Do You Desire the Word?

This coming Sunday I am going to be preaching 1 Peter 2:1-3 at my local church. As I was putting the finishing touches on my sermon notes, I thought it would be a fun exercise to share them with you. The following is an exegesis of 1 Peter 2:1-3 about desiring the “pure spiritual milk,” which I am preaching to encourage attendance in our Sunday morning Bible Study Groups.

Context

When you look at 1 Peter 2:1, you will notice that, depending on your translation, the first word is most-likely either “so,” “therefore,” or “wherefore.”

This means that what Peter is about to say is based on what he has just said, so we need to go back and pick up a little bit of context.

The section of the letter that precedes this is 1:22-25, and in those verses Peter begins to talk about how believers should relate to one another.

The main verb, the imperative, the command, comes towards the end of v22. The command is for believers to love one another earnestly/deeply/fervently.

Peter then goes on in 1:23-25 to give the reason why believers should love one another.

In these verses Peter introduces two ideas that he will expound upon in 2:1-3—being born again and the word of God.

So with that in mind, we jump into our focal text of 1 Peter 2:1-3.

1 Peter 2:1

The idea here is that, since they are to love one another earnestly, they need to rid themselves of all these behaviors that are contrary to love.

Wickedness or malice is ill-will towards others, possibly with the intent to harm, which destroys harmony and unity.

Deceit or guile and the next term, hypocrisy, are closely related. The idea is being fake and disingenuous, which also destroys harmony and unity among believers.

Envy is two-fold: coveting what others have, but also hoping for their downfall. When you don’t look out for others before yourself, there will not be unity.

Finally, slander has to do with our speech. Slander is bringing people down and speaking lies about others, which obviously breeds factions rather than harmony and unity.

And the word that precedes all of these negative actions is “rid yourselves.” It literally means “to take off” or “to cast aside.” And the verb form Peter uses suggests this is not something we do once and forget about it, rather it is something we must do daily.

We must constantly and continually be ridding ourselves of these and other behaviors that are contrary to love.

So that’s v1, and now we move on to v2, the verse that contains our main command.

1 Peter 2:2-3

The imperative, the command here is “desire” or “long for” or “crave.” It is an intensive verb, meaning this is a deep and intense yearning.

It is the same word used in the Greek translation of Ps. 42:1, “As the deer longs/yearns/pants for streams of water, so my soul longs for You O God.”

The psalmist uses the metaphor of a deer longing for water, but Peter uses the metaphor of a newborn baby desiring milk.

Like a newborn infant desires their mother’s milk, so we as believers should desire what Peter calls the pure or unadulterated spiritual milk.

The question is, what is meant by the pure spiritual milk we are to desire?

If you are reading from the KJV or NKJV, your translation suggests that the milk is the word of God, the Bible. It says to desire the “pure milk of the word.”

And this makes sense, it is a viable option for what Peter is talking about. At the end of chapter 1 Peter talked about how believers were born again through the living and enduring word of God and how the word of the Lord endures forever.

But the word that most translations bring across as “spiritual” is not the Greek word pneuma, the normal word for spirit. Instead it is the Greek word logikos, where we get the word “logic.” He is saying that this milk is pure and reasonable, rational, logical.

The idea is that if you are a Christian, it is logical and rational that this is the milk you want. It includes a desire for the word of God, but more than that it is just a total desire for God and all the things of God.

Infants need milk; believers need God. And yes, one of the main ways we encounter God today is through His word. That is why I chose this passage for today as we are talking about our education ministry.

The purpose of our education ministry is for believers to study the word of God together, and to grow together in our knowledge of God and our love for God.

And look, that’s exactly what Peter says at the end of v2. Why should we desire the word and the things of God? So that you may grow by it in your salvation.

I want you to understand this, and I think you already do. Salvation is a one-time event. When we place our faith in Christ Jesus and His death and resurrection, we are saved, we are forgiven, we are justified and seen as righteous in His eyes.

But salvation doesn’t end there. That’s not the finish line, that is the starting point. We have to grow. And one of the main ways we grow is by reading the word and studying the word.

Do you understand the difference between reading and studying? Both are important, and both are necessary. I believe you can read without studying, but you can’t study without reading.

I can sit down and read a paragraph, a chapter, or even a whole book and think, “Hmm…that was a good story” or “that was a good lesson.” Or I can study a paragraph, study a chapter, study a book. I can ask things like:

Who wrote this? Who was it written to?

Why did he use this word instead of that word? What do these words mean in their original language?

How does verse 1 relate to verse 2? How does chapter 2 relate to chapter 3? How does the book of Galatians relate to the book of James?

That is studying the Bible, that is going deeper. And you can and should do that by yourself, but it is also great to come together and do it corporately with other believers and other members of your local church.

In fact, it’s not only great, its necessary. As a believer, you need to study the word.

Here’s the thing about this milk metaphor. It is used two other places in the NT (1 Cor. 3 and Heb. 5-6), but here it is different.

In those other books, Paul and the author of Hebrews are scolding their readers for being immature and still needing milk instead of solid food. But that’s not what Peter is saying here. He’s not hinting at some sort of progression where you wean yourself from milk and move on to something else.

He is saying that just like what an infant needs is milk, so what a believer needs is God and His word.

To give you another analogy: dogs eat dog food; people eat people food; believers eat the word.

And I don’t know about you, but I eat every day. My infant son eats every day. My dogs eat every day. And we should be eating from the word every day.

You don’t just get a taste of God at some point in your life and then move on, that’s not how it works.

Look at v3. The verse begins with a condition: “If you have tasted…” Peter isn’t trying to cause doubt in his readers’s minds. What he is doing is causing them to think: Have I tasted, have I experienced that the Lord is good? And if the answer is yes, then don’t you want more???

God and His word are like the feast that never ends; the buffet that never runs out. And the experience of the Lord and His goodness and His kindness is so tasty that you should just keep going back for seconds and thirds and fourths…

I don’t know about you, but I like Panda Express. Sometimes they have a new type of meat, and they will give you a sample. If I get a little taste of it and it’s good, then guess what? Hey that’s what I want, give me lots of that!

It’s the same thing with God. If you’ve got that taste and you know how good it is, the question is: are you going back for more? Are you reading the word? Are you studying the word? Are you doing it daily? Are you doing it privately? Are you doing it corporately?

Like I said earlier, it’s great to study the word by yourself, but it is also helpful to come together with fellow believers and to study the word as a group.

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3 Replies to “Do You Desire the Word?”

  1. Using Panda Express for an illustration made me hunger for the word of God….. and Panda Express…. ha! ha!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.

  2. Amen, brother! That’s some good preaching! Hope your congregation embraces this message and has their appetite whetted to the point of obvious action to drink in more of the Word!

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