top of page

Can Christians Eat Blood?

The question about eating blood arises from the command that the apostles delivered to the Gentiles at the famous Jerusalem conference recorded in Acts 15:1-31.

Before Acts 15, we read that through the evangelistic efforts of Paul and Barnabas, many Gentiles were converted to the faith. However, a disagreement arose between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians as to whether Gentile males should be circumcised. The Jewish Christians were insisting that the Gentile Christians must be circumcised to be saved (Acts 15:1).

Though Paul and Barnabas tried, they could not convince the Jewish Christians on this issue of circumcision. Thus, the matter was brought up to the apostles in Jerusalem. After much debate and discussion by the apostles and elders, James delivered the verdict: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood” (Acts 15:19, 20).

The verdict was that Gentile believers need not be circumcised, but they ought to abstain from these four things:

1. Eating things offered to idols

2. Sexual immorality

3. Eating anything strangled

4. Eating blood

The question is whether these decrees apply to Christians today.

Let us look at the 4 abstinences one by one:

1. Eating things offered to idols.

In 1 Corinthians 8, Paul says eating food that had previously been offered to idols is not wrong for those who have knowledge, and who understand idols are nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). However, if anyone had a weak conscience, still thinks of it as having been offered to a god, that person should refrain from eating: “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled” (1 Corinthians 8:7).

Furthermore, there are times when eating food offered to idols is inherently sinful. On one hand, if such food is being sold at the market, Paul instructs to eat, asking no questions (1 Corinthians 10:25). However, if the food is being served at an idolatrous feast, they must avoid it! When Christians partake food offered to idols during an idolatrous feast, they would inadvertently be having fellowship with idolators (1 Corinthians 10:20-22). Such fellowship will surely provoke the jealous wrath of God!

Circling back to Acts 15:19-20, we read that the Gentile Christians were commanded to abstain from foods offered to idols. Since this was a command, it is likely that “eating food offered to idols” here refers to eating at the idolatrous feasts. The Gentile Christians may be tempted to return to the idolatrous feasts for free food, but as Christians, they ought to stay away from having fellowship with idolators.

2. Sexual immorality.

The prohibition against sexual immorality or fornication is a universal moral law that does not change with time. God is holy, and He demands holiness throughout all ages: “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy”  (1 Peter 1:15, 16).

3. Eating anything strangled.

Animals killed by strangulation have their blood remaining in the body. This prohibition is closely tied up with the next prohibition of “eating blood.” Strangled meat has not been drained of its blood, and God forbids the eating of blood. When anyone slaughters an animal, they are to drain the blood. In Leviticus 17:13, the children of Israel were commanded to pour out the blood of any beasts or birds they have slaughtered. Thus, they could not catch a bird, pluck out its feathers, roast it over a fire, and eat it; they had to first drain off the blood before they pulled out its feathers.

This prohibition dates back to Noah’s time when God first allowed meat eating: “But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat” (Genesis 9:4). “Flesh with the life thereof” means flesh that has life or blood remaining in it. This is one reason why an animal which died of itself is not to be eaten. Deuteronomy 14:21 states: “Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself.”

4. Eating blood.

The command to abstain from eating blood originated in Genesis 9:4–6. For the first time, animals were an allowable food source, and God ensured that Noah did not eat them with the blood, highlighting that life is in the blood. This same prohibition was later codified into the Mosaic Law in Leviticus 17:10–14, where God explicitly prohibited the eating of blood. The reason for this command is given in Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

So, we see that the prohibition of eating blood dates to the Patriarchal Age, reinforced in the Mosaic Age, and repeated in the Christian Age. Life is still in the blood and it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Whenever we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of the blood of Jesus which made atonement for our sins: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

Hence, we see that the prohibition of eating blood is applicable in every era of man’s existence: from the beginning, God has commanded men not to eat blood. It was not allowed under the Patriarchal age, under the Law of Moses, and under the New Covenant of Christ, as recorded in Acts 15:28, 29. Let us note that when the Gentile Christians were commanded to abstain from blood, this was not a command from the apostles themselves alone, but it was from the Holy Spirit Himself (Acts 15:28-29).

Another question arises: Can Christians Eat Medium-Rare Steak?

Many have wondered if the command to abstain from eating blood includes the reddish juices in a “rare” steak, or a similar piece of meat. The short answer is that it does not.

The truth is, the red liquid oozing out from the medium-rare steak is not blood.

The liquid is a combination of water and a protein called myoglobin. Myoglobin is a protein found in red meat that transports oxygen in the cells. As a piece of meat ages, the muscle tissue breaks down, causing the liquid and myoglobin to leak out. The liquid is called purge, and it can be a sign that a cut isn't fresh, but it doesn't always mean the cut is bad.

Myoglobin is also the cause of steak having different colours at different levels of doneness. At a rare or medium rare temperature, myoglobin is bright red. As the temperature of the meat increases, the myoglobin darkens.” (source:

Now you know. What you are seeing is myoglobin, the protein that delivers oxygen to an animal’s muscles. Myoglobin looks like blood when you cut into the meat because the iron in myoglobin turns red when exposed to oxygen. Furthermore, heating the protein will turn it into a darker colour. As a steak is cooked, the myoglobin darkens, so the more “well-done” the meat is, the greyer it looks.

Most mammals have myoglobin in their tissue, which is why meat that comes from mammals – including beef, lamb, and pork – is known as 'red meat'. This contrasts with “white meat,” which comes from animals with low levels of myoglobin (poultry) or no myoglobin at all (some seafood).

We see that the red liquid in meat that has been properly slaughtered, and its blood drained out, is not blood but myoglobin. If myoglobin is forbidden, then we cannot eat red meat at all, whether rare or done, because the fluid is still in the meat. However, in the Old Testament, the Levitical priests were allowed by God to eat the “red meat” sacrifices (Leviticus 6:16–18 also 7:15, 16, 31–34; Numbers 18:8–10).

In short, ordering your steak rare or well done is a matter of conscience and taste. If your conscience is weak, do not eat: “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).


bottom of page