Hebrewsby Robert M. Solomon
As the author begins to develop the key idea of the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus, he takes a detour to address the immaturity of his readers, who may have difficulty understanding what he was trying to say. He tells them what they should be and what can be done to achieve that (Hebrews 5:14; see 6:1-3).
There was ″much to say about this″ (Hebrews 5:11) since the Christian faith has breadth and depth that is seldom appreciated by Christians. The writer says that ″it is hard to explain″ because his readers have ″become dull of hearing″ (v. 11 ESV). The word ″dull″ (Greek nōthros) means ″slow-moving in mind, torpid in understanding, dull of hearing, witlessly forgetful″.21
It is understandable that beginners often have difficulty understanding something that is quite new to them. But the writer's complaint is that the readers had remained in elementary school (so to speak) for a long time, and had not grown up to maturity and deeper understanding of God's Word and ways. They should have developed enough to be able to teach others, but instead they still need to be taught the basic stuff-the ″elementary truths of God's word″-again and again (Hebrews 5:12). They are compared to infants, who need milk and do not take solid food well (v. 12). Infants need to be weaned off milk at a certain age, when solid food is introduced to their diet. But imagine a teenager still drinking milk like an infant! That is the source of the writer's exasperation over the spiritual development of his readers. They needed to take in solid teaching about righteous living (v. 13), but are unwilling or unable.
Solid food is for the physically mature; likewise, the deeper teachings from God's Word are for the spiritually mature. Christians become mature by ″constant use″ of God's Word (Hebrews 5:14)- that is to say, they have constantly read, meditated on, and applied Scripture in their lives through faithful obedience. Understand and applying God's Word in our lives is how we train ourselves to ″distinguish good from evil″ (v. 14). The Christian is filled with deepening knowledge of God by reading the Bible, developing a biblical mind-set that will help him to discern all that comes his way.
21Barclay, ″The Letter to the Hebrews″, 49.
Why do many Christians refuse to grow up? What does it mean to be mature in Christ? Compare yourself now to three years ago. How have you matured or grown in the Lord?
How can a Christian make ″constant use″ (Hebrews 5:14) of what the Holy Spirit teaches from the Word? Why is understanding and application so important in the maturing process? Is there any area where you need to train yourself in this regard?