Our role as disciple-makers is similar to that of a parent, as every Christian is in a growth process as well, beginning with spiritual birth at salvation and then continuing on our entire lives. We see terms scripturally that illustrate this truth. Peter tells us to “grow up” in our salvation and to long for the pure milk of the Scriptures that will help us grow (1 Peter 2:2). He reprimanded the members of the church of Corinth for not growing spiritually (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).
1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, 3 because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like unbelievers?
Hebrews 5:12 Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food.
1 John 2:12-14 I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven because of Jesus’ name. 13 I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have had victory over the evil one. 14 I have written to you, children, because you have come to know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you have come to know the One who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, God’s word remains in you, and you have had victory over the evil one.
The writer of Hebrews reminds readers that they were still infants in Christ but ought to have matured into believers who were teaching others (Hebrews 5:12). In 1 John 2:12-14, John writes to children, young men, and fathers. I do not think he was writing to an all-boys’ school or to a men’s colony. He was speaking to the differing stages of spiritual growth and exhorting these believers to live in the faith.