A Question I Was Asked:



What is the Meaning of Jesus' Parable of the New Wine in Old Wineskins in Matthew and Luke?








What is the meaning of Jesus' Parable of the new wine in old wineskins in Matthew and Luke?



UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us look at this. This is found in Matthew 9:16-17, and also in Mark 2:21-22 and Luke 5:33-39.

16. "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (Matthew 9: 14-17).

To get the full meaning here one needs to look at the bigger context of these passages. If one checks out the earlier parts of chapter 9, Jesus was receiving accusations and persecution from the "teachers of the law" (verse 3). In verses 1-3 Jesus had healed a paralyzed man, whereupon these people accused Him thus:

At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" (verse 3).

The problem here was that these 'teachers' had heard Jesus saying to this man, 'your sins are forgiven you' (verse 2). At that time these people did not comprehend that Jesus was God in human flesh so, to them, this sounded blasphemous.

So the context here is persecution from the religious authorities of Jesus' day.

This led to Jesus' comment, 'No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.'


Explanation:

Jesus and the New Covenant which He delivered represented the 'new wine,' the religious authorites were representing a covenant, the old covenant, which was about to be swept away; it would not be fitting to put the precious new wine which Jesus was now bringing into worn old 'wineskins,' this was stating pretty clearly that the Jewish religious authorities had had their day. They had indeed sat in Moses' seat, (Matthew 23:2), but no longer, Jesus was bringing in the New Covenant, the old order was bring replaced by a new group of people. There is no question about it: Jesus was accusing these people of failing in their old covenant duties, now the New Covenant, prophesied by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34), had arrived. Look at this:

16. Jesus replied: "A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is now ready.' 18. "But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, 'I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.' 19. "Another said, 'I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I'm on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.' 20. "Still another said, 'I just got married, so I can't come.' 21. "The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.' 22. "'Sir,' the servant said, 'what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.' 23. "Then the master told his servant, 'Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.'" (Luke 14: 16-24).

So the teaching and responsibilities of the New Covenant would not be handed to the 'old wineskins' of old covenant Israel but would be placed in the 'new wineskins' of the Church of Jesus Christ! How much plainer could this be?

"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed." (Matthew 21:43-44).

So the task of the dissemination of the Gospel would be given to the Gentiles who would become it's main supporters and spreaders. So it is very clear that physical Israel - as a nation - has no further part to play in God's plan.

This is why Paul was able to state,

28. A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person's praise is not from other people, but from God. (Romans 2:28-29).

In Romans 11 Paul the Apostle writes about the hardening of Jews and Israelitish peoples at the present time in favour of the Gentiles. He also explains how Gentile believers are now being grafted into Israel (which is why the 144,000 - clearly the saved of the Earth - are accounted as Israel in Revelation 7 and 14), yet he gives an assurance that individual physical Jews and Israelitish peoples are not totally cut off, they too will apparently eventually respond to Christ in numbers. However, they must accept Christ on His own terms, no special privileges being allowed because of nationality. See Romans 11, in its entirety.

Robin A. Brace. January 16th, 2018.

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