You Have Become Dull of Hearing

Text: Hebrews 5:11-6:3

The Hebrew writer paused a discussion of the parallels between the priesthoods of Melchizedek and Jesus because it was “hard to explain” (though certainly not impossible). The problem was not that the facts were difficult. The problem was that the people were “dull of hearing.” This problem affected more than just their understanding of Jesus’ priesthood – it had the potential of costing them their souls. We need to understand what it means to be “dull of hearing,” what the result is, and how to fix it.

What it Means to Be Dull of Hearing

  • Does not mean they were unintelligent and incapable of understanding – they were able to understand this difficult subject; we know this because the Hebrew writer returned to it just two chapters later
  • Does not mean they had abandoned their faith – they were Christians (Hebrews 6:9-10) and holy brethren (Hebrews 3:1); of course, there was a danger that an unbelieving heart could develop in them (Hebrews 3:12); they had not yet reached that point of unfaithfulness, but they certainly needed to correct this problem (Hebrews 6:11-12)
  • Does not mean they were new Christians who simply had not learned the word well enough yet – new Christians need the milk of the word (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:13-14); this is perfectly normal; but enough time had passed for them to have matured (Hebrews 5:12)
  • Being dull of hearing indicates laziness (sluggish, indolent – Thayer) – not necessarily in every area of life; this is laziness about learning the word of God; studying the Bible requires diligence (2 Timothy 2:15)

The Result of Being in This Condition

  • Cannot discuss difficult Bible topics (Hebrews 5:11) – the gospel is simple enough that one can learn and obey it the same hour of the night (Acts 16:31-34); however, some things are harder to understand (2 Peter 3:16); diligence is necessary to accurately handle the word (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Need to have the elementary principles taught again (Hebrews 5:12) – these doctrines are obviously necessary; but we need to make spiritual progress (1 Timothy 4:13, 15)
  • Incapable of teaching others (Hebrews 5:12) – everyone needs to be developing the ability to teach; the church’s future depends on it (2 Timothy 2:2); a local church cannot function without teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12)
  • Will remain in a state of spiritual infancy (Hebrews 5:13) – this is natural and normal at first (1 Peter 2:2); but staying in that state is a sign of spiritual sickness; spiritual health means walking in the truth (3 John 2-3)
  • Ultimately, our hope of salvation is in jeopardy (Hebrews 6:11-12) – diligence is needed to realize our hope; contrast with those who are sluggish, which is the same Greek word as dull (Hebrews 5:12)

How to Fix the Problem

  • Recognize the problem – we cannot fix a problem if we do not know it exists; requires self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5)
  • Quit partaking only of milk (Hebrews 5:13) – only is key; we still need reminders (2 Peter 1:12-13; 1 Timothy 4:6)
  • Make a habit of studying the Bible (Hebrews 5:14) – the word practice means a habit (Thayer); we already noticed that diligence is necessary (2 Timothy 2:15); we must also invest time (Ephesians 5:16-17)
  • Press on to maturity (Hebrews 6:1) – recognize that we are expected to grow (2 Peter 3:18; 1 Timothy 4:13, 15); we must develop the ability to teach and to study through and understand difficult passages
  • Build upon the foundation of the elementary principles (Hebrews 6:1) – do not abandon the foundation; build upon it by adding to your faith (2 Peter 1:5-8) and perfecting faith through works (James 2:22)


  • We cannot afford to be lazy with the Bible – we need to be diligent with it as with everything else
  • Bible study can be challenging – but we need to apply ourselves to it so we can please the Lord

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