Discourse on Defilement

Jesus disputes with the Pharisees over cleanliness, from the Bowyer Bible, 19th century.

The Discourse on Defilement is an episode in the life of Jesus in the New Testament.[1][2] It appears in the Gospel of Matthew 15:1–20 and the Gospel of Mark 7:1–23.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the Pharisees complain to Jesus that his disciples break the tradition of the elders because they do not wash their hands before eating. And Jesus responds:

"Listen and understand. What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean,' but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'".[3]

The Gospel of Mark has a similar episode in which Jesus explains how a man is defiled by evil that comes out of him:

"What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.' For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man 'unclean.'"[4]

See also


  1. Jesus the miracle worker: a historical & theological study by Graham H. Twelftree 1999 ISBN 0-8308-1596-1 page 79
  2. The order of the synoptics by Bernard Orchard, Harold Riley 1985 ISBN 0-86554-222-8 page 85
  3. Bible gateway
  4. Bible gateway
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