Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

My question: "Is Peter giving a command/imperative in the Greek text in 2:2 for reading God's Word? Or is Peter giving a recommendation? We hear Pastors and Teachers saying that God commands us to read and study His Word, so is this the text to justify that view??

2 Answers 2


ἐπιποθήσατε - aorist active imperative second person plural of ἐπιποθέω - to long for, to desire

The question implies asking about the grammar. Regardless of how you interpret it, the grammar has an imperative.

To qualify this answer, rather than Peter saying to read the Scriptures, he wrote to have the right motive for reading the Scriptures; motivation not only to read but also to follow what the Scriptures say; a motivation that nurtures spiritual growth.

  • Excellent, thank you!
    – Cork88
    Jan 12, 2022 at 23:09

No, Peter is giving an analogy to newborn babes.

They can't help but seek out the milk they desperately need. So it should be for those newborn into Christ. The entire NT is filled with examples of how we are to live out this new life that has begun with God's spirit inviting a new way of thinking, doing, relating, behaving, believing, trusting etc.

laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking

are the fruits expected of this new person's life and activity.

The milk is for a baby to grow! The word is for believers the main tool we have to grow in the knowledge of God and His son.

And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Eph 4:11-

What are they teaching? They are teaching the word to all those in Christ - so, they may be equipped for growth and maturity.

There is little point in commanding us to do this. God's spirit draws us into God and His way of doing things. Just as Jesus submitted his will to God, we are to also by the power of spirit in us to do good, to read, to study - because we want to - just as a newborn babe wants to seek out the milk.

  • I’d say that’s a solid answer, but what is the Greek word in “desire” is what I should have mentioned… was it aorist, imperative, etc. pardon me if I didn’t mention that more clearly. Thx for the answer tho.
    – Cork88
    Jan 12, 2022 at 21:25
  • Very well-written answer. Good job! +1
    – Rajesh
    Jan 12, 2022 at 21:32
  • @Cork88 thx, it's largely irrelevant what desire means because it is framed by the 'newborn babes'. That helps to grasp what the intent is and no fancy interpretation is required. If 'newborn babes' wasn't there it would be a different matter.
    – Steve
    Jan 12, 2022 at 21:32
  • 2
    Granted it is because they are made that way but newborn babes actively seek milk to the best of their ability. The text says, in an imperative sense, to desire the pure milk of the word as newborn babes. If we are to be solely drawn into it it would have been written in a passive sense. We have a responsibility to fan it into flame that which we have received. Jan 13, 2022 at 1:46
  • 1
    Identifying an analogy doesn't make an imperative not an imperative. The point of the analogy is to help his audience understand the manner and importance of the imperative.
    – Austin
    Sep 9, 2022 at 1:33

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