First Peter 2:2 reads, “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” In the previous verse, Peter had urged his readers to rid themselves of sinful behaviors and the desires of the natural man. As they laid aside “all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (verse 1), they were to strive for spiritual milk like babies.
Every nursing mother knows the intensity of babies looking for milk, crying until they are satisfied. Experts have shown that a mother’s milk benefits her baby in many ways, including aiding brain development, promoting healthy weight, and bolstering antibodies (www.healthline.com/health/breastfeeding/11-benefits-of-breastfeeding#benefits-for-you). Peter employs this analogy to convey that, as Christians, our overall spiritual growth and well-being hinge on receiving “pure spiritual milk.” But what exactly is this spiritual milk?
Elsewhere, Scripture uses milk as a metaphor for the basic essentials of the gospel and Christian living. In Hebrews 5:12–14, the writer speaks of milk and solid food to encourage readers to move beyond “the elementary truths of God’s word” (verse 12). Paul likewise references milk in 1 Corinthians 3:1–3 in a rebuke to his immature readers. However, Peter uses the term spiritual milk positively, encouraging his readers to feed continually on it.
The “pure spiritual milk” constitutes God’s complete, special revelation, encapsulated in what we now know as the Bible. Some translations, such as the KJV, render the phrase as the “sincere milk of the word.” The Word can also symbolize Christ (John 1:1–5), implying that our craving should extend to deeper knowledge of Christ and closer fellowship with Him. In essence, growth comes as we feed on the written Word and fellowship with the living Word.
The directive in 1 Peter 2:2 is active and imperative, signifying that it is our responsibility to yearn for pure spiritual milk. We are to read, meditate upon, and study God’s written Word both individually and in the company of fellow believers. We should also engage in communion with the living Word and cultivate a deeper understanding of His person and work. Through these activities, we progress toward becoming more like Jesus in character and conduct. We will “grow up in [our] salvation” (1 Peter 2:2b).
Bible-based sermons are also helpful, as are Christian books and Christ-centered songs. Sound teachers facilitate a deeper understanding of God’s Word and rekindle a zeal for more. Well-written Christian books can provide insight into the knowledge of Christ, while songs enhance fellowship and remind us of the beauty found in Christ.
Peter’s instructions serve as a reminder that what we crave and consume profoundly impacts our spiritual growth. The world’s “milk” is impure and only gratifies our sinful desires. False teachings are, at best, spiritual junk and, at worst, poison. We must hunger for pure, unadulterated spiritual nourishment.