Pure Spiritual Milk (1 Peter 2:2) – What is It? – Part 1

1 Peter 2:2 reads “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (NIV) There are two important questions that must be answered in this passage: 1) what does “milk” refer to?, and 2) what does logikos (here translated “pure”) mean? [As an aside I note that this is one place where the NIV is more literal than the NASB. The NASB translates this “pure milk of the word.” There is nothing in the Greek to correspond to “of the word.”]

The vast majority of commentators see “milk” as referring to the word of God. This is argued based largely on the previous context (1:23-25) and to an alleged play on words between logikos (pure) and logos (Greek for “word”).  Logikos is seen as describing something free from impurity or that which will not deceive or lead its readers astray. In his commentary on Peter Wayne Grudem says milk refers to the “written word of God” (95). He argues that since the word of God is “mentioned extensively” in the previous three verses “no new idea needs to be introduced into the context”. (95) Other reasons offered by Grudem are: (all references are on page 95)

2) The word is said to be “living” (1:23) which supports the idea that “it is life-giving and capable of nourishing.”

3) The idea that the word of God is nourishing is “consistent with statements elsewhere in Scripture which would be familiar to Peter and his readers (Dt. 8:3; Mt. 4:4).”

4) “The purity of God’s word is an Old Testament concept” and “would fit the imagery of ‘pure’ milk better than any other option.”

5) “The idea of ‘longing’ for God’s word is also an Old Testament concept, and one which is twice expressed with the same verb used by Peter.”

6) “[R]eading or listening to God’s word involves a process of taking information into oneself, a process more readily represented by a metaphor of drinking milk (taking it ‘into’ one’s body) than some other activities—such as prayer or worship—which more clearly involve ‘giving out’ words of prayer or praise.”

In her commentary on Peter Karen Jobes contends that this interpretation (word-milk) is too narrow in its focus. The contrast between the interpretations is easily seen in the way both these commentators title this section of Scripture. Grudem titles it “Be nourished by the Lord through the Word.” Jobes titles it “Moral transformation is spiritual nourishment.” In tomorrow’s post I will give Jobes’ interpretation.

1 Peter    Jobes


About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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