“(Jesus) was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Concerning him (and His priesthood) we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing (due to moral laxness – Gr. “northros“).  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to (Gr. “apeiros” –inexperienced inthe word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food (meat) is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained (Gr. “gymnazō” – “gymnasium” -work out salvation) to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,  of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” “Spiritual growth should hurt like heaven which sometimes seems worse than hell because heaven wants us to change (for God’s glory and our good) and hell hopes we never do.” (Pastor Joe Novenson)

“Northros”- dull of hearing due to moral laxness – “The startling truth is that, if you stumble over Melchizedek, it may be because you watch questionable TV programs or you still use some shady business practices or because you love money and spend too much and give too little. The pathway to maturity and to solid Biblical food is not first becoming an intelligent person, but becoming an obedient person. What you do with alcohol and sex and money and leisure and food and computers have more to do with your capacity for solid food than with where you go to school or what books you read.” (John Piper)

There have never been so many false christs and false gospels as there are today as Jesus predicted would be the case in the end times (Matt. 24:5, 24-25) and many people are being led away because they do not know the meat of God’s word. (E.g., Oprah’s New Age teachings (see http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=73537).

Scripture reveals a number of reasons that can motivate us to grow and Paul speaks of two of these in 2 Corinthians 5:9-14: The fear of the Lord and the love of Christ: 1) The fear of the Lord:  Therefore, whether we are at home [on earth away from Him] or away from home [and with Him], we are constantly ambitious and strive earnestly to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].” If we don’t respond to God’s truth He may have to take us to the spiritual woodshed (Heb. 12:5-11) and if we still don’t change we “suffer loss” of rewards at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-15). When we disobey Him we call into question His absolute authority over us as if we can sin without consequences. We must remember that the pain of disobedience is always greater than the pain of obedience in the long run. 2) The love of Christ:  “For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us.” Paul says, as we grasp how much Jesus loves us we will want to spend ourselves loving Him by loving and serving people. Obedience to God brings an increasing revelation of His love and Majesty.

As these verses show, Spiritual knowledge only comes through obedience to God’s Word not just reading it or hearing it. So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And (then) you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”  (John 8:31-32) “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.] Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.” (John 14:21; 23; also see James 1:21-25; Colossians 1:9-10)

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers”  – The author of Hebrews knew these people had been Christians for some time and should be reproducing by sharing what they had learned. This does not necessarily mean teaching in a formal sense but simply sharing what you are learning with family and friends. If you don’t use it you lose it.

“For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food (meat) is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained (Gr. “gymnazō” – “gymnasium” -work out salvation) to discern good and evil.” – Milk is needed and probably refers to the “elementary principles of the oracles of God” as seen in 6:1-2{Dead works here may also refer to works which formerly were right, but which now are dead since Christ has come. For example, all the services connected with temple worship are outmoded by the finished work of Christ. Second, the writer mentions faith toward God. This again is an OT emphasis. In the NT, Christ is almost invariably presented as the object of faith. Not that this displaces faith in God; but a faith in God which leaves out Christ is now inadequate. 6:2 Instruction about baptisms refers not to Christian baptism,  but to the ceremonial washings which figured so prominently in the religious lives of the priests and people of Israel (see also 9:10). The ritual of laying on of hands is described in Leviticus 1:4; 3:2; 16:21. The offerer or the priest laid his hands on the head of an animal as an act of identification. In figure, the animal bore away the sins of the people who were associated with it. This ceremony typified vicarious atonement. We do not believe that there is any reference here to the laying on of hands as practiced by the apostles and others in the early church (Acts 8:17; 13:3; 19:6). Resurrection of the dead is taught in Job 19:25-27, Psalm 17:15, and it is implied in Isaiah 53:10-12. What was seen only indistinctly in the OT is brightly revealed in the New (2 Tim. 1:10). The final foundational truth of the OT was eternal judgment (Ps. 9:17; Isa. 66:24). These first principles represented Judaism, and were preparatory to the coming of Christ. Christians should not continue to be content with these but should press on to the fuller revelation they now have in Christ.” MacDonald, William ; Farstad, Arthur: Believer’s Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995, S. Heb 5:10}

Here is another perspective on milk vs. solid food: {“The author illustrates the ingredients of growth. Milk equals input. Solid food equals output. We start with the input of truth (1 Pet. 2:2), exercising the principle of readiness for learning. We gradually implement the principle of practice for retention of truth. Consistent and persistent practice of truth results in growth to maturity (this same formula is applied to the Corinthians by Paul in 1 Cor. 3:1-4). 5:13 unskilled in the word of righteousness: The readers of this letter did not necessarily lack information concerning righteousness; they lacked experience in practicing the information they had. Maturity comes from practice. As we practice righteousness, we will have less difficulty in determining good from evil. (The author of Hebrews is saying what our human coaches say, “Don’t miss practice!) Babe (or infant) is a description of the spiritually immature. Babies have little discernment or self-discipline. They must be constantly told “no.” Mature believers are able to know right from wrong and to control their sinful appetites.” Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, }

“Mature believers understand the heavenly priesthood of Jesus Christ and know how to come to the throne of grace for help. They are skillful in using God’s truth both in their personal lives, and they can also teach others.” Wiersbe, Warren W.: With the Word Bible Commentary. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1991, S. Heb 5:1

“Let us press on (Gr. pherōmetha) to maturity…And God permitting, we will do so” (6: 3). – The verb is unusual in that it is not active as the translation would imply; rather, it is passive. It does not involve going as much as “being carried” or “being moved.” Westcott (p. 143) suggests the translation, “Let us be moved along.” Maturity will not be attained by personal effort as much as by personal surrender to God, who alone can accomplish the needed perfection.


1) Discuss the spiritual dangers we face in today’s world that could lead you off the course of spiritual maturity. Now discuss the advantages/resources available to you that help keep you on the course to maturity. Are there resources available that you could add to your “spiritual work out” and which ones do you need to add?   “Physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8)


2) Which of Paul’s motivations listed in 2 Corinthians 5:9-14 above motivates you the most and why? How can you grow in the other one?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             3) 3) Why is the word “infant” a good description of immature believers and how can it help us see where we need to grow?


Resource: Foundations is a 6 lesson Bible study that will ground you in the foundations of the faith and give you a tool for discipling others. If you would like to do this make a check out to Reflections Ministries for $10.80 and give it to me. Do a lesson a week and copy your answers and give them to me on each Friday morning and I will check them for correctness.

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