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Matthew 9:17 New Wine in Old Bottles

Posted by hystar on August 31, 2009

KJV Matthew 9:17
17.  Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

The first step in properly interpreting any text is to understand the physical aspects.  Here we see Jesus telling a simple parable which involves putting new wine into old bottles which burst, losing the bottle and the wine.  The first question is, what is new wine?  Maybe this is referring to wine which has not been aged?  Or is there a spiritual meaning behind the term new wine which can only be explained using the word of God?

When new wine is put into new bottles both are preserved.  Because the text uses the word bottle we must stick with the word bottle.  It would be wrong to assume Jesus meant to say anything else.  As a precaution we will look up the definition of the Greek word used in the New Testament text.

Strong’s Ref. # 779  askos
from the same as GSN0778; a leathern (or skin) bag used as a bottle:

Using a Concordance we find the word bottle actually means a leather bag.  Often times we hear this referred to as a wineskin.

With additional facts we can look deeper into the physical meaning of the text.  When leather becomes wet and is allowed to dry, it may often develop cracks.  We see signs of this on our leather shoes.  A physically old leather bottle may have physical cracks, which may allow any liquid to pour out, rendering it useless.  Not only is the bottle ruined, but the wine put into the bottle is lost.

Examining the text, the key words can be identified.  The key words used in this study are, wine and bottle.  To find the spiritual meaning of these keys words, they must first be compared using other texts.  Only the word of God can reveal the spiritual meaning of a key word.


Drunk on Old Wine

Drunk on Old Wine

KJV Isaiah 28:7.  But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. 8.  For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.

KJV Jeremiah 23:9.  Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness.

KJV Micah 2:11.  If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

A study of this nature can become more of an investigation.  It may help to write out the question.  What is new wine? What does new wine represent?  Many texts deal with wine in a manner which leads people to error.  These errors center around prophecies, which come from the word of God.  This illustrates a connection between the word wine and the word of God.  As additional texts are studied, detailed information is gathered.  Often, surrounding texts must be studied to gain a clear perception of the context the spiritual word is describing.

KJV Jeremiah 23:1.  Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. 2.  Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. 3.  And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4.  And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord. 5.  Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6.  In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7.  Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8.  But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land. 9.  Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the Lord, and because of the words of his holiness.

When looking at the context of Jeremiah 23 it is clearly seen, the prophecy is about Jesus.  This easily supports the context of Matthew 9, where Jesus is answering the accusations of the Pharisees.  This may have been one of the texts Jesus was pointing the Pharisees to when He used the key word wine.

KJV Hosea 4: 1.  Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2.  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. 3.  Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. 4.  Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. 5.  Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. 6.  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 7.  As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. 8.  They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. 9.  And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. 10.  For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the Lord. 11.  Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

KJV Habakkuk 2: 1.  I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. 2.  And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. 3.  For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4.  Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. 5.  Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people: 6.  Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!

KJV Isaiah 29: 9.  Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10.  For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. 11.  And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: 12.  And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. 13.  Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: 14.  Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

The combination of Hosea 4, Habakkuk 2 and Isaiah 29 lead us to the fact wine represents words.  In this case wine is compared to strong drink, designed to interfere with the natural senses and judgment.  These words are also designed to lead people away from the knowledge of God.  This is referring to the intoxicating effect man’s words can have on people when they are mixed with the word of God.

If we look deeper into the physical aspects of wine we will gain a deeper understanding of the spiritual nature of the interpretation.  Wine is made of a number of ingredients.  The base, in this case grape juice.  To the base, sugar, yeast and a number of ingredients are added to induce fermentation.  During this process, sugars are converted into alcohol.

The original question of what new wine represents has not yet been answered.  Since we are looking for a spiritual interpretation we can not rely upon speculation.  “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater:  So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”  KJV Isaiah 55:10-11.

KJV Isaiah 55: 1.  Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2.  Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3.  Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Isaiah 55 is easily observed as a spiritual remark, buying wine and milk without money is a clear indication.  The text further explains what this means by stating it represents something we hear, a covenant.

Cluster of Grapes

Cluster of Grapes

KJV Isaiah 65: 8.  Thus saith the Lord, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.

Isaiah 65 contains a decisive spiritual meaning to the term new wine.  New wine is found in the cluster.  God could not have made it clearer.  The new wine, represented by the grape in the cluster, indicates it has not been changed or altered in any way, shape or form.  The new  wine, as described by the word of God, has not even been made into juice, as we would assume from the parable, where we are told it is put into bottles.  God is establishing the fact, new wine is not altered.

Because wine spiritual represents words, new wine represents God’s unaltered word.

New wine = God’s pure word.

Old wine and strong drink represent altering God’s word.


KJV Psalms 119:83.  For I am become like a bottle in the smoke; yet do I not forget thy statutes.

KJV Jeremiah 19:10.  Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee, 11.  And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.

KJV Psalms 2: 9.  Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

KJV Psalms 31:12.  I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

KJV Jeremiah 25:34.  Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel.

A study of the word bottle brings to light a common rule used to interpret the Bible.  Psalms 119 and Jeremiah 19 clearly establish the fact, a bottle can represent people.  Jeremiah 19 goes on to establish a link often found within the word of God.  Jeremiah 19 goes a step further, comparing a bottle to a vessel.  This creates a direct link between a bottle and a vessel.  Looking at texts containing the word vessel we find, it also represents a people.

Bottle or a vessel = people.

After the spiritual interpretations for the key words has been gathered, the text can be written, substituting the spiritual meaning for the key words.

KJV Matthew 9:17.  Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

Neither do men put (new wine) the pure word of God into (old bottles) people: or else the (bottles) people break and the (wine) pure word of God runs out, and the (bottles) people perish.  But they put (new wine) the pure word of God into (new bottles) people and both are preserved.

Looking back on the study, the definition of old bottles may be further understood by referring to the warnings given to the wine and strong drink.  If the old bottles have already been used for fermented wine, the alcohol may have put them in a weakened condition.   If the people, represeted by the old bottles, have been exposed to spiritual alcohol or mixing the word of God, they are in a weakened state.  Like the old bottles, they are easily broken and will not hold the new wine, or the pure word of God.

This parable is recorded in a number of gospels.  The book of Luke adds a new detail.

Stone Bottle

Stone Bottle

KJV Luke 5: 37.  And no man putteth new wine into old bottles; else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled, and the bottles shall perish. 38.  But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. 39.  No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, the old is better.

This helps explain the meaning of the old bottles. When a man develops a habit of adding to the word of God, they will grow to prefer their wisdom over the wisdom of God.  They will have a difficult time accepting a study based only upon the Bible.


12 Responses to “Matthew 9:17 New Wine in Old Bottles”

  1. adventbiblestudy said

    It is interesting to note, the Bible mentions bottles of wine in one other place.

    KJV John 2:6-9
    6. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
    7. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.
    8. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
    9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

    What do you think? Jesus made new wine in stone water pots. Is he implying the fact, no matter what the containers are made of, His word will break them?

  2. Ellen Ruffin said

    Thank you very much for this explaination of the wine. This is the best interpretation that I have found yet. I was trying to get a spiritual understanding about the new wine in old wine bottles. It is good to see that I was not far off, but you just brought more insight into this entire scripture. May God bless you.


  3. Elana Mellowes said

    Thank you so much for this thorough breakdown of the natural into the spiritual. I have longed for an understanding of these metaphors of “new wine” and “old wineskin”, and you have done it. Thank you. Elana Mellowes

  4. Dezrene Robinson said

    Thank you so much, I was serching for a word for the new year message and it is amazing how God answered me,to the question “what are you taking over into the new year.

    may God bless you richly, happy new year 2012

    Pastor Dezrene Robinson

  5. Minister Elthea Hodgson said

    This is such an awesome explanination, we have bee struggling with this discussion at our Church for approximately 2 weeks. This is the best that I have read. Thanks for the Spiritual insight. May God bless you and you continue to sek His face.
    Min E. Hodgson (Ontario Canada)

  6. ROy Robertson said

    Could the new wine in the old flask possibly mean the covant of the old and covant of the new testament that we are now under because of the cross.

  7. Neither do men put new wine in old bottles…. For me, new wine refers to the the new truth a believer knows as he receives the Lord Jesus Christ into his heart…. that he is already a new creature in Him…. that nothing and absolutely nothing shall ever can hurt him….all the positive truths he is feasting from the word of God in other words, he is now a new thinker of spirtitual things . This is the new wine, fresh wine for the Lord’s vineyard… And the bottles refer to the mind of the believer where these new thoughts would be installed…This is the new bottle… What will be of use for the believer if his thoughtlife is still old (not fresh wine) and his mind is ready to get installed with fresh wine (positive truths from God’s words) if he still lingers in the old negative thoughtlife. Both will burst

  8. Ny said

    I Thank You for the clarity of new wine as the pure word of God and the vessels are we the people. It is very imperative to accept God’s word as the pure unaltered truth (new wine) into new vessel (spirit being) I am grateful for new revelation and confirmation my study was Matthew 9 and Proverbs 3 today. May God Bless you and restore the virtue as you are being a blessing too many..

  9. Jerry said

    The new wine is the spirit of truth(mystery of godliness), the old wine is the spirit of error(mystery of iniquity). God is the one that sends the strong delusion(2 Thess 2:10-12). Does not God create evil? Isa 45:7…..He sends the furbished sword(spirit of error, antichrist bibles/mark of the beast) as a trial on his people to test them. Ezek 21:12

    • adventbiblestudy said

      Each of those texts must be studied for context. Jesus never taught a lesson with a single sentence. He taught His disciples with lessons consisting of a series of events in most cases included a series of parables. Why would anyone try to out perform Jesus by attempting to explain a subject with bits and pieces of a story? Trying to condense God’s way of explaining things is trying to condense God and His message.

  10. jenkins said

    The new wineskin represent resurrected bodies and new wine represent the new covenant fulfilment. Wine is symbolic of the covenant.Luke 22:20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. It is parallel with the new garment 1 Cor 15:53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

    1Cor 15:50

    I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

    John 3:3

    Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

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