I don’t know about you, but I sure do like a thick, juicy steak every once in awhile. But with the current price of beef being sky high, it’s a rare treat. Drinking milk is another thing altogether. I consider milk a breakfast drink, something I rarely drink for lunch or dinner. I like milk with my cereal. Paul, the Apostle, mentioned “meat” and “milk” in two separate books of the Bible, 1st Corinthians and Hebrews. Paul contrasts “milk” and “meat” to make an important spiritual analogy. Paul, in his address to the Corinthian church, wrote:
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (KJV) – “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”
The word “milk” in the above quote (Greek gala) means the basic, elemental teachings of Christianity first learned by new believers according to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testaments. The word “meat” in 1Corinthians is from the Greek word “Broma”. Its’ Strong’s number is G1033. It means the deeper, more complete teachings of God’s Word.
Paul addressed several church-related problems in his first letter to the Corinthians. There was one problem that he knew was carnal. This problem was evidence of their spiritual immaturity. Some in Corinth had aligned themselves to certain teachers (Paul, Apollos, Peter). They were causing contentions and divisions in the church by arguing about which preacher was the most spiritual (verses 3 – 23)! Paul thought that teaching the church the deeper truths of God would be a waste of time. After all how could they understand the deeper principles of the scriptures if they continued to entangle themselves in petty debates over who was ‘the greatest!’
Paul contrasts the idea of spiritual “milk” and “meat” in his letter to the Hebrews.
Hebrews 5:12 (KJV) – “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”
Paul does state, a few verses later, some of the teachings he considers are the “first principles of the oracles of God.”
• Faith in God
• Baptism and its meaning
• The laying on of hands
• The resurrection of the dead
• Eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:1-2)
Hebrews 6:1-2 (KJV) – “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
In conclusion, if we use the Bible to interpret itself, the words “meat” and “strong meat” refer to deeper, more complex Christian teachings. However the word “milk” refers to the basics of Christian teaching. Interestingly, Peter uses part of this same metaphor when he writes to encourage scattered new believers.
1 Peter 2:2 (KJV) – “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”
I don’t know about you, but I want all of the Word of God, both the milk and the meat. I want to rightly divide the Word of truth. I want the scriptures to reveal themselves to me. Prayer and systematic study are the keys to feasting on the “meat” of God’s Word.
For more information on how to study the Bible refer to Rules for Understanding the Bible!