Tuesday, 22 April 2014
I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 1 Corinthians 3:2
In the preceding verse, Paul said to the Corinthians that he had to speak to them “as babes in Christ.” This makes his comment in verse 2 understandable – “I fed you with milk and not solid food” is a metaphor for his speech to them. Because they were uneducated in the things of Christ, he spoke to them about the elementary tenets of the faith.
Babies don’t come out of the womb and start chewing on steak. Instead, they require milk in order to develop. Eventually, through growth, they can start nibbling on pieces of bread or a bit of rice. As teeth develop, they can start to chew on tougher foods, like meat. This is also how we should develop spiritually, a little bit at a time. Unfortunately, those in Corinth stayed in a state of infancy and failed to move to adolescence and beyond. Paul tells them that they “were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able.”
Again, the writer of Hebrews provides a parallel thought to this in Hebrews 6:1-3 –
“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.”
Here, the author of Hebrews cites all of these as “elementary principles.” They are things that even the novice in Christianity should be able to explain competently. Paul, writing to the Corinthians found that they were unable to handle even these basic principles and so he was obliged to continue to feed them milk, not meat. In chapter 14, he will relay to them their state of infancy when explaining to them about speaking in tongues. They were using tongues in church the way many churches still do today. There he says to them –
“Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.” 1 Corinthians 14:20
In the coming verse, Paul will give a list of other areas where the Corinthians were weak. By reviewing those things, we will see a congregation that still had one foot in the outside world. They were carnal and lacking Christian maturity. Two thousand years later, the faith is still full of such people – not because there are so many new believers, but because so many don’t take time to faithfully read and study their Bibles. When they do, they continue to forget the context of the passage and only disorder results in their biblical understanding. Through Paul’s hand, God is showing us how to keep this from occurring.
Life application: Go back up and read the list of “elementary principles” noted above by the author of Hebrews. Ask yourself if you can rightly explain each of them and why you believe them. If not, take extra time to learn them in a way that solidifies your understanding of them.
Heavenly Father, help me to grow in Your word to the point where I can defend the principle doctrines of the faith. The Bible is Your word and what it teaches has been given to me so that I can grow in spiritual maturity. And so help me to properly handle it, be able to explain it, and defend its truths when it is attacked. I know that with this, You will be pleased. Amen.