“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
This passage is written to those who were guilty of spiritual regression. Rather than going forward in their learning and walk with Christ, they were going backwards. Instead of moving toward maturity, they were moving toward immaturity. This should serve as a warning to all of us. If we are not progressing, we will soon be regressing. If we are not advancing, we will be retreating.
This process of regression takes time. Notice the words in our text: “are become such as have need of milk.” It is not something that happens instantly, but over a period of time. A person can go from being a growing and vibrant Christian to becoming spiritually complacent and weak. Our Scripture further describes the subjects as saying, “when for the time ye ought to be teachers.” These were not new believers. They had been converted long enough that they should have been teaching others. This should not be interpreted exclusively as meaning that they should have a public teaching ministry, but they should have been able to explain Bible truths to others. This is part of our privilege and purpose as ambassadors for Christ. We are to be able to give a Bible answer for what we believe. God would have us be capable to teach our family members, friends, neighbors, and associates.
The solution to this spiritual regression is simple and clear. They would need to relearn what they had been taught previously. The verse says, “ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.” The word “again” means they had been taught before. This describes something quite common among professing Christians. They have forgotten what they learned. Because of spiritual neglect, they have been in a backslidden condition. This reminds us of the adage, “Use it or lose it.”
The answer for them is to get started on a steady diet of the basic doctrines of Scripture. Sometimes people want to skip over the basics and go to more advanced principles. It is always wise to begin with the elementary truths, or milk, of God’s Word. This is true of the new believer, as well as the one needing to be taught again.