We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Well now, isn’t this an interesting thing to say? Let’s bear in mind that our author has been talking about Jesus as our great high priest, according to the order of Melchizedek, but he hasn’t discussed Melchizedek yet, he’s only made a reference to him. He has teased us with a contrast between the Old and New Covenant priesthood, and by extension the very nature of the two covenants, and then he diverts his discussion here and gets into the issue of maturity. I really hope that we can avoid the temptation to think that his readers must be very much the immature ones; that we are somehow in a better position spiritually than they were. If the truth were really to be told, we are not much different today; in fact, we might just be worse off than they were.
I hope, dear reader that anyone who has the courage to keep reading, will take this as an opportunity for some serious reflection and self-examination, as I am doing as I write this; it is a serious matter.
The author is speaking about the process of spiritual maturity as a life-long journey, a journey of growth and attainment of maturity. Think of it this way, how long have we gone on with the attitude that when we reach out to those people who are living without a relationship with Christ, and when they agree to receive His grace and become a “new” Christian, our job is done? The reality of the situation is that our job has only just begun! How many of us have been Christians for a lifetime, but are still “infants” spiritually… yet think we are mature because we can recite scripture and answer trivia questions? How many of us are still growing in our relationships with Christ, versus thinking we need not grow further? Consider our text: “by this time you ought to be teachers” but “you need someone to teach you…” I can attest to the fact, that this is a typical condition in the church today. Notice that there is linkage between “elementary truths of God’s word” and a baby’s milk. Here the author is using infancy and adulthood as a metaphor for spiritual growth, particularly in relation to the respective diets of the two; “milk” as opposed to “solid food.”
Honestly, as I read these verses, I’m reminded of something a blogging friend said to me several years ago: “The problem with ‘Sunday School’ is that there is no expectation that anyone will actually ever graduate.” How many of us have studied the Bible for decades, but would never even consider teaching or leading a study? The ancient Hebrew mindset went something like this: To hear something is to believe it, to believe something is to know it, and to know something is to do it.
Something to think about for all of us, I’m sure.