I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able (1 Cor 3:2).
Note the past tense verb, gave milk, referring to times in the past when Paul taught the Corinthians milk because they were not ready for meat and that was okay; but the poignant criticism is indeed, even now, you are not yet able. Even now, still, at this point they were not able, when in reality they should have been much more mature and able to think as spiritual followers, feeding on the meat of the Word.
These words of Paul are not only words of chastisement but also words of hurt. Paul had been involved in seeking to mature the Corinthians for about five years, but to no avail. W. Robertson Nicoll notes, “Paul had attempted to carry his Corinthian converts further, but had failed.” The heart of Paul, or anyone who works to mature others in the faith, is conveyed by the words of the Apostle John who said, “I have no greater joy than this to hear of my children walking in truth” (3 John 4). A.T. Robertson said, “It is one of the tragedies of the minister’s life that he has to keep on speaking to the church members ‘as unto babes in Christ’ . . . who actually glory in their long babyhood.” For Christians to mature, the pastor must be solemnly devoted to maturing the believers in the flock of which God has given him oversight, and the people must also desire to mature (1 Peter 2:2). Continue reading