New Testament

Milk and Meat

In preparing for this Sunday’s message (1 Cor. 3:1-4), I find myself still not totally convinced of an interpretation in the passage. The question I had was/is, “What exactly does Paul mean in his reference to milk and meat in 3:2?” Here’s the verse: “I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able” (HCSB).

My initial reading was a reference to the level of teaching Paul sought to impart to the Corinthians. Upon their conversion Paul would have started them on some of the basic truths of the faith, and, as they matured, they would be taught more advanced concepts. After all, Paul says that they were not ready and are still not ready. Persuing the notes in the NET in BibleWorks, the same interpretation was given there.

However, both Fee and Garland argue for a different interpretaion. Rather than seeing a reference to beginner vs. advanced teachings of Christian faith, they read a misperception of Paul’s teaching on the part of the Corinthians. Essentially, both Fee and Garland see “milk” and “meat” as synonymous; it was only the Corinthians’ misperception of Paul’s teaching that led him to say this. The Corinthians, then, perceived Paul’s teaching as “milk” due to their spiritual immaturity, when it was spiritual “meat” all along.

Sorry for not posting reference info (works cited, contextual indicators, etc.), but it’s late and I wanted to post this before I retired for the evening.

I’d be interested in your thoughts. Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

Αυτω η δοξα,



4 thoughts on “Milk and Meat”

  1. As of this morning, I came around to their viewpoint, though I wish I had a few other sources to check. Yeah, I don’t find myself disagreeing with both of them often!

  2. Jason, my comment should have read “accepting” not “excepting” (make the correction if you so desire).

    What brought you around to Fee and Garland’s view?

  3. Fee and Garland’s argument is that Paul had always fed them spiritual meat, it was only that they misunderstood his teaching as “milk.” My assumption is that he had always taught them in this way, particularly before he wrote his “previous letter” (1 Cor. 5:9) and the canonical 1 Corinthians.

    “I have a hard time accepting Fee and Garland” – Whom do you read should you seek commentaries on 1 Corinthians? I have read through many commentaries (not all the way through) on 1 Corinthians, but only have these two immediately accessible.

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