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Bible Study Commentary

1 PETER

Lesson 8:  Spiritual Nourishment

1 Peter 2:1-3

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Peter’s topics continue to build upon the purpose of the whole epistle which is to exhort the early Christians about living as God’s people in the midst of a godless society. In this passage, Peter will encourage them to desire spiritual nourishment in order to keep them growing in their salvation.

What do you think is the main point of our current passage?

answer: The grammar of verses 1-3 indicates that the main verb is crave. Peter’s main point from the passage is to crave pure spiritual milk (or milk of the word).

Why should a Christian get rid of negative practices mentioned in verse 1?

answer: The word "therefore" refers to verses 1:22-25 (Lesson 7) as the reason for the exhortation in verse 2:1. They need to get rid of these evil practices because such behaviors are contrary to loving one another deeply. They have already been purified and born again through the Word of God with new natures and desires.

"2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk," (NIV)

" 2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, (KJV)

How would you explain the difference between the wording of the NIV from the KJV?

answer: The Greek word ‘logikos’ has three possible translations: (1) ‘of the word’ seems to be the natural translation in relation to the message of 1:22-25. (2) ‘reasonable’ or ‘rational’ is also common although it does not really fit the context of our passage. (3) ‘spiritual’ is preferred by most scholars and it does fit in our current context. I would agree with spiritual, although the sense "of the word" cannot be fully ignored.

The Greek word adolos translated ‘sincere’ or ‘pure’ means free from guile or deceit. It is something that is unadulterated, uncontaminated or without mixture.

Does the statement "Like newborn babies," indicates that readers of the epistle are newly converts or "baby Christians"?

answer: Not necessarily. Peter does not intends to say that the early believers are still immature or that they are acting like babies. Also, Peter was not asking them to become like babies. Such an idea does not agree with the teaching of the whole epistle (e.g. suffering, holiness). The comparison of the believers is not on the maturity or on every characteristics of a baby, but rather he is telling them to imitate the "craving" of a baby for food. This is the main point of this phrase. Every Christian in every level of maturity should always crave or desire for spiritual food like a baby craves for milk.

Bible Interpretation guide: It is very common to compare our passage to Hebrews 5:12-13 or 1 Corinthians 3:2. I believe such comparison is misleading. Peter and the author of Hebrew uses milk to represent two different ideas. Peter simply uses the metaphor of milk for the believers spiritual nourishment because he wants them to imitate the cravings of a baby for food. On the other hand, the author of Hebrews explicitly intends to use milk as a metaphor for elementary teaching of the Scripture. Peter does not suggest a difference between food for the mature and immature rather he is pointing to the cravings for spiritual nourishment of every believers in general. We should avoid mixing the two different passages with two different contexts. Each passages should be interpreted based on its own context and the intention of its original author.

How do you think the early believers understood the exhortation of Peter that says: "crave pure spiritual milk" (or "milk of the word")? 

answer: It would be difficult to imagine that Peter is simply telling them to read and study the Bible everyday since the copy of the Bible was not available as it is today. Many of them may have been illiterate. Peter is actually encouraging them to desire to grow spiritualy with all the nourishment available to them as a community of believers. Spiritual milk would be everything that would help them grow spiritually such as prayer, fellowship, worship, and listening to the teaching of God’s Word. This new desire was the opposite of their old sinful desires mentioned in verse 1:14.

"so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."

Notice that KJV does not have the part "in your salvation," in comparison with NIV. The reason for this difference is the fact that some older manuscripts (not available during the writing of KJV) have "unto salvation" at the end of verse 2:2.

What is the purpose of their craving for spiritual milk?

answer: For them to grow up in their salvation. In context of what Peter said about salvation in chapter 1, he seems to suggest that by continually nourishing themselves spiritually they would obtain the future salvation that is being kept in heaven ready to be revealed in the last time (see 1:4-5).

Verse 3 is in reference of Psalm 34:8a "Taste and see that the LORD is good;" (NIV)

What is the motivation for craving spiritual milk?

answer: Peter did not simply say that spiritual milk tastes good but that the Lord tastes good. Spiritual milk is associated with experiencing the goodness of God and Jesus Christ in their lives. The early believers have already tasted that the Lord was good. Peter is not asking them to try something that is new to them. Peter wants them to continue partaking or practicing what they have already tasted (experienced) and know that it is good.

Present Application

Every Christian has received a new life from God. By the example of a baby’s craving for milk, Peter encourages us to have the same craving for our spritual nourishment.

What are the sources of our spiritual nourishment as Christians in our modern society?

answer: Just like the early believers, we need to be prayerful, we need to attend fellowship with other believers to worship God, hear the Word, and to minister and encourage one another. Unlike the early believers, we all have access to the Bible for our personal reading and devotion and we should do so regularly.

How important it is to continually crave for spiritual nourishment as Christians?

answer: Cravings for spiritual nourishment is an indication that we are a child of God. Just like our physical body needs food, anytime we loose interest on spiritual nourishments, it tells us that we are spiritually sick or dying. Spiritual nourishment is our source of strength, maturity and growth in every aspect of our spiritual life.

Is there anything else that you can learn from Lesson 8? How would you apply it to your life today?

answer: [Write in your answer]

Summary of Lesson 8: Peter opens up the chapter with an exhortation to get rid of practices that is contrary to loving one another deeply. He exhorts them to continually crave spiritual nourishment like a baby craves for milk if they want to grow up in their salvation. This is essential, and since all of them knows that life with Jesus Christ is good.  Let's go to Lesson 9.

Note to teachers:  If you have any questions, need additional clarification, or have comments concerning this commentary, please do not hesitate to inform me. CLICK HERE