First Corinthians 3--Milk and Meat Supplement
Mar 04, 2017
In 1 Corinthians 3:1, 2 Paul spoke about “milk” in terms of foundational teachings that were designed for carnal believers. A longer list of things considered to be “milk” are given to us in Hebrews 6:1, 2,
1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching [This is the milk.] about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward [epi, “upon, on, in”] God, 2 of instruction about washings [baptismos], and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal [aionian, “pertaining to an eon, or age”] judgment.
The book of Hebrews assumes that his audience has already learned the basics of biblical teaching, so he wants to “press on to maturity.” There are six teachings classified as milk:
1. Repentance from dead works
2. Faith toward God (Faith IN God, according to The Emphatic Diaglott)
3. Washings, or baptisms
4. Laying on of hands
5. The resurrection of the dead
6. The age of judgment
Repentance is listed first, because it was the primary message of John the Baptist, who came preaching repentance—that is, an appeal to change one’s behavior and way of thinking. Essentially, it is to learn a new way of life.
Faith in God is next, because it is the fundamental truth that makes us New Covenant believers in Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant. To have faith in God, rather than in one’s self (or in man) means that one must believe that God will fulfill His promises (vows, oaths). The alternative is to believe that man has the ability to keep his Old Covenant vow, as seen in Exodus 19:8.
Washings, or Baptisms is the third glass of milk that is to be taught to new believers. After Israel was justified by the blood of the Lamb at Passover in Egypt, God led them to the Red Sea for baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1, 2).
Laying on of hands is the fourth glass of milk. It implies the impartation of spiritual gifts, as we see in 1 Timothy 4:14.
The resurrection of the dead is the fifth glass of milk. This is what gives us hope (1 Corinthians 15:19), for it is what a believer can expect in the proper time.
The age of judgment is the sixth glass of milk. After the resurrection of the dead comes an age of divine judgment. It is not “eternal,” as it is so often translated. According to St. Augustine, most believers in his day, particularly the church leaders, believed that the age of judgment would end with the salvation of all and the restoration of all things.
At the Great White Throne, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord (Philippians 2:10, 11), but these new believers will also have to grow to spiritual maturity through the baptism of fire (the “fiery law” of Deuteronomy 33:2 KJV). They will have to “learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).
The purpose of judgment is to right all wrongs from the past. It is to restore the lawful order, for only then is justice done. Justice is not done by incarcerating a sinner, nor by torturing him. Justice is accomplished through restitution and payment of debt. (Sin is reckoned as a debt.) So this age of judgment will end with the Creation Jubilee, where all debt is finally cancelled, and every man returns to his God-given inheritance.
These six items are the milk of the word, the foundational teachings of the gospel. Once these things are mastered, it is time to “press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation.”
It is unfortunate that so many long-time believers still need another glass of milk.
This is part 13 of a series titled "Studies in First Corinthians." To view all parts, click the link below.