Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"They're full of new wine!" - Acts 2:12-16

In Acts 2:13, the crowd accused the disciples of being "full of new wine" on Pentecost when they were filled with the holy spirit and spoke in tongues. Some questions were raised on Sunday about:

1. Was this really fermented (intoxicating) wine (new wine?) that they were being accused of indulging in?
2. Why, as was pointed out, was this particular Greek word for wine used only in this verse and no where else in the new testament?

In summary, this use of "wine" is to be understood as intoxicating (perhaps very), and therefore they were, in fact, being accused of being drunk. As for question 2, this word could indicate that the wine could be quite intoxicating and/or from the juice that falls before pressing begins (which was sometimes saved separately) This is based on the following:

1. In context, it is clear that they were being accused of being drunk, since it wouldn't make sense to accuse them of being drunk from grape juice alone. [1]

2. There are 4 Greek words that translated into "wine" in the new testament. Oinos is the most common, being 32 of the 37 references to it. However, the word in our verse is pronounced glyoo-kos (Strong's #1098) and is only used in this one verse. It means "sweet wine" and "used of the more saccharine (and therefore highly inebriating) fermented wine." This may also indicate it is from the sweet juice that fell from the grapes before they were pressed. [2][3]

3. Although glyoo-kos could also mean "fresh juice", it is unlikely to be so at Pentecost because wine was usually pressed in September, and by this time (Pentecost), about 8 months would have elapsed. [3]

(Abbreviated refs)
[1] W.E. Vine, Vines Concise Dictionary of the Bible, (gleukos on p. 414), 2005 Thomas Nelson.
[2] James Strong, The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, P. 18 of Greek dictionary , 1996 Thomas Nelson.
[3]William Smith, "Wine" in Smith's Bible Dictionary, Thomas Nelson, 1997


  1. Let me try this again... Thanks for the info Jason, that is very interesting. It's amazing what "gets lost in the translation." This passage reminds me of a few others in Acts that bring up questions in my mind about how speaking in tongues relates to evidence of the Holy Spirit. But that's another discussion entirely...

    Chris L

  2. I still think that "glyoo-kos" having only to be referred to as this, at this one point in time in the Bible, is a very important. I do not believe that the disciples were drinking highly fermented wine and it does not say that - so that point is not to be argued.

    I just wonder WHY they would refer to the wine being new, sweet wine or highly intoxicating as you found in a place or two, ONLY in this passage. Why this passage and not other passages? Why not just refer to it as "oinos" then?
    Also, is newer, sweeter wine more intoxicating?

    You dont have to answer this because we have discussed it, but those were just MY questions.