Hebrews 5:12 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Hebrews 5:12, NIV: In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!

Hebrews 5:12, ESV: For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,

Hebrews 5:12, KJV: For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

Hebrews 5:12, NASB: For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the actual words of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

Hebrews 5:12, NLT: You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God's word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.

Hebrews 5:12, CSB: Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God's revelation again. You need milk, not solid food.

What does Hebrews 5:12 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The writer of Hebrews wants to give a detailed explanation of how the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ is superior to any other. And, he will do just that, in chapters 7 through 10. For now, though, he pauses to point out that some of this deeper meaning will be lost on his intended audience. In the previous verse, this was blamed on being "dull," which was not a reference to intelligence. Rather, the term nōthroi infers someone who is slow-moving or lazy. The Jewish Christians the writer speaks to have become sluggish and apathetic in their spiritual growth.

In these verses, the writer explains their flaw through the analogy of a child's development. Infants have to survive on milk, because they are not mature enough to process solid food. Over time, however, the child's body grows and they need to move on to something other than just milk. In the same way, a Christian's spiritual growth has to begin with the simpler things (1 Peter 2:2). Over time, spiritual growth should lead a believer to understand ideas with greater substance (1 Corinthians 3:1).

As the writer says, the Christians to whom he is writing have more than enough time invested. They should be able to teach others by now, but instead they are still spiritual infants. Why? Because they have been slow-moving and lazy in their approach to the faith: "dull of hearing." Instead of teaching, they still need to be taught, as if they were only new converts to the faith!