For Bible Study Nerds

“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins…” (Matthew 9:17).

When Jesus made this comparison statement, it was more than just an explanatory reference of common daily wisdom. In this little allegory, “new wine” represented Jesus himself, causing a conflation of Jewish history and messianic expectations that would’ve been both understandable and excitingly new to his hearers.

In an Old Testament context, new wine is an “image of sustenance and life… [and] due to its close relationship to the ongoing life of the community, wine becomes, in association with grain and oil, a technical term for the covenant blessings promised by God to Israel.” (For reference, see Isaac’s blessing over Jacob in Genesis 27:28, as well as the covenant blessings and curses mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:39, 51, Joel 1:10, and Hosea 2:21-22, 9:2.)

In other words, by identifying himself symbolically as the “new wine,” Jesus was telling his hearers that he was not only bringing a new covenant for God’s people, he was also fulfilling God’s historical, unbreakable covenant promises of the past. From this moment forward, Jesus himself would be their “sustenance and life,” and the complete embodiment of all God’s promises and blessings intended for Israel.

Heady stuff—and an image that was not likely lost on those who heard Jesus speak of “new wine” this day.


Works Cited:

[DBI, 953]



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About: Mike Nappa

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