Though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food … (Hebrews 5:12)
As we resume our exposition of the epistle to the Hebrews, we find ourselves in the central portion of the letter which spans chapters 5 through 10. In chapter 5 verse 11, the author temporarily turns aside from what he was intending to say about the high priesthood of Jesus Christ, using the idiom, “We have much to say about this.” After a brief excursion in chapter 6, he will return to this theme in chapters 7-10. It is as if the author, as he considers the grand and glorious topic of Jesus’s high priesthood, suddenly realizes that his audience is not quite ready to receive his teaching. He rebukes them for their resistance, dullness, and reluctance to listen. Although they were Christians for a long enough time to be teachers, the author’s assessment of their maturity level was that they were more like spiritual babies who were unwilling to work out the deeper implications of the Gospel in their lives. They failed to apply their understanding of the Gospel to righteous living. We see the same thing today as some Christians who seem to embrace the Gospel for salvation, turn to false and fruitless ideas about their sanctification – from antinomianism to legalism to second blessings to the social gospel. Perhaps the original recipients of this letter were in danger of falling away because they resisted the suffering associated with mortifying their sin that the Gospel calls us to. Instead, they ought to have been exercising their discernment that would lead them on the godly, mature, wise, and righteous path.
Though the author rebukes them in verse 12: “You need milk, not solid food,” he does not proceed to nurse them on the proverbial pablum from the infant’s bottle. Rather, the author instead exhorts them in chapter 6 verses 1-3, to move past their immaturity by pursuing the advanced teaching that they needed in order to be challenged to greater commitment. Before issuing a stern warning in verses 4-6, the author encourages his readers (as he will do again in verses 9-12 of the chapter) by using the plural second pronoun “us” and “we” in verses 1 and 3. It is his confident expectation that those who received this letter and heard its words, would indeed attain the goal of spiritual maturity.