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What the Bible says about New Wine
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 9:14-17

The new wine represents the inner aspects of a Christian life, and the new cloth pictures outward conduct and conversation. A person's behavior reflects his commitment, seen in the illustration of attaching new cloth to old clothing. The old clothing—our sinful, selfish life—cannot be mended but must be replaced. The new cloth is a righteous life. The Pharisees' ritual fasting was an old garment for which a new piece of cloth was useless.

It is untenable to attach Christ's doctrine to the old corrupt doctrines of this world's religions. The righteous system Christ came to establish cannot be forced into an old system. To attempt to force His teachings into the ways of Judaism, Protestantism, Catholicism, or any other of this world's religions causes confusion. Christ is warning against syncretism of beliefs; it simply does not work (Matthew 24:4-5, 24; Romans 6:5-6; 16:17-18; Galatians 1:6-10; Ephesians 4:14; 5:6-11; I Timothy 6:3-5; Hebrews 13:9).

Our Savior teaches that life cannot be a mixture of two opposite principles. We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We cannot trust in our own works for salvation in Christ, nor follow the world and God. His new way must completely replace our old worldly ways so that we walk in newness of life.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins

Luke 5:37-38

The Bible uses wine in a wide variety of ways. It can represent a drug or a blessing. It can be a symbol of debauchery or of abundance. Wine was part of the drink offering, symbolizing being poured out in service. It was part of Melchizedek's blessing on Abraham, and 2,000 years later, Jesus uses it in the Passover as the blood of the New Covenant. Psalm 75 shows a cup of wine of God's wrath, and Revelation 18 depicts a cup in the hand of Mystery Babylon, representing its intoxicating culture and the spirit of the times.

Obviously, not all of those meanings are in view here, but when we link the new wine with Jesus being "taken away" (verse 35), it coincides with the Passover cup, representing Christ's blood and the New Covenant. When we add the fact that the Holy Spirit could not be given until Jesus had gone away, then the new wine entails more than just forgiveness, but also suggests God's Spirit—His love, power, and sound-mindedness (II Timothy 1:7).

In the example, the new wine is expansive. The fermentation process produces a great deal of pressure. An old and brittle wineskin will not be able to withstand the increasing stress, and it will burst.

The wineskin is a type of vessel. Throughout Scripture, vessels are symbols for people. For Christians, there is an “old man” and a “new man.” The old man represents the life we had before conversion, and the new man, the new vessel, is the life that comes because of conversion. But if we take the expansive and dynamic new wine, and we attempt to put that into the old life, we can be sure that we will have a disaster on our hands.

Our old lives, our old ways, are entirely incompatible with the new wine. The new wine requires change, expansion, and steady improvement, while in the old life, there was no real desire or ability to change. Remember, the new wine is tied to the blood of Passover, the New Covenant, the receipt of God's Spirit, and the spiritual result that will be produced by those powerful factors. Trying to cram all that into a person who is unwilling to change will invariably result in his coming apart at the seams. The precious new wine is spilled on the ground and dreadfully wasted.

David C. Grabbe
Clothing, Wineskins, and Wine

Luke 5:39

On the physical level, a finely aged wine is obviously preferable to a new wine. One year at the Feast of Tabernacles, I had the rare opportunity to sample a Bordeaux bottled in the late 1970s or early 80s. Suffice it to say that the wine's depth and complexity of flavors would put to profound shame anything bottled recently.

Curiously, though, in this parable, the new wine is the one that is to be preferred! This may seem incongruous at first, until we remember what these things represent. The new wine of Christ's sacrifice, of the New Covenant, and of God's Spirit being poured out on us is infinitely more valuable than anything before conversion. Whether the old wine represents physical abundance or the headiness of what Babylon entices us with constantly, nothing can be compared to the new wine—if we have God's Spirit.

However, because we are still human, and the old man still remains in us to some degree, at times the old wine seems better. The old wine seems more gratifying to the senses. Before conversion, we certainly had no interest in this new wine because the old wine suited us just fine, even if it was making us miserable. Even after conversion, we sometimes reach for the old wine.

When we are under that influence, we do not find the new wine appealing because we are hooked on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:16). It requires spiritual sobriety to recognize the true blessing of the new wine, but we cannot do that easily—if at all—when the old wine is on our palate. It is only in abstaining from the old wine that we can truly appreciate the uniqueness and superiority of the new.

David C. Grabbe
Clothing, Wineskins, and Wine


 




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