Posted On November 18, 2011

Every week I am going to take a question and answer it. If you have a question or questions feel free to submit it here: https://servantsofgrace.org/contact/ and it will be answered either on the website or privately. This week’s question is, “How do I grow from immaturity into maturity in Christ?

The author in Hebrews 5:12 is sharpening and expanding why the Hebrew believers are sluggish; not growing in mature understanding as they should be. The exhortation here extends to all believers not just teachers. Furthermore, any mature believer in Christ should be able to lead others by word and example to maturity.[1]

The irony is that members of the community have need for someone to instruct them again. The author was aware that they had received teaching in the Christian faith from the time they had heard and believed the message of salvation (Heb. 2:1-4). His assessment of their situation now however, is that they need to be taught all over again.

At one level, they ought to go back to the basics. The community needs to be taught “the most elementary matters of the oracles of God’.  Dr. O’Brien notes that the term stoicheia could refer to physical or metaphysical principles, as well as ‘letters’ or ‘elements of the alphabet’, or by extension ‘any basic teaching.’[2] The community needed to learn the elementary teachings of the Christian faith. Some of the “first principles” are mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-2.  The “therefore” in Hebrews 6:1 shows his commitment to move his readers from their present state of immaturity by providing them with the advanced teaching they need for insight and commitment. F.F. Bruce notes that their particular condition of immaturity is such that only an appreciation of what is involved in Christ’s high priesthood will cure it.[3] Dr. Guthrie explains that the admonition of 6:1 has to do with the listeners’ indifference to weightier matters of Christ-following and their consequent need to move to a new level of commitment.[4]

In urging his readers to move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ, the author is not suggesting that they should move behind the Gospel as is often thought for some form of deeper or fuller instruction for initiates. There is no proposal here that the listeners should abandon these basic truths. The author reminds them of some of the essential elements of the foundation by immediately listing them in vv.1b-2. His point is that they are not to lay again the basis for elementary teaching, but to make progress by building on it. The solid food that they have need of is ‘a development of the themes of repentance and faith, resurrection from the dead and eternal judgment’, in the light of the author’s ‘exposition of the high priesthood of Christ’. The author of Hebrews calls his readers and believers today to grow deeper into their understanding of Christ by apprehending and appropriating who Christ is as their High Priest which will result in radically re-orienting everything from how they conduct themselves in their marriages, Christian lives, and ministry. The end result of growing in understanding the High Priestly ministry of Jesus is that the believer will move on from immaturity to maturity in Christ.

 


[1] In Colossians, Paul and his c-workers engage in teaching others as they proclaim Christ. At the same time, they apostle recognizes that members of the congregation at Colossae will all teach and admonish one another in their singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (3:16). The language of teaching is used of a narrow group and of the whole congregation within the letter.

[2] Peter. T. O’Brien, The Letter To The Hebrews (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2010), 207.

[3] F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Rev. Ed. NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990),138.

[4] George H. Guthrie, Hebrews. NIVAC (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1998), 205.

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