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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE HEBREWS - Chapter 5 - Verse 12

Verse 12. For when for the time. Considering the time which has elapsed since you were converted. You have been Christians long enough to be 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 neighbours, to their neighbours; 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 occasions, 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 here used explained See Barnes "Ro 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 Barnes "Ro 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 Pe 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" ginomai—sometimes implies a change of state, or a passing from one state to another—well expressed by the phrase "are become." See Mt 5:45; 4:3; 13:32; 6:16; 10:25; Mr 1:17; Ro 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 towards 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.

{++} "time" "For whereas by this time" {d} "milk" 1 Co 3:1-3

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