Which God created. It is proper to observe the reason, that, in the use of various kinds of food, we ought to be satisfied with the liberty which God has granted to us; because He created them for this purpose. It yields inconceivable joy to all the godly, when they know that all the kinds of food which they eat are put into their hands by the Lord, so that the use of them is pure and lawful. What insolence is it in men to take away what God bestows! Did they create food? Can they make void the creation of God? Let it always be remembered by us, that he who created the food, gave us also the free use of it, which it is vain for men to attempt to hinder.
To be received with Thanksgiving. God created food to be received; that is, that we may enjoy it. This end can ever be set aside by human authority. He adds, with thanksgiving; because we can never render to God any recompense for his kindness but a testimony of gratitude. And thus he holds up to greater abhorrence those wicked lawgivers who, by new and hasty enactments, hinder the sacrifice of praise which God especially requires us to offer to him. Now, there can be no thanksgiving without sobriety and temperance; for the kindness of God is not truly acknowledged by him who wickedly abuses it.
By believers. What then? Does not God make his sun to rise daily on the good and the bad? (<400545>Matthew 5:45.) Does not the earth, by his command, yield bread to the wicked? Are not the very worst of men fed by his blessing? When David says,
“He causeth the herb to grow for the service of men, that he may bring forth food out of the earth,” (<19A414>Psalm 104:14)
the kindness which he describes is universal. I reply, Paul speaks here of the lawful use, of which we are assured before God. Wicked men are in no degree partakers of it, on account of their impure conscience, which, as is said,
“defileth all things.” (<560115>Titus 1:15,)
And indeed, properly speaking, God has appointed to his children alone the whole world and all that is in the world. For this reason, they are also called the heirs of the world; for at the beginning Adam was appointed to be lord of all, on this condition, that he should continue in obedience to God. Accordingly, his rebellion against God deprived of the right, which had been bestowed on him, not only himself but his posterity,. And since all things are subject to Christ, we are fully restored by His mediation, and that through faith; and therefore all that unbelievers enjoy may be regarded as the property of others, which they rob or steal.
And by those that know the truth. In this clause he defines who they are whom he calls “believers,” namely, those that have a knowledge ofsound doctrine; for there is no faith but from the word of God; in order that we may not falsely think, as the Papists imagine, that faith is a confused opinion.
4. For every creature of God is good. The use of food must be judged, partly from its substance, and partly from the person of him who eats it. The Apostle therefore avails himself of both arguments. So far as relates to food, he asserts that it is pure, because God has created it; and that the use of it is consecrated to us by faith and prayer. The goodness of the creatures, which he mentions, has relation to men, and that not with regard to the body or to health, but to the consciences. I make this remark, that none may enter into curious speculations unconnected with the scope of the passage; for, in a single word, Paul means, that those things which come from the hand of God, and are intended for our use, are not unclean or polluted before God, but that we may freely eat them with regard to conscience.
If it be objected, that many animals were formerly pronounced to be unclean under the Law, and that fruit, which: was yielded by the tree of knowledge of good and evil, was destructive to man; the answer is, that creatures are not called pure, merely because they are the works of God, but because, through his kindness, they have been given to us; for we must always look at the appointment of God, both what he commands and what he forbids.
5. For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. This is the confirmation of the preceding clause, if it be received with Thanksgiving. And it is an argument drawn from contrast; for “holy” and “profane” are things contrary to each other. Let us now see what is time sanctification of all good things, which belong to the sustenance of the present life. Paul testifies that it consists of “the word of God and prayer.” But it ought to be observed, that this word must be embraced by faith, in order that it may be advantageous; for, although God himself sanctifies all things by the Spirit of his mouth, yet we do not obtain that benefit but by faith. To this is added “prayer;” for, on the one hand, we ask from God our daily bread, according to the commandment of Christ, (<400611>Matthew 6:11;) and, on the other hand we offer thanksgiving to Him for His goodness.
Now Paul’s doctrine proceeds on this principle, that there is no good thing, the possession of which is lawful, unless conscience testify that it is lawfully our own. And which of us would venture to claim for himself a single grain of wheat, if he were not taught by the word of God that he is the heir of the world? Common sense, indeed, pronounces, that the wealth of the world is naturally intended for our use; but, since dominion over the world was taken from us in Adam, everything that we touch of the gifts of God is defiled by our pollution; and, on the other hand, it is unclean to us, till God graciously come to our aid, and’ by ingrafting us into his Son, constitutes us anew to be lords of the world, that we may lawfully use as our own all the wealth with which he supplies us.
Justly, therefore, does Paul connect lawful enjoyment with “the word”, by which alone we regain what was lost in Adam; for we must acknowledge God as our Father, that we may be his heirs, and Christ as our Head, that those things which are his may become ours. Hence it ought to be inferred that the use of all the gifts of God is unclean, unless it be accompanied by true knowledge and calling on the name of God; and that it is a beastly way of eating, when we sit down at table without any prayer; and, when we have eaten to the full, depart in utter forgetfulness of God.
And if such sanctification is demanded in regard to common food, which, together with the belly, is subject to corruption, what must we think about spiritual sacraments? If “the word,” and calling on God through faith, be not there, what remains that is not profane? Here we must attend to the distinction between the blessing of the sacramental table and the blessing of a common table; for, as to the food which we eat for the nourishment of our body, we bless it for this purpose, that we may receive it in a pure and lawful manner; but we consecrate, in a more solemn manner, the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper, that they may be pledges to us of the body and blood of Christ.