Stop Eating Animals That Have Been Strangled to Death?

Acts 15:20 meaning

Last updated on November 29th, 2019


What is the meaning of Acts 15:20? It states, “20 but that we write to them that they abstain from [a]things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood.”

So a really good friend of mine brought this to my attention yesterday. She asked if Acts 15:20 meant Christians should not eat meat that’s strangled to death. This instruction is also found again in Acts 21:25. And Paul mentions that this was a decision that they came to for the Gentiles.

Acts 15:20 Commentary

To be clear, not the chicken itself being avoided, but if the manufacturer who supplied that chicken strangled it. At first glance it appears as if that is the case. I looked at different commentaries and I couldn’t quite find one that directly addressed this. Then I stumbled upon a website that went into how meat strangled increases stress in the animal before death. It apparently releases hormones that can cause disease in the meat. Perhaps this may be the reason why it was instructed to eat meat not strangled. They provided references to their article. But of course one should make sure they research before making any dietary changes.


For once I don’t really have my own firm conclusion yet. It’s simply a new thought that’s come to my attention. I ponder whether that means I should start eating kosher meat. If that’s what God wants of me and if that’s what’s better for my health. But I just felt like sharing what the verse states as something to think about. And I welcome anybody who wants to provide any added information for all of us. So we can get the true meaning of Acts 15:20. Look forward to hearing all of your thoughts.

Peace to you all in Christ.


19 thoughts on “Stop Eating Animals That Have Been Strangled to Death?

  1. No animal wants to die however he/she is killed. There is always going to be pain and trauma. I would love to see Christians making an effort to enjoy a cruelty free diet and lifestyle instead of enabling the wicked meat and dairy industry.

    1. Hi Lana. Thanks for your comment. I’ve pondered vegetarianism and veganism in the past for health reasons at times. Do you believe God called people to live a meat free life?

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      1. The subject is biblically unclear and we are in very different times now in any event with far more greed driving factory farming. However in Genesis we *are* told that God gives us every fruit bearing plant to live off. All I know is it obviously wrong to consume beautiful creatures due to the horrific cruelty involved which we should not turn a blind eye to just because we like how something tastes or it’s traditional or easy to acquire etc. Additionally God gave me a vision that when we all stop eating meat, wars will cease. I invite any Christian meat eaters to pray on this matter and listen to what is responded in the heart.

        1. I hope we all stop eating meat if your vision is the case. But I’m glad you have a view on this that you feel very confident about. It’s a nice feeling to be strong in what you believe to be true. And indeed, prayer is the key in all matters like these.

          Peace in Christ. 🙂

          1. Well the truth is – killing animals is a vile process and I don’t want any part of it. May we all look first to our hearts instead of our appetites. God bless 🙂

      2. I had two other personal messages from God encouraging me on the vegan path also. I read the bible but I prefer to ask God directly for answers to questions I ponder in general.

  2. Good mornin.
    That’s interesting brother.
    The only point I would make is the non existence of kosher food,
    Via Acts 10…

    And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,

    11. And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:

    12. Wherein were all manner of four footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.

    13. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.

    14. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

    15. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

    All glory to the risen Lord Jesus Christ

    1. Hi Lee. Thanks for your comment. This is an interesting passage. What part of the passage gives you the conclusion that Kosher food did not exist and why?

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

      1. Good mornin. 😃
        I don’t know who to call you, what’s your name brother?

        Verse 15.
        That’s what I take from all of this. Peter’s basically saying, I don’t eat non kosher/unclean food.
        But he’s corrected is he not?

        1. Some people refer to me as “Fact” since I keep myself anonymous currently. 😉

          To your question, from what I think I’m reading, he’s corrected that what he’s being told to kill and eat is not unclean because God had already cleansed the animals. It would seem as if that was the reason the animals that came down from the sky on a great sheet were referred to as clean. But in the passage Peter states he’s never eaten anything unclean, which seems to suggest he has eaten clean food before, which with whether clean food existed or not would seem to only be based on whether someone exercised the instructed proper actions for killing an animal in order for it to be clean.

          I’m just kind of marinating this out loud. But if you have a thought that can clarify what I’m contemplating, please share.

          Peace in Christ. 🙂

          1. Well I’m rather simple, and in plain words what I take from this is…

            Some foods were unclean and some were clean in the administration of the old covenant.

            Now… all foods are clean…eat whatever ya want.

            Maybe I’m right, or maybe I’m wrong in my understanding of all of this.
            But that’s what I take from this.

          2. Ah, okay. I understand what you’re concluding now. Thanks for sharing your insight. It’s given me another perspective to consider. 😉

    1. Hi royalpalmtree. Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I didn’t know neither. Amazing what science has been proven in scripture before man ever recorded these discoveries.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  3. The way I’ve heard this interpreted is that “the meat of strangled animals” is reinforcing the command to avoid eating blood, something that contemporary Jewish culture really couldn’t handle. The way I hear it (and I don’t actually know one way or the other), it’s very difficult to properly drain all the blood out of a strangled animal.
    The interpretation I’ve heard is that the paired injunctions were about church unity as much as anything else, humanly speaking perhaps a sop to the Judaising party (as in “we know plenty of Jewish believers are going to have a hard enough time recognising the faith of Gentiles to not keep all the ritual laws, so if you avoid strangled animals and blood you won’t put any unnecessary stumbling-blocks in their path”).
    It’s a strange and interesting injunction, as much because it’s obscure and never referred to or commented on again as anything else. Permanent command for all time? If so, what’s significant about strangled animals, do we all need to keep kashrut in the matter of how we kill food animals, and how does this harmonise with the command to “eat what is set before you without raising issues of conscience”? Temporary instruction for unity in the new Jewish-and-Gentile church? Possibly, but we accept that the command to avoid fornication is for all time as a matter of common-sense morality, so why lump that in with idol meat, strangled meat and blood if those aren’t also to be taken the same way?
    Paul does present a more nuanced view of the matter of idol meat in Romans 14, but the matters of “strangled animals and blood”, whether as a single issue or two issues, is never referred to again, so we have trouble being sure our interpretation is the correct one.

    1. Hi geoffhorswood. Thanks for all the interesting information you just shared. Both sides of the argument laid out seem pretty solid. It is important to consider how it was mentioned next to a command we all clearly conclude is something people must adhere to in avoiding sexual immorality, but also equally important to consider at the same time the lack of mentioning of this issue elsewhere if it’s that important. Almost makes it seem like the issue is one’s own judgment, much like Paul talks of people choosing what days are important or whether to abstain from eating meat entirely or not. Though one would wonder why mention the command in the first place if it’s meant to be a judgment call. All interesting things everyone has to ponder and conclude for themselves. Thanks again for sharing your insight.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

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