Hebrews 5:13
For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
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(13) The change of expression from having need of milk to partaking of milk (that is, making it the solo food) is significant. Those who are addressed had lost interest in the deeper truths of Christianity, those truths which alone expressed and explained its proper nature. Their temptation apparently was towards mingling a rudimentary Christian doctrine with the teaching of the synagogue. Yielding to this they would lose all real Knowledge of the very elements of Christian truth, and with this all true knowledge of the Old Testament itself. The connection between this verse and the last may probably be, Ye have come to need milk, formaking it by choice your sole foodye stand self-confessed as babes.

Unskilful.—Rather, without experience. The “word of righteousness” evidently must signify complete, properly-developed Christian teaching. The only question is, Why is this particular designation chosen? In the Epistle to the Romans such a description would be natural (see especially Romans 1:17; Romans 9:31); but “righteousness” is not the direct and manifest subject of this Epistle. Still, the expressions of which the writer makes use in Hebrews 10:38; Hebrews 11:7, together with the general similarity between his teaching and St. Paul’s, go very far towards explaining his choice of this special expression as descriptive of the religion of Christ. In like manner another phrase, “law of liberty,” is characteristic of St. James.

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 every one that useth milk - Referring to the food of children. The apostle has in view here those Christians who resemble children in this respect, that they are not capable of receiving the stronger food adapted to those of mature age.

Is unskilful - Inexperienced; who has not skill to perform anything. The word is properly applied to one who has not experience or skill, or who is ignorant. Here it does not mean that they were not true Christians - but that they had not the experience or skill requisite to enable them to understand the higher mysteries of the Christian religion.

In the word of righteousness - The doctrine respecting the way in which men become righteous, or the way of salvation by the Redeemer; see the notes on Romans 1:17.

For He is a babe - That is, in religious matters. He understands the great system only as a child may. It is common to speak of "babes in knowledge," as denoting a state of ignorance.

13. useth—Greek, "partaketh," that is, taketh as his portion. Even strong men partake of milk, but do not make milk their chief, much less their sole, diet.

the word of righteousness—the Gospel wherein "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith" (Ro 1:17), and which is called "the ministration of righteousness" (2Co 3:9). This includes the doctrine of justification and sanctification: the first principles, as well as the perfection, of the doctrine of Christ: the nature of the offices and person of Christ as the true Melchisedec, that is, "King of righteousness" (compare Mt 3:15).

The Spirit proves these Hebrews such infants by describing the state of them, and of their contrary, and tacitly applying it to them under a metaphor or allegory started by him before.

For every one that useth milk; for, saith he, every one of you who take in nothing but the elements and weakest kind of doctrines, and can bear no other, have not digested the first principles of the oracles of God.

Is unskilful in the word of righteousness; are apeirov, not truly knowing, not proving nor experiencing, never exercised or practised in, the word of righteousness, the gospel doctrine, which is in itself an eternal certain truth, the revelation of the righteousness of God to faith, Romans 1:16,17, and the instrumental conveyer of it to faith; a perfect rule of righteousness, making Christians conform exactly to the mind and will of God, and so reaching the state of strong and perfect ones, Colossians 1:25-29.

For he is a babe; he is but a new-born Christian, a child in Christ’s school, one that cannot be experienced in the perfections of God’s word, because he is weak in knowledge, ignorant and unconstant like an infant, 1 Corinthians 14:20; compare Ephesians 4:14.

For everyone that useth milk,.... And sits down contented with the first principles of the Gospel, such as are easily taken in and digested; or makes use of the ceremonial law, as a schoolmaster to teach him the Gospel:

is unskilful in the word of righteousness; the Gospel, which is a doctrine of righteousness; not of works of righteousness done by men, and of justification by them, or of a man's own righteousness; but of the pure, perfect, and everlasting righteousness of Christ: and it is called so, because it is the means of stripping a man of his own righteousness; and of revealing the righteousness of Christ unto him; and of working faith in him to lay hold upon it; and of discovering the agreement there is between the righteousness of Christ, and the justice of God; and of teaching men to live soberly, righteously, and godly: and such are unskilful in it, who either have no knowledge of the doctrine of justification; of the matter of it, Christ's righteousness; of the form of it, by imputation; and of the date of it, before faith: or have a very confused notion of it, joining their own works with Christ's righteousness, for justification, as many judaizing professors did; or who, if they have a notional knowledge of it, have no practical concern in it; do not believe with the heart unto righteousness; have not the experience, sweetness, and power of this doctrine upon them; and do not live lives agreeable to it:

for he is a babe. This word is used sometimes by way of commendation, and is expressive of some good characters of the saints; such as harmlessness and inoffensiveness, humility, and meekness, a desire after the sincere milk of the word, freedom from rancour and malice, hypocrisy and guile; but here it is used by way of reproach, and denotes levity and inconstancy, ignorance and non-proficiency, want of digestion of strong meat, and incapacity to take care of themselves, as standing in need of tutors and governors.

For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the {l} word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

(l) In the word that teaches righteousness.

Hebrews 5:13-14. Establishing of the γεγόνατε χρείαν ἔχοντες γάλακτος καὶ οὐ στερεᾶς τροφῆς, Hebrews 5:12. Sense: for it is universally characteristic of him who (in a spiritual respect) has need of milk, that he is, because not of ripe age, still inexperienced in the λόγος δικαιοσύνης; and this is just your case. Solid food, on the other hand, is proper only for the τέλειοι; τέλειοι, however, ye are not yet. In connection with this acceptation of the words, there is no occasion for finding anything out of place in the γάρ in relation to that which precedes, and either, with Storr, making it co-ordinate with the γάρ, Hebrews 5:12, and referring it back like this to Hebrews 5:11,—which on account of the figure Hebrews 5:13-14, retained from Hebrews 5:12, is already seen to be inadmissible,—or for saying, with Bleek and Bisping, that the progress of thought would come out more naturally if the author had written: πᾶς γὰρ ὁ ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης μετέχει γάλακτος· νήπιος γάρ ἐστιν.

ὁ μετέχων γάλακτος] he who (in a spiritual respect) partakes of milk, i.e. only in this possesses his nourishment, is not in a position to take in solid food. Bengel: Lacte etiam robusti vescuntur, sed non lacte praecipue, nedum lacte solo. Itaque notantur hoc loco ii, qui nil denique nisi lac aut capiunt aut petunt.

ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης] sc. ἐστίν, he is still inexperienced in the word of righteousness. Expositors have almost without exception been guided by the presupposition (as also Bleek, de Wette, Tholuck, Kurtz still are) that λόγος δικαιοσύνης is only a varying form of expression for the same idea as is expressed, Hebrews 5:12; Hebrews 5:14, by στερεὰ τροφή, or, Hebrews 6:1, by τελειότης. λόγος δικαιοσύνης has then either been taken as equivalent to λόγος δίκαιος or τέλειος, and the higher, more perfect type of doctrine found indicated in the expression. So Schlichting (“sermo justitiae videtur positus pro sermone justo, h. e. perfecto ac solido”), Grotius (“Hic δικαιοσύνης dixit pro τελειότητος … et genitivus est pro adjective”), Abresch (“doctrina vel institutio justa, h. e. perfecta, plena, omnia complectens, quae ad perspicuam distinctamque pertineant doctrinae Christianae intelligentiam”), Schulz (“that true [rightly so called] higher doctrine”), Kuinoel, Bisping, Kurtz, and many others. Or δικαιοσύνης has been more correctly regarded as genitive of the object. In the latter case δικαιοσύνη is taken either, as Michaelis, ad Peirc., with an appeal to the Hebrew צְדָקָה, in the sense of ἀλήθεια,[75] as the doctrine of the essence of the matter itself, in opposition to the typical figures thereof; or λόγος δικαιοσύνης is understood specially, as by Oecumenius, of the λόγος περὶ τῆς θεότητος τοῦ κυρίου, or, as by Carpzov, of the: “doctrina de sacerdotio Jesu Christi Melchisedeciano, quae dicitur ὁ λόγος δικαιοσύνης propterea, quia Melchisedecus, vi nominis, βασιλεὺς δικαιοσύνης vertitur, Hebrews 7:2, eaque appellatio ad Christum sacerdotem applicatur, cujus πρέπον fuit πληρῶσαι πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην, Matthew 3:15;” or the words are made to refer, as by Primasius, Zeger, Bengel, de Wette, and others, to intellectual and moral perfection in general, as also already Chrysostom, who explains the expression by Ἡ ἌΝΩ ΦΙΛΟΣΟΦΊΑ (and after him Theophylact), leaves us the choice of understanding the ΒΊΟς ἌΚΡΟς ΚΑῚ ἨΚΡΙΒΩΜΈΝΟς (according to Matthew 5:20), or ΤῸΝ ΧΡΙΣΤῸΝ ΚΑῚ ΤῸΝ ὙΨΗΛῸΝ ΠΕΡῚ ΑὐΤΟῦ ΛΌΓΟΝ. But the fundamental presupposition, out of which all these interpretations have sprung, is an erroneous one. For the emphasis falls not upon ΛΌΓΟς ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗς, but upon the ἌΠΕΙΡΟς, on that account preposed. Not for a non-possession of the ΛΌΓΟς ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗς, but only for a want of experience in the same, only for an insufficient, schoolboy’s knowledge of it, does the author blame the readers. The ΛΌΓΟς ΔΙΚΑΙΟΣΎΝΗς in itself, therefore, stands as indifferently related to the notion of the ΣΤΕΡΕᾺ ΤΡΟΦΉ or ΤΕΛΕΙΌΤΗς as to the notion of the ΣΤΟΙΧΕῖΑ, to which Ebrard reckons it. Only by the more or less exhaustive imparting of its subject-matter does it become the one or the other. For the word of righteousness is nothing more than a periphrasis of Christianity or the gospel, inasmuch as just the righteousness availing with God[76] is the central-point of its contents. Quite analogous to this mode of designation is the Pauline characterization of the gospel office of teaching by ἠ διακονία τῆς δικαιοσύνης, 2 Corinthians 3:9, and of the teachers of Christianity by διάκονοι δικαιοσύνης, 2 Corinthians 11:15; on which account also it is unnecessary, for the justification of the expression chosen, with Bleek, Bisping, and Maier, to assume an allusion to the exposition of the name Melchisedec, βασιλεὺς δικαιοσύνης, given Hebrews 7:2.

νήπιος γάρ ἐστιν] for he is still a babe, a novice in Christianity. Setting forth of the naturalness of the ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης.

[75] Delitzsch, too, with an allusion to the use of צֶדֶק, ישֶׁר, מֵישָׁרִים, takes δικαιοσύνη as a synonym of ἀλήθεια; but will then have the genitive δικαιοσύνης looked upon not as expressing the contents, but as a defining of the quality of λόγος, and will interpret λόγος of the faculty of speech. Thus, then, λόγος δικαιοσύνης is taken to mean: “the faculty of speaking in accordance with righteousness,” i.e. the “discourse on spiritual things which is guided in strict accord with the norm of the true, and harmoniously combines all the factors of the case, proportionately regarded, without leaving one of them out of sight;” and in ver. 13 is supposed to be contained the following “most rigid connection of ideas:” “he who must still receive milk is still ignorant of rightly-constituted, i.e. right-teaching or orthodox, discourse; for he is a child only beginning to lisp, and not yet capable of speech.” This strange view, based upon the incomprehensible grounds, that “since νήπιος (from νη and ἔπος) denotes one incapable of speech, an infant, there is a presumption in favour of λόγος in ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης having the signification of faculty of speech,—and this signification is here the more probable in regard to the αἰσθησήρια occurring in the antithetic parallel clause, inasmuch as ὁ λόγος, in the sense of language, is met with countless times in Philo along with the αἴσθησις or the πέντε αἰσθήσεις, of which the organs are known as αἰσθητήρια,”—bears its refutation upon the face of it. It is not at all suitable to the connection, as Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 734) and Alford have already observed; since according to this there is no question as to the faculty for speaking on spiritual subjects, but only as to the faculty for understanding the same.—As “discourse” will Hofmann also have λόγος interpreted, in that he fully subtilizes the notion lying in δικαιοσύνη, and finds indicated by the total expression λόγος δικαιοσύνης only “correct discourse.” For, according to him, the words ver. 13 are used in their most literal sense, and allude to the fact that he who is still fed with milk at the maternal breast is as yet no judge of correct discourse!

[76] Of the righteousness availing with God (comp. also Hebrews 11:7), have Beza, Jac. Cappellus, Peirce, Storr, Klee, Tholuck, Bleek, Stein, Ebrard, Bloomfield, and others already rightly interpreted δικαιοσύνη.—In the above exposition, Alford, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 733), and Woerner have concurred; save that, according to Riehm, by virtue of an over-refined distinction, the gospel is not called the word of righteousness “because the righteousness availing with God is the central-point of its contents,” but “because it leads to righteousness; because, by its proclamation to man, the possibility is created and the opportunity is afforded of entering into a condition of the rightness of his relation to God, inasmuch, namely, as he assumes a believing attitude towards the word proclaimed.” But why should the author, familiar as he was with Paul’s manner of teaching, and attaching his own doctrinal presentation thereto,—albeit with independence of character,—have shrunk from recognising, as the central theme of the gospel, “the righteousness which avails with God,” since even this was only a general notion, which did not exclude a peculiar conception and treatment, where it was a question of the development of details, and insistance thereon?

Hebrews 5:13. πᾶς γὰρνήπιος γάρ ἐστι. “For every one who partakes of milk [as his sole diet] is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe.” The reference of γὰρ is somewhat obscure. It seems intended to substantiate the last clause of Hebrews 5:12 : “Ye cannot receive solid food, for you have no experience of the word of righteousness”. But he softens the statement by generalising it. Every one that lives on milk is necessarily unacquainted with the higher teaching, which is now λόγος δικ. ἄπειρος having no experience of, ignorant; as κακότητος ἄπειροι, Empedocles in Fairbanks, Phil. of Greece, p. 202. ἄπειρος ἀγρεύειν, Babrius, lxix. 2; ἄπ. τοῦ ἀγωνίζεσθαι, Antiphon, Jebb, p. 8. λόγου δικαιοσύνης, with teaching of righteous conduct the suckling has nothing to do; he cannot act for himself, but can merely live and grow; he cannot discern good and evil, and must take what is given him. Righteousness is not within the suckling’s horizon. He cannot as yet be taught it; still less can he be a teacher of it (Hebrews 5:12) νήπιος γάρ ἐστι, for he cannot even speak [νη-ἔπος = infans], he is an infant. The infant can neither understand nor impart teaching regarding a life of which he has no experience, and whose language he does not know. Indirectly, this involves that the higher instruction the writer wished to deliver was important because of its bearing on conduct. [Other interpretations abound. Chrysostom and Theophylact understand the reference to be either to the Christian life or to Christ Himself and the knowledge of His person. Others, as Beza, Lünemann, and many others, take it as “a periphrasis for Christianity or the Gospel, inasmuch as the righteousness which avails with God is precisely the contents of the Gospel”. Riehm also thinks that the Gospel is meant, “because it leads to righteousness”. Westcott understands it of the “teaching which deals at once with the one source of righteousness in Christ, and the means by which man is enabled to be made partaker of it”. The view of Carpzov, and also that of Bleek, is governed by the connection of Melchizedek with righteousness in Hebrews 7:2.]

13. that useth milk] The meaning is “who feeds on milk.”

unskilful] “Inexperienced.”

for he is a babe] This is a frequent metaphor in St Paul, who also contrasts “babes” (nçpioi) with the mature (teleioi), Galatians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 2:6; Ephesians 4:13-14. We are only to be “babes” in wickedness (1 Corinthians 14:20).

the word of righteousness] i.e. the Scriptures, and especially the Gospel (see 2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 1:17, “therein is the righteousness of God revealed”).

Hebrews 5:13. Ὁ μετέχων, he that partakes) Even strong men feed on milk, but not on milk chiefly, much less on milk alone. Therefore they are intended m this passage, who, in short, either take or seek nothing but milk.—ἄπειρος, unskilful) not expert, without strength and practice.—λόγου δικαιοσύνης, in the word of righteousness) Δίκαιον from δίχα: comp. διάκρισιν, discernment, in the following verse. For δικαιοσύνη, righteousness, is such perfection (תמים Joshua 24:14, LXX.) as after having put away evil from it, attains to the just (proper) degree of good: γεγυμνασμένα (Hebrews 5:14), exercised, is in consonance with it; comp. Hebrews 12:11, where in like manner exercise and righteousness are joined. Such a word of righteousness is the doctrine of Christ in the New Testament. Righteousness of faith and of life is understood, and each on either side, according as circumstances have arisen.—νήπιος, a babe) The antithesis is τελείων, of them that are perfect: comp. Ephesians 4:13-14.

Verse 13. - For every one that partaketh of milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. Reason for saying that they are such as have need of milk; for milk is the nourishment of infants, and he that is an infant in respect of spiritual growth is ἄπειρος λόγου δικαιοσύνης: not of necessity unacquainted with it altogether, but still not versed in it; he is but a tyro. "Word of righteousness" may be taken as a general term to denote what we might call religious lore; referring here especially to the gospel, which is eminently the revelation of the "righteousness of God" (Romans 1:17; cf. 2 Corinthians 3:9, ἡ διακονία τῆς δικαιοσύνης: and 2 Cor 11:15, διάκονοι δικαιοσύνης); but not excluding a more general conception. There is no need to suppose an exclusive reference to the more perfect doctrine in opposition to the elements, since, of the whole subject of religious knowledge, the νήπιος may be said to be ἄπειρος in the sense of being without the matured skill that experience gives. Hence, too, we are certainly not justified in finding in the phrase a specific allusion to the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith only, which is not suggested by the context or by what follows. Still less may we (with Delitzsch) so ignore the notable significance of δικαιοσύνη as to reduce the expression to a synonym for "rightly framed, that is sound and orthodox discourse." Hebrews 5:13Useth (μετέχων)

Rend. partakes of. See on Hebrews 1:9; see on Hebrews 2:14; see on Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 3:14.

Unskilful (ἄπειρος)

N.T.o. Rend. unskilled or inexperienced.

In the word of righteousness (λόγου δικαιοσύνης)

The phrase N.T.o. The genitive δικαιοσύνης of righteousness is combined in N.T. with way, God, gift, instruments, servants, law, ministration, fruit and fruits, ministers, hope, breastplate, crown, king, preacher. It is a mistake to attempt to give the phrase here a concrete meaning. It signifies simply a word of normally right character. It is not equals the Christian revelation, which would require the article. Probably, however, in the foreground of the writer's thought was the word spoken by the Son (Hebrews 1:2); the salvation which at first was spoken by the Lord (Hebrews 2:3).

A babe (νήπιος)

See on Romans 2:20; see on 1 Corinthians 3:1; see on Ephesians 4:14.

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