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What the Bible says about Spiritual Babes
(From Forerunner Commentary)

1 Corinthians 3:3

This is similar to what Paul says in Hebrews 5:12. Because they were still children in the faith, he has to speak to them as if they were spiritual babies. This happens all over—it is not confined to Corinth or to the Hebrews, wherever they were. It certainly is applicable to us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wisdom of Men and Faith

Ephesians 4:14-15

Paul suggests that a new convert is a child, unstable in his ways, who really does not know which end is up spiritually. He can easily be tricked and deceived.

Someone who has grown, on the other hand, is someone who is stable, who will not be swept aside by persecutions, trials, deceitful teachings, and false doctrines. He can fight these off because he knows, understands, is convicted, and continues in the truth. However, he did not get to this point without also going through a process of growth. He had to pray, study, obey, make choices, analyze, compare, look at the fruits of things, and so on. He had to set his will and change. As he does these things, growth takes place.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 19)

Ephesians 4:14-15

Verse 14 speaks about us no longer being children, tossed to and fro. This obviously means that a purpose of the ministry is to protect the church from false doctrine. In many respects the ministry has done fairly well in this over the past several years. We have really tried to get back to basics, back to Jude 3 and "the faith once delivered," and to re-prove the doctrines so that the members will know what they should know, be assured of them, and go forward in confidence in them.

Notice in verse 15 that it seems to say that the ministry does this—that they help people no longer be children, guarding them from false doctrine—by speaking the truth in love, and that this causes maturity, moving them from being spiritual babes to taking on the character of God and Christ. When we speak the truth, we expose error, like a light shining in a dark place. The Word of God is often compared to a light. When one turns on a light, darkness is dispelled. So truth exposes error, trickery, craftiness, and deception. It calms and settles, guides and directs. Psalm 19 and Psalm 119 show what the Word of God is and does. It is a worthwhile study to read them to become re-grounded in the effective working of God's Word.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
It Takes a Church

Hebrews 1:1-2

We know the title given to the epistle to the Hebrews is reasonably correct, and Hebrews 1:1-2 provides the internal proof. God sent His prophets to the Hebrew Israelites, including the greatest prophet of all, Jesus Christ. There is no evidence He sent prophets to other nations with any regularity.

However, we must understand that this epistle was not written to Hebrews in general. Like the other epistles, it is directed primarily to Hebrews—Jews or Israelites—who had converted and were fellowshipping in church congregations. Paul, Peter, James, John, Jude, and Matthew were all Israelites, as were others converted through them. Note that other apostles did not send their epistles to the world; they sent them to church of God congregations. Paul explains this spiritually, writing in Romans 2:28-29, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” The “Jews” addressed are people with God's Spirit.

The epistle to the Hebrews is inspired, and Christ's words to His church were passed around to all the congregations. This epistle was most certainly not restricted only to Hebrew Christians but was fully intended for all Christians since its instruction is vital to everyone's salvation. Yet, it went first to aid the Hebrews because of what was happening at that time both spiritually and culturally within their nation because of their faith in Jesus as Savior.

The author writes in Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” This verse indicates that the Hebrew recipients were not young in the faith. Acts 8:1 records what was happening immediately after Stephen's martyrdom: “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Hebrews 10:32 reminds the epistle's original recipients about their earlier persecutions: “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings.” We can conclude that the epistle was written to a group of Christians who were not young in the faith.

Hebrews 13:24 adds: “Greet all those who rule over you, and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you,” giving the impression that the congregation may have been relatively large. It also suggests that the epistle probably went first to the congregation in Jerusalem (Acts 11:22) and then copies were made and sent elsewhere.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Two)

1 Peter 1:22-25

Although gennao can technically mean "begotten," the weight of Scripture is heavily on it meaning "born" rather than "begotten," even in scriptural areas far removed from the John 3 controversy.

In I Peter 1:23, the phrase "having been born again" is anagennao, which comes from gennao, and means "to beget or (by extension) bear (again)." The apostle makes quite clear in I Peter 2:1-2 that he considers those he is writing to as already born, rather than unborn and within a womb. Only a child already born would feed on milk, or Peter's metaphor would be totally wrong.

A similar circumstance appears in Hebrews 5:13-14:

For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Again, the metaphor pictures an already-born child who eats and drinks.

Paul castigates the members of the Corinthian congregation because of their spiritual immaturity, describing them as babies who needed milk:

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able. (I Corinthians 3:1-2)

The metaphor of eating and drinking only works if we are considered already born spiritually. We were spiritually begotten by the Father at some point in the past through His calling, but we have progressed beyond that begettal to a spiritual birth long before the resurrection of the dead. There is not a single verse that shows us to be begotten but not yet born.

The analogy of being begotten and in the womb of the church is not only scripturally wrong, it is totally inadequate when God commands us to do practical activities normal to Christian life. A child in a womb cannot pray, study, fast, serve, consider, choose, sacrifice, humble himself, repent, forgive, be merciful, walk in the Spirit, rejoice, love, use wisdom, be discreet, intercede, or bring glory to God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Born Again or Begotten? (Part Three)


 




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