Heb 5:14. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Where in the book of Hebrews should this principle be used, or a false interpretation of the scripture may be drawn?

  • The simple principle that is being used by God throughout the entire Bible seems to be; parable - milk, before interpretation - meat. Commented Feb 22 at 22:32
  • @Constantthin Agreed, and well said. I would appreciate your reading and assessment of my answer and the implication thereof.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 22 at 23:01
  • The best "exercise" starts by grasping a heavy Bible with both hands. Then lift it up, opening it up and start reading. Pray for wisdom and understanding in applying life's lessons. It won't take long to develop strong "bible biceps." ;-)
    – Dieter
    Commented Feb 23 at 0:00
  • I'd encourage you to have a read of this meta post if you haven't encountered it before. Asking questions that you already have a very specific answer to is a bit disingenuous and not great practice. It's great that you've given positive feedback to other respondents, but it feels like you had "the right" answer in mind when you wrote this and you're marking all others according to your own preconceived conclusion.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Feb 24 at 14:05

6 Answers 6


Discernment (distinguishing good from evil v14 or identifying what is Godly and what is not) is something a follower of Christ should do everywhere, all the time. This is not just to be used everywhere in the book of Hebrews but in the whole of scripture and in all of life.

The writer of Hebrews is explaining a spiritual truth in 5:1-10 concerning the fact that Jesus is a high priest designated by God v10.
Then the writer stops and says:

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

The point is that the readers have much to learn but have stopped listening - become dull of hearing - and now need to re-learn basic things they should have already learned.

"unskilled" = apeiros, Strongs G552 inexperienced

"word of righteousness" v13
logos dikaiosynē, Strongs G1343
It's not specific to scripture but includes any word of righteousness.

The "constant practice" refers to practicing differentiating what is good from evil not just in Hebrews or in scripture but in all of life.

We know that "only God is good" Mark 10:18 so distinguishing good from evil is knowing what is Godly and what is not.
Constantly seeking what is Godly and what is not would be the constant practice in the passage that makes a follower of Christ skilled or experienced in discernment.

How do we know what is Godly from what is not?
The Holy Spirit
John 16

12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

Trustworthy sources and Scripture
2 Timothy 3

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

  • @Davis D Upvoted everyone on this. Makes for a hard choice on who get's the favorite check. All answers had merit. Thank you for your contribution.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 24 at 5:15

It really should be applied throughout the entire book of Hebrews, and the Bible.

Hebrews 5:14 NKJV

14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

A good acronym to apply is S.E.E.D. - Study, Examine, Evaluate, Discern

S - Study: Regularly engage in studying the Word of God. Seek to understand and apply its teachings. Psalm 119:105 NKJV

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

E - Examine: Take the time to carefully examine your beliefs and align them with God's Word. Examine areas where growth and change are needed. 2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV

5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

E - Evaluate: Evaluate your thoughts, choices, and behavior to ensure they align with God's truth and honor Him. The goal is to live in obedience to His will. Romans 12:2 NKJV

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

D - Discern: Develop the ability to discern between good and evil, truth and falsehood, by relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom found in Scripture. We can cultivate spiritual discernment through prayer and seeking God in all things. Hebrews 5:14 NKJV

14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

  • @ Jason Thank you for your contribution. If you get a chance, take a look at my answer. I think it will answer the mystery of what text was in question of proper discernment, although just my opinion of the interpretation. Feel free to give a reply comment on the passage of interest. I would like to know if I was too vague.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 23 at 1:39

The KJV is slightly misleading in Heb 5:14. Here are two modern versions that help:

BLB: But solid food is for the mature, the ones by constant use having trained the senses for distinguishing both good and evil.

ESV: But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

The teaching here is simple - "practice makes perfect". That is, to better distinguish good and evil takes constant practice.

I would also add that regular Bible study and prayer would also be extremely effective in developing such experience. Perhaps I might add one more as taught in the following verses:

  • Col 3:1-3 - Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
  • Heb 12:2, 3 - Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
  • The KJV makes these notes respecting the Greek words in 5:14 - age - or perfect. use - or an habit, or perfection.
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 22 at 12:14

As a former organic chemist I have learned to take the result of each experiment seriously. In Biblical terms: take each verse (passage) seriously. (1) Go from the clear text to the unclear text and not vice versa.

(2) Never treat a verse or passage by saying, "That doesn't fit in my theology." Rather, your theology has to fit in the frame of God's Word.

(3) Use commentaries, dictionaries and search on the internet for further clarification.

(4)Read the whole Bible over and over again and, (5) pray for wisdom with a humble heart.

God bless you.

  • 1
    @ Verbeek777 I took the liberty to edit to make your contribution more readable. The points you advanced are super important. And worthy of consideration by Bible students. Keep studying the Bible; it's great for the soul!
    – ray grant
    Commented Feb 22 at 21:41
  • @ Verbeek777 - See editing. Also, it is best to add scripture verses as references to back up your important points. You're on the right track.
    – ray grant
    Commented Feb 22 at 21:44
  • @Verbeek777 Welcome to BH. Thank you for contributing. Hope you find this site a growing experience.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 22 at 22:26

What exercise makes one skilful in the Word of God?

My answer may be one of the many. Itis found in Timothy 2:15.

2 Timothy 2:15 YLT

be diligent to present thyself approved to God -- a workman irreproachable, rightly dividing the word of the truth;

If one studies with the goal of having God's approval, one will soon learn to discern truth from lies, deception equivocation.

Pray for wisdom. Buy wisdom and don't sell it.

  • 1
    Truth simply spoken...as instructed! You have my vote. Commented Feb 21 at 16:08

This seems to be a most unique example in scripture. Ch.5:9-14 differentiates between an immature understanding (milk) verses a mature (strong meat;full age) interpretation. First we bare in mind that there was no chapter and verse designation in the original text. Next we observe the " Therefore" conjunctive connecting chapter 5 to chapter 6. The author of Hebrews now proposes leaving the doctrine of Christ if God will permit. Further, the author proposes that it is impossible to renew a fallen person that taste of heavenly things of the Holy Ghost and then falls away. Finally the author records he is persuaded of better things that accompany salvation. ___________Given this whole account which many use to argue against "once saved always saved" a person has to consider that the author of Hebrews was indeed giving future readers an exercise to discern both good and evil. Consider: Why would an author of the Gospel of Jesus Christ have to receive special permission (vs3 if God will permit) if what he was writting was already part of the new covenant great commission. 'A test of discernment!'

  • "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection." For the astute reader one should immediately realize you can't go on to perfection, by leaving the doctrine or fundamentals of Christ. The writer of Hebrews was obviously making a point by using reverse logic. He wanted the Jewish readers to realize if they left the New Covenant, they would be doomed back to the Old Covenant sacrificial system. Jesus would have to be recrucified every time they sinned, according to such ridiculous logic. No No. That goes against the eternal nature of Jesus' sacrifice.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 24 at 5:41
  • Continued - This may be one of the greatest pearls of great price that I can convey to all that will receive it. The difference between the blood of (bulls and goats) and the blood of the perfect Jesus is like comparing mortal to immortal. The infinite nature of Jesus' sacrifice is beyond words.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 24 at 5:55
  • (-1) It's perfectly acceptable on SE to write a Question and then provide your own Answer, but writing a lower quality answer than those already present and then Accepting it is a bit presumptuous. This answer seems rather rushed and unclear - what exactly are you saying is the answer to your question?
    – Steve can help
    Commented Feb 24 at 14:03
  • @ Steve can help There is NOTHING presumptuous about it. Read all that is there. Your downvote and criticism is not appreciated. Just because you are guilty of a rushed conclusion and presumption that I did not do something does not make it so. Read everything carefully and do not think everything in the commentaries is always 'perfect'.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 24 at 15:24
  • Perhaps it's just because the Question and its Title ask different things? Maybe you have an idea in your mind of what you think you're asking, and just haven't captured it the same on paper. Either way this Answer could use some TLC to be as readable as the others.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Feb 24 at 17:10

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