Hebrews 5:12
For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you 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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) For the time.—Taking into account the time that had elapsed since they became Christians.

Ye have need.—Literally, ye have need that some one teach you again the rudiments of the beginning of the oracles of God (Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2; 1Peter 4:11). These first rudiments, which they need to learn again (but which he himself is not about to teach), it may seem natural to identify with what the writer in Hebrews 6:1 calls “the doctrine of the first principles of Christ.” If, however, we examine the usage of the New Testament, of Philo, and of other writers, we shall find good reason for regarding “the oracles of God” as synonymous with the Scriptures of the Old Testament. (See Hebrews 5:13.)

Of strong meat.—Better, of solid food. (See 1Corinthians 3:2.)

5:11-14 Dull hearers make the preaching of the gospel difficult, and even those who have some faith may be dull hearers, and slow to believe. Much is looked for from those to whom much is given. To be unskilful, denotes want of experience in the things of the gospel. Christian experience is a spiritual sense, taste, or relish of the goodness, sweetness, and excellence of the truths of the gospel. And no tongue can express the satisfaction which the soul receives, from a sense of Divine goodness, grace, and love to it in Christ.For when for the time - Considering the time which has elapsed since you were converted. You have been Christians long enough to he expected to understand such doctrines. This verse proves that those to whom he wrote were not recent converts.

Ye ought to be teachers - You ought to be able to instruct others. He does not mean to say, evidently, that they ought all to become public teachers, or preachers of the gospel, but that they ought to be able to explain to others the truths of the Christian religion. As parents they ought to be able to explain them to their children; as neighbors, to their neighbors; or as friends, to those who were inquiring the way to life.

Ye have need - That is, probably, the mass of them had need. As a people, or a church, they had shown that they were ignorant of some of the very elements of the gospel.

Again - This shows that they "had been" taught on some former occasion what were the first principles of religion, but they had not followed, up the teaching as they ought to have done.

The first principles - The very elements; the rudiments; the first lessons - such as children learn before they advance to higher studies. See the word used here explained in the notes on Galatians 4:3, under the word "elements." The Greek word is the same.

Of the oracles of God - Of the Scriptures, or what God has spoken; see the notes on Romans 3:2. The phrase here may refer to the writings of the Old Testament, and particularly to those parts which relate to the Messiah; or it may include all that God had at that time revealed in whatever way it was preserved; in 1 Peter 4:11, it is used with reference to the Christian religion, and to the doctrines which God had revealed in the gospel. In the passage before us, it may mean" the divine oracles or communications," in whatever way they had been made known. They had shown that they were ignorant of the very rudiments of the divine teaching.

And are become such - There is more meant in this phrase than that they simply "were" such persons. The word rendered "are become" - γίνομαι ginomai - sometimes implies "a change of state," or a passing from one state to another - well expressed by the phrase "are become;" see Matthew 5:45; Matthew 4:3; Matthew 13:32; Matthew 6:16; Matthew 10:25; Mark 1:17; Romans 7:3-4. The idea here is, that they had passed from the hopeful condition in which they were when they showed that they had an acquaintance with the great principles of the gospel, and that they had become such as to need again the most simple form of instruction. This agrees well with the general strain of the Epistle, which is to preserve them from the danger of apostasy. They were verging toward it, and had come to that state where if they were recovered it must be by being again taught the elements of religion.

Have need of milk - Like little children. You can bear only the most simple nourishment. The meaning is, that they were incapable of receiving the higher doctrines of the gospel as much as little children are incapable of digesting solid food. They were in fact in a state of spiritual infancy.

And not of strong meat - Greek. "Strong food." The word "meat" with us is used now to denote only animal food. Formerly it meant food in general. The Greek word here means "nourishment."

12. for the time—considering the long time that you have been Christians. Therefore this Epistle was not one of those written early.

which be the first principles—Greek, "the rudiments of the beginning of." A Pauline phrase (see on [2552]Ga 4:3; [2553]Ga 4:9). Ye need not only to be taught the first elements, but also "which they be." They are therefore enumerated Heb 6:1, 2 [Bengel]. Alford translates, "That someone teach you the rudiments"; but the position of the Greek, "tina," inclines me to take it interrogatively, "which," as English Version, Syriac, Vulgate, &c.

of the oracles of God—namely, of the Old Testament: instead of seeing Christ as the end of the Old Testament Scripture, they were relapsing towards Judaism, so as not only not to be capable of understanding the typical reference to Christ of such an Old Testament personage as Melchisedec, but even much more elementary references.

are become—through indolence.

milk … not … strong meat—"Milk" refers to such fundamental first principles as he enumerates in Heb 6:1, 2. The solid meat, or food, is not absolutely necessary for preserving life, but is so for acquiring greater strength. Especially in the case of the Hebrews, who were much given to allegorical interpretations of their law, which they so much venerated, the application of the Old Testament types, to Christ and His High Priesthood, was calculated much to strengthen them in the Christian faith [Limborch].

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers: the conviction of this fault in their understanding and will, is by the Spirit demonstrated; for their dulness proceeded from their neglect of God’s means of knowledge, and so was inexcusable; they had time and means enough of improving in the knowledge of this gospel doctrine of Christ’s priesthood, and to have gained in them the abilities of teachers of their families, fellow Christians, and neighbours, both from the law of Moses, and the other Scriptures, and by the teaching of Christ and his apostles.

Ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles; yet such was their negligence and idleness, that their knowledge was diminished and lost, and they fallen off to the old Mosaical economy of priesthood, ceremonies and services, so as they had need again to be taught and instructed by others which are the stoiceia of God’s oracles in the Scriptures, such things as are the first in order, and first to be taught and learnt, the very fundamental principles of Christianity, without the knowledge of which none can be saved, and on which all others do depend. They are so styled by a metaphor, signifying such a state of this in the Scripture, as the elements have in natural bodies which they compound; or, like elements of speech, which must be first attained before there can be either an understanding, speaking, or writing of a language; they are the foundation upon which a system of the Christian religion is raised; see Hebrews 6:1: which principles lie dispersed in the New Testatment, and are summed up in those ancient creeds which are agreeable to our Saviour’s words.

Of the oracles of God: logiwn tou yeou, such oracles or revelations of God’s mind about the way of our salvation, which he hath made to us by his Son our High Priest, and which he brought from heaven with him, and taught himself, as Hebrews 1:1,2; and hath by the inspiration of his Spirit of persons chosen on purpose by him, penned them eminently in the Scriptures of the New Testament, not excluding those of the Old Testament, which are unveiled, opened, and made glorious in them, Romans 3:2.

And are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat: these Hebrews had so greatly forgotten these first principles, that they were become mere babes and infants in knowledge, they needed the first and weakest spiritual food, metaphorically styled milk; the most plain and easy truths of the gospel, such as they may understand, and give light to others; not the beggarly elements of Judaism, as they are styled, Galatians 4:3,9, and Colossians 2:8,20, which would keep them ignorant babes in the word of righteousness, and unfit them for the understanding and digesting the stronger food of the higher and more excellent doctrines of the gospel concerning Christ’s priesthood. Such a babe was Nicodemus, though a master in Israel, John 3:10,12. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers,.... These Hebrews had had great advantages; they were not only descended from Abraham, and had the law of Moses, and the writings of the Old Testament, but some of them had enjoyed the ministry of Christ, and however of his apostles; and it was now about thirty years from the day of Pentecost, in which the gifts of the Holy Ghost were bestowed in such an extraordinary manner, and a large number were converted, and a church state settled among them; and therefore considering the length of time, the opportunities and advantages they had enjoyed, it might have been expected, and indeed it is what should have been, that they would have been teachers of others, some in a private, and some in a public way: from whence it may be observed, that to have time for learning, and yet make no proficiency, is an aggravation of dulness; moreover, that men ought to be hearers, and make some good proficiency in hearing, before they are fit to be teachers of others; also, that persons are not only to hear for their own edification, but for the instruction of others, though all hearers are not designed for public teachers; for to be teachers of others, requires a considerable share of knowledge: to which may be added, that the churches of Christ are the proper seminaries of Gospel ministers. But this was so far from being the case of these Hebrews, that the apostle says of them,

ye have need that one teach on again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; by the oracles of God are meant the Scriptures, not the law of Moses only, but all the writings of the Old Testament, which were given by the respiration of God, and are authoritative and infallible; and by the "first principles" of them are intended, either the first promises in them, concerning the Messiah; or the institutions, rites, and ceremonies of the law, which are sometimes called elements, Galatians 4:3 where the same word is used as here; and which were the alphabet and rudiments of the Gospel to the Jews: or else the apostle designs the plain doctrines of the Gospel, which were at first preached unto them, in which they needed to be again instructed, as they were at first; so that instead of going forward, they had rather gone back:

and are become such as have need of milk; of the types, shadows, and figures of the law, which were suited to the infant state of the church, who by sensible objects were directed to the view of Gospel grace; or of the plain and easier parts of the Gospel, comparable to milk for their purity, sweetness, nourishing nature, and being easy of digestion:

and not of strong meat: such as the deep things of God, the mysteries of the Gospel; those which are more hard to he understood, received, and digested; such as the doctrines of the Trinity, of God's everlasting love, of eternal election and reprobation, of the person of Christ, the abrogation of the law, &c.

{7} 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.

(7) An example of an apostolic exhortation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 5:12. Justification of the reproach: νωθροὶ γεγόνατε ταῖς ἀκοαῖς, Hebrews 5:11.

καὶ γὰρ ὀφείλοντες εἶναι διδάσκαλοι] for when ye ought to have been teachers. καί gives intensity to the ὀφείλοντες εἶναι διδάσκαλοι. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:10, al. Arbitrarily Bloomfield (ed. 8), according to whom an intermediate link is to be supplied in connection with καὶ γάρ: “[And such ye are,] for though ye ought, according to the time, to be teachers,” etc.

διὰ τὸν χρόνον] by reason of the space of time, i.e. because already so considerable a space of time has passed since ye became Christians. In like manner is διὰ τὸν χρόνον often employed by classical writers. Comp. e.g. Aelian, Var. Hist. iii. 37: οἱ πάνυ παρʼ αὐτοῖς γεγηρακότεςπίνουσι κώνειον, ὅταν ἑαυτοῖς συνειδῶσιν, ὅτι πρὸς τὰ ἔργα τὰ τῇ πατρίδι λυσιτελοῦντα ἄχρηστοί εἰσιν, ὑποληρούσης ἤδη τι αὐτοῖς καὶ τῆς γνώμης διὰ τὸν χρόνον.

As regards that which follows, there is a controversy as to whether we have to accentuate τίνα or τινά. The word is taken as an interrogative particle by the Peshito and Vulgate, Augustine, Tract. 98 in Joh.; Schlichting, Grotius, Owen, Wolf, Bengel, Abresch, Schulz, Kuinoel, Klee, de Wette, Tischendorf, Stengel, Bloomfield, Conybeare, Delitzsch, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 780; Reuss, Maier, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Hofmann, and the majority. As an indefinite pronoun, on the other hand, it is taken by Oecumenius, Luther, Calvin, Peirce, Cramer, Heinrichs, Böhme, Lachmann, Stuart, Bleek, Ebrard, Bisping, Alford, Woerner, and others. The latter alone grammatically possible. For in the opposite case, since the subject is a varying one in the tempus finitum (χρείαν ἔχετε) and the infinitive (διδάσκειν), either the infinitive passive must be written, τοῦ διδάσκεσθαι ὑμᾶς, or to the infinitive active a special accusative of the subject (perhaps ἐμέ) must be further added. Nor is 1 Thessalonians 4:9 decisive in opposition hereto, since there the reading of Lachmann: οὐ χρείαν ἔχομεν γράφειν ὑμῖν, is the only correct one. See, besides, the remarks in my Commentary on the Thessalonians, ad loc. [E. T. p. 118 f.]. As, moreover, in a grammatical respect, so also in a logical respect is the accentuation τίνα to be rejected. For upon the adopting thereof the thought would arise, that the readers anew required instruction upon the question: which articles are to be reckoned among the στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ, or else: of what nature these are. But manifestly the author is only complaining—as is plain also from the explicative clause: καὶ γεγόνατε κ.τ.λ.—of the fact that the readers, who ought long ago to have been qualified for instructing others, themselves still needed to be instructed in the στοιχεῖα. While, for the rest, de Wette and Riehm erroneously find in the indefinite τινά “too strong a signification,” Delitzsch is equally mistaken in characterizing it as “unmeaning” and “flat.” With justice does Alford remark, in opposition to the last-named: “So far from τινά, some one, being, as Delitzsch most absurdly says, ‘matt und nichtssagend,’ it carries with it the fine keen edge of reproach; q. d. to teach you what all know, and any can teach.”

ὑμᾶς] preposed to the τινά, in order to bring into the more marked relief the antithesis to εἶναι διδάσκαλοι.

The notion of rudimenta already existing in τὰ στοιχεῖα is made yet more definitely prominent by the genitive τῆς ἀρχῆς (Calvin: “quo plus incutiat pudoris”). Thus: the very first primary grounds or elements. Analogous is the use of the Latin prima rudimenta, Justin. vii.5; Liv. Hebrews 1:3; prima elementa, Horace, Serm. i. 1. 26; Quintil. i. 1. 23, 35; Ovid, Fast. iii. 179.

τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ] of the utterances of God. Comp. Acts 7:38; 1 Peter 4:11; Romans 3:2. What is intended is the saving revelations of Christianity, which God has caused to be proclaimed as His word. To think of the Old Testament prophecies, and their interpretation and reference to the Christian relations (Peirce, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Schulz, Stengel, and others; comp. also Hofmann and Woerner ad loc.), is inadmissible; since the expression τὰ λόγια τοῦ θεοῦ, in consideration of its generality, always acquires its nearer defining of meaning only from the context, while here, that which was, Hebrews 5:12, mentioned as τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων τοῦ θεοῦ, is immediately after (Hebrews 6:1) designated ὁ τῆς ἀρχῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ λόγος.

γεγόνατε] reminds anew, even as the preceding πάλιν, of the earlier more gladdening spiritual condition of the readers.

γάλακτος καὶ οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς] On the figure, comp. 1 Corinthians 3:2 : γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, οὐ βρῶμα. Philo, de Agricult. p. 188 (with Mangey, I. p. 301): Ἐπεὶ δὲ νηπίοις μέν ἐστι γάλα τροφή, τελείοις δὲ τὰ ἐκ πυρῶν πέμματα, καὶ ψυχῆς γαλακτώδεις μὲν ἂν εἶεν τροφαὶ κατὰ τὴν παιδικὴν ἡλικίαν, τὰ τῆς ἐγκυκλίου μουσικῆς προπαιδεύματα· τέλειαι δὲ καὶ ἀνδράσιν εὐπρεπεῖς αἱ διὰ φρονήσεως καὶ σωφροσύνης καὶ ἁπάσης ἀρετῆς ὑφηγήσεις. Quod omnis probus liber, p. 889 A (II. p. 470), al.

By the milk, the author understands the elementary instruction in Christianity; by the solid food, the more profound disclosures with regard to the essence of Christianity, for the understanding of which a Christian insight already more matured is called for, In connection with the former, he thinks of the doctrinal topics enumerated Hebrews 6:1-2 (not, as Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Primasius, Clarius, and others suppose, of the doctrine of the humanity of Christ in contradistinction from that of His Godhead, which is foreign to the context); in connection with the latter, mainly of the subject, just the treatment of which will pre-eminently occupy him in the sequel,—the high-priesthood of Christ after the manner of Melchisedec.

The statement of Hebrews 5:12 has been urged by Mynster (Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1829, H. 2, p. 338), Ebrard, and others, in proof that the Epistle to the Hebrews cannot have been addressed to the Palestinean congregations, particularly not to the congregation at Jerusalem. The tenor of the verse might, it is true, appear strange, considering that the congregation at Jerusalem was the parent congregation of all the others, and out of its midst had proceeded the most distinguished teachers of Christianity. Nevertheless this last fact is not at all called in question by the statement of the verse. For the author has present to his mind the condition of the congregation as it was in his own time; he is addressing—in favour of which also διὰ τὸν χρόνον pronounces—a second generation of Palestinean Christianity. The narrow-minded tendency, however, which this second generation had assumed, instead of advancing in its growth to the recognition of the freedom and universality of Christianity as the most perfect religion, might well justify with regard to it the utterance of a reproach such as we here meet with. Only thus much follows from the words,—what is also confirmed by Hebrews 13:7,—that when the author wrote, James the Lord’s brother had already been torn from the congregation at Jerusalem by death, since he would otherwise certainly have written in another tone.Hebrews 5:12. καὶ γὰρ ὀφείλοντες.… “For indeed, though in consideration of the time [since you received Christ] ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the beginning [the elements] of the oracles of God.”—διὰ τὸν χρόνον, cf. Hebrews 2:3, Hebrews 10:32; how long they had professed Christianity we do not know, but quite possibly for twenty or thirty years. Those who had for a time themselves been Christians were expected to have made such attainment in knowledge as to become διδάσκαλοι. This advance was their duty, ὀφείλοντες. Instead of thus accumulating Christian knowledge, they had let slip even the rudiments, so far at any rate as to allow them to fall into the background of their mind and to become inoperative. Their primal need of instruction had recurred. The need had again arisen, τοῦ διδάσκειν ὑμᾶς τινὰ “of some one teaching you,” the genitive following χρείαν, as in Hebrews 5:12 and in Hebrews 10:36. The indefinite pronoun seems preferable, as the form of the sentence requires an expressed subject to bring out the contrast to εἶναι διδάσκαλοι, and to ὑμᾶς. τὰ στοιχεῖαΘεοῦ. The meaning of τῆς ἀρχῆς would seem to be determined by τῆς ἀρχῆς τ. Χριστοῦ in Hebrews 6:1, where it apparently denotes the initial stages of a Christian profession, the stages in which the elements of the Christian faith would naturally be taught. Here, then, “the beginning of the oracles of God” would mean the oracles of God as taught in the beginning of one’s education by these oracles. This of itself is a strong enough expression, but to make it stronger τὰ στοιχεῖα is added, as if he said “the rudiments of the rudiments,” the A B C of the elements. τῶν λογίων τ. θεοῦ, “oraculorum Dei, i.e., Evangelii, in quo maxima et summe necessaria sunt Dei oracula, quae et sic dicuntur, 1 Peter 4:11” (Grotius). The “Oracles of God” sometimes denote the O.T., as in Romans 3:2, Acts 7:38; but here it is rather the utterance of God through the Son (Hebrews 1:1), the salvation preached by the Lord (Hebrews 2:3) (so Weiss). καὶ γεγόνατε χρείαν ἔχοντες γάλακτος … “and are become such as have need of milk and not of solid food,” “et facti estis quibus lacte opus sit, non solido cibo” (Vulgate). For the metaphor, cf. 1 Peter 2:2; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, a strikingly analogous passage, cf. John 16:12, and the Rabbinic term for young students “Theenekoth” “Sucklings” (Schoettgen). The same figure is found in Philo, De Agric., ii. (Wendland, vol. ii., p. 96) ἐπεὶ δὲ νηπίοις μέν ἐστι γάλα τροφή, τελείοις δὲ τὰ ἐκ πυρῶν πέμματα· καὶ ψυχῆς κ.τ.λ. Abundant illustrations from Greek literature in Wetstein. Instead of becoming adults, able to stand on their own feet, select and digest their own food, they had fallen into spiritual dotage, had entered a second childhood, and could only receive the simplest nourishment. Milk represents traditional teaching, that which has been received and digested by others, and is suitable for those who have no teeth of their own and no sufficiently strong powers of digestion. This teaching is admirably adapted to the first stage of Christian life, but it cannot form mature Christians. For this, στερεὰ τροφή is essential.12. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers] That is, “though you ought, by this time, to be teachers, considering how long a time has elapsed since your conversion.” The passage is important as bearing on the date of the Epistle.

ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles] Rather, “ye again have need that borne one teach you the rudiments of the beginning of the oracles of God.” It is uncertain whether we should read τινὰ “that some one teach you” or τίνα “that (one) teach you which are.” The difference in sense is not great, but perhaps the indefinite “some one” enhances the irony of a severe remark. For the word “rudiments” see Galatians 4:3; Galatians 4:9.

the oracles of God] Here not the O.T. as in Romans 3:2.

such as have need of milk] So the young students or neophytes in the Rabbinic schools were called thînokoth “sucklings.” Philo (De Agric. Opp. i. 301) has this comparison of preliminary studies to milk, as well as St Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:1-2.

strong meat] Rather, “solid food.”Hebrews 5:12. Διδάσκαλοι, teachers) A term not of office, but of ability in this passage. The antithesis is τοῦ διδάσκειν ὑμᾶς, that one should teach you.—διὰ τὸν χρόνυν) by reason of the length of time. So Arist. l. 7, Polit. c. 9, uses this phrase. The antithesis is διὰ τὴν ἕξιν, by reason of the matured faculty [habitual use], Hebrews 5:14. Time or age is used here either in the abstract for years; or in the concrete for strength. Age either brings vigour with time, or is impeded by it.—πάλιν χρείαν ἔχετε, ye again have need) Γεγόνατε χρείαν ἔχοντες, ye have need, follows. The former has respect to the doctrinal articles of the Old Testament, the latter to those of New Testament.—τίνα) You must not only be taught the very elements, but also (τίνα) what they are. They are therefore enumerated, ch. Hebrews 6:1-2.—στοιχεῖα) elements. A word used by Paul, Galatians 4:9. And this passage to the end of the chapter plainly abounds in expressions peculiar to Paul. Letters, Buchstaben, elements, first (primary), simple. The articles of the Old Testament are to the perfection of the doctrines of the New Testament, as letters are to further learning. But yet letters, Buchstaben, denote by a trope the principles of learning, which are called rudiments. So every kind of learning has its own elements, and the title elements is often given to a system by no means subtle. Comp. the end of the note on 2 Peter 3:10.—τῆς ἀρχῆς, of the beginning) first principles, ch. Hebrews 3:14, where the one phrase illustrates the other: although the one refers to theory, the other to practice. The antithesis, by the introduction of a resemblance from meats, is explained at the beginning of ch. 6, where the same word again occurs.—τῶν λογίων τοῦ Θεοῦ, of the oracles of God) Romans 3:2.—γάλακτος, of milk) Milk is here the doctrine brought from the Old Testament; 1 Corinthians 3:2.—καὶ) and so. To this refer γὰρ, for, in the following verse.Verse 12. - For when, by reason of the time (i.e. the time that has elapsed since your conversion), ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that some one teach you (or, that one teach you which be) the first principles (literally, the elements of the beginning) of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. Τῆς ἀρχῆς in this verse seems best taken in union with τὰ στοιχεῖα, rather than with τῶν λογίων; the phrase, τὰ στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς, meaning "the initiatory elements" - the A, B, C of Christian teaching. The word λογία ("oracles"), is used elsewhere for the revelations of the Old Testament, as Acts 7:38; Romans 3:2. Here its meaning can hardly be taken as confined to them, since the first principles of the gospel are being spoken cf. Still, a word that includes them in its meaning may be purposely used by way of intimating that the elements intended are those of Judaism as well as Christianity, or of the latter only in its first emergence out of Judaism. And accordingly, vers. 1, 2 of Hebrews 6, where they are enumerated, are (as will be seen) so worded as to imply no more than this; nor are the first principles there mentioned beyond what an enlightened Jew might be expected to understand readily. Be it observed that the Hebrew Church need not be supposed to have actually lost sight of these first principles, so as to require a new indoctrination into them. There may be a vein of delicate irony in what is said, after the manner of St. Paul. All that is of necessity implied is that there had been such a failure in seeing what these principles led to as to suggest the necessity of their being learnt anew. The writer does not, in fact, as he goes on, require them to be learnt anew; for he bids his readers leave them behind, as though already known, and proceed from them to perfection, though still with some misgiving as to their capability for doing so. The figure of milk for babes and solid food for full-grown men, to illustrate the teaching suitable for neophytes and for advanced Christians, is found also in 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2; and that of νήπιος in 1 Corinthians 14:20; Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:14. This correspondence, though no proof of the Pauline authorship, is among the evidences of the Pauline character of the Epistle. When for the time ye ought to be teachers (ὀφείλοντες εἶναι διδάσκαλοι διὰ τὸν χρόνον)

Rend. for when ye ought to be teachers by reason of the time. A.V. entirely obscures the true meaning, which is that, because of the time during which the readers have been under instruction, they ought to be able to instruct others.

Again (πάλιν)

Not with teach you, as A.V., but with ye have need. The position of the word is emphatic. Again ye have need of being taught the very rudiments of divine truth which ye were taught long ago.

Which be (τινὰ)

A.V. takes the pronoun as interrogative (τίνα). Better indefinite as subject of διδάσκειν teach. Rend. "ye have need that some one teach you."

The first principles of the oracles (τα, στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῶν λογίων)

Lit. the rudiments of the beginning of the oracles. The phrase στοιχεῖα τῆς ἀρχῆς N.T.o. It is equals primary elements. For στοιχεῖα see on Galatians 4:3. λόγιον is a diminutive, meaning strictly a brief utterance, and used both in classical and biblical Greek of divine utterances. In Class. of prose oracles. Philo uses it of the O.T. prophecies, and his treatise on the Ten Commandments is entitled περὶ τῶν δέκα λογίων. In lxx often generally - "the word or words of the Lord," see Numbers 24:16; Deuteronomy 33:9; Psalm 12:6; Psalm 18:30, etc. It was used of the sayings of Jesus, see Polycarp, Ad Philippians 7.From the time of Philo, of any sacred writing, whether discourse or narrative. Papias and Irenaeus have τὰ κυριακὰ λόγια dominical oracles. The meaning here is the O.T. sayings, especially those pointing to Christ.

And are become (καὶ γεγόνατε)

As in Hebrews 5:11, implying degeneracy. The time was when you needed the strong meat of the word.

Milk (γάλακτος)

Comp. 1 Corinthians 3:2. Answering to rudiments.

Strong meat (στερεὰς τροφῆς)

Lit. solid meat. See on steadfast, 1 Peter 5:9. More advanced doctrinal teaching. The explanation of the Melchisedec priesthood to which the writer was about to pass involved the exhibition for the first time of the opposition of the N.T. economy of salvation to that of the old, and of the imperfection and abrogation of the O.T. priesthood. To apprehend this consequence of N.T. revelation required alert and matured minds. This is why he pauses to dwell on the sluggish mental and spiritual condition of his readers.

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