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What the Bible says about Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 9:14-15

The bridegroom's friends would not think of fasting while he was with them. For them, it was a time of festivity and rejoicing—mourning was not appropriate. When the bridegroom left them, their festivities would end, and the proper time for fasting and sorrow would begin.

While Christ, the Bridegroom, was with His disciples, it was a time for joy. Expressing grief by fasting would have been inappropriate at that time. In addition, since Jesus was with them, they had no need to draw closer to Him through fasting. After Christ died, the disciples fasted when appropriate.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins

Matthew 9:16

Jesus' illustration derives from a well-known fact: No one with a reasonable amount of experience in mending clothes would waste a piece of new cloth to repair an old garment. If new cloth is used to patch an old garment, and the patch becomes wet, it shrinks as it dries and puts strain on the old garment. The tear becomes worse than it was.

Jesus is showing that His "new" doctrines do not match the old rites of the Pharisees, which required a lot of fasting. If His "new" doctrines were attached to their old ones, it would distort the truth. Christ is preaching against syncretism, the mixing of beliefs. We must completely replace the old human way of life with the new godly way of life (II Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9-10). Because God's "new" way is righteous and spiritually strong, it cannot be combined with the "old" wicked and weak human way of life. They are incompatible.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins

Matthew 9:16

"No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old" (Luke 5:36). Mark's version of the same parable stresses that the "tear is made worse" when the new patch eventually "pulls away from the old" garment (Mark 2:21). Christ's message is clear: When it comes to doffing the old man and donning the new one, we cannot "mix and match." Successfully mixing them—combining them—is as impossible as serving two masters. We just cannot do it (Matthew 6:24)! The two men represent intrinsically and irreversibly opposing ways of life.

Charles Whitaker
Choosing the New Man (Part Three)

Matthew 9:17

In those times, "bottles" were made of animal skins—sheep, goat, or ox—and, after being properly prepared, filled with wine or water. These skins came in various sizes—an ox-skin held as much as 60 gallons. Horses and camels could carry glass or ceramic bottles or wooden kegs only with difficulty, but two skins tied together and laid across a beast's back could be carried a long distance. After a time, an animal skin became brittle and ruptured easily. New wine put into an old skin would ferment, expand, and burst them open. New skins, however, were strong enough to stretch without bursting.

Christ's illustration suggests that there is a wise and proper way to do things. It was not fitting to mix His doctrines with the old and corrupt doctrines of the Pharisees. To take God's truth and try to press it into some other form would change it into a lie, making the truth of God useless.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Cloth and Wineskins

Luke 5:36-39

While these examples are valuable in their own right, they do not stand on their own. If we were to begin here, it would be like coming in on the last part of a conversation; without understanding what led up to this, our comprehension will be spotty at best. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all put this parable at the end of a fairly lengthy, yet identical, record of Christ's actions and the Pharisees' objections (Matthew 9:1-17; Mark 2:1-22; Luke 5:17-39). His words here, then, are the summation and capstone of a much longer interaction.

David C. Grabbe
Clothing, Wineskins, and Wine


 




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