Tag Archives: 1 Corinthians 1

Breast-feeding the Church

Tuesday Re-mix –

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”…Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ.  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?  For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?  1 Corinthians 1:11-12; 3:1-4

The milk/solid food metaphor was apparently popular in the early church.  Paul used it.  The writer of Hebrews used it.  Peter used it.  Some metaphors just work so well, they “catch on” and make the rounds, I suppose.  It strikes me that this metaphor probably conjured up different images for the early church than it does for us today.  When we think of babies drinking milk today, we may have images of bottles or sippy cups going through our minds.  But in the days of the early church, I suspect the images were more of babies breast-feeding or perhaps of baby animals being fed by their mother.  It was the very natural process of the mother digesting the solid food for the babies and then passing it on to them through her milk.  Bottom line: being on a milk diet was the most helpless, immature form of existence.

Another interesting thing about this metaphor is that, when you or I read it in scripture, …