1 Peter 2:2
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby:
There has just been a reference to regeneration as effected by the incorruptible seed of the Word. The metaphor is carried on in these words, which speak of the nourishment and growth of the regenerate. There does not, however, appear to be any limitation of the injunction of our text to Christians in an early stage. For all stages of the Christian life on earth the food which nourishes is the same. All should be growing, and the most mature is still, when his attainments are contrasted with what he wilt be in the future, and when the brief span of earthly life is measured against eternity, but as a new-born babe. So we have here the universal food; the appetite which all should cultivate; and the growth which all may attain.
I. THE TRUE FOOD OF THE CHRISTIAN SOUL IN ALL STAGES. It is impossible to preserve the force of the Greek in an English translation. The two adjectives which qualify "milk" are both ambiguous. That rendered "sincere" in the Authorized and "without guile" in the Revised Version is evidently suggested by the mention of guile in the previous verse, and may either mean "guileless" in the sense of having no by-ends to serve, or more probably "unadulterated." The other epithet may either mean "belonging to a word," or (as it means in Romans 12:1) "spiritual," that is, figurative, not material. The latter is no doubt its meaning here. But that spiritual, unadulterated milk is certainly the Word of God, and probably the expression was chosen because of the very ambiguity. At all events, Peter's thought is plainly that the Christian soul's true food is the Word, which is at once the instrument of regeneration and the support of life. Of course, he intends by "the Word" the truths which that Word brings to men. We are more accustomed to speak of Christ as being the Food of the soul. Is it possible that Peter here is speaking as his brother John would have spoken, and has floating before his mind in this context the thought of that Incarnate Word who liveth for ever, and in his holy humanity was without guile. This is improbable, and not necessary in order to give full force to the text. "The Word of the truth of the gospel" is the life of our souls, because it proclaims and brings to us Christ, who is truly their Life. The only way by which he can enter the soul to give and to sustain a better being is by means of the truth concerning him received and meditated on. Physiologists tell us that milk contains all the constituents needed for healthy life. The truth as it is in Jesus has no admixture of deleterious matters, is unspoiled by men's errors, and has in it all which the soul needs. As much cannot be said of any other "word."
II. THE APPETITE WHICH ALL CHRISTIANS SHOULD CULTIVATE. "Long for" is nearer the intensity of the original than "desire." There is no bodily craving more vehement and tyrannous than that of hunger. We all know how an infant cries for food. Such keenness of appetite ought to mark every Christian. But the very fact that this hunger has to be enjoined is a sad confession. "Infants do not need to be told to seek the mother's breast." But we, alas! have to acknowledge languid indifference and often positive distaste for the wholesome food which God gives. So this appetite has to be cultivated. And that it may, other appetites have to be restrained and starved. We are like children who eat sweetmeats, and so do not care for our meals. If we gorge ourselves on the sugared delights of earth, or on the rank "leeks and garlic" of Egypt, how can the manna but taste insipid to our palates! Therefore abstinence from these, and a tight hand on our desires and passions, are essential if we are to have any healthy hunger for wholesome food. Again, the appetite will in this case secure its being satisfied. This hunger is unlike all other hunger, in that it will certainly be filled. So the apostle does not even say drink, but he only says desire. For he knows that if there be the longing there will be the fruition, as certainly as the air flows into expanded lungs, or the sunshine into opened eyes. Other longings are often pain, and often vain. This is blessed in itself, and blessed in its sure fulfillment. He who can say, "I long for thy Word," will always be able to say," I did eat it, and it was the joy and rejoicing of my heart." Is this eager appetite for the Word of God the characteristic of our Christianity? Does the neglect of Scripture, the preference of almost any book to the Bible, which so many of us must confess, look like it? Does the utter disuse of meditation by such multitudes of professing Christians look like it? Can anybody suppose that people who scarcely ever occupy their minds with Divine truth, except when they languidly sit out a sermon, are thirsting for the pure milk of the Word?
III. THE GROWTH. "Unto salvation" is now usually admitted, as in the Revised Version, at the close of the verse. Of course, that word is here used, as it is in ver. 9 of the previous chapter, for the complete deliverance from evil and investiture with good, which waits the believer in heaven. The whole Christian life on earth, then, is to be a continuous growth. Here we are all but as infants at the best, and we only come to maturity in another life. Salvation is the possession of "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." It is not, as some caricature the Christian doctrine, a mere escape from an outward hell, but is the attainment of the full height of manhood made God-like. That is the goal set before the Christian - an ever-progressive approximation to the unreachable God, an ever-increasing appropriation of infinite perfection into his indefinitely expanding being. And towards that endless growth and eternally increasing knowledge of and likeness to the revealed God in Christ, we may be steadily advancing here. If we will only use the amply adequate means provided for us, and let our souls feed on the Word of God, we shall grow as certainly as the child passes from infancy to boyhood and adolescence. But in order to feeding on that Word there must be rigid self-restraint, and many a struggle with lower appetites. Christian growth is no natural process. The painless, unconscious, spontaneous growth of the infant at the breast, or of the corn in the field, does not tell us all the facts. There are other symbols of Christian progress. It is a pilgrimage often to be trodden with bleeding feet. It is a building which does not "rise like an exhalation," but tasks strength and skill to lay its courses. It is a fight often desperate, always real, and in which that Word of God which is milk for the growing babe, is the sword for the warrior-hand. We have to fight that we may have room to grow; and of our conflict and of our growth the instrument is the Word of God. - A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: