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PENTECOST (Acts 2:13-15)

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost resulted in the gift of tongues, with the believers speaking “with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Mockingly some observers claimed that the speakers were “full of new wine (gleukos)” and, therefore, drunk (v. 13); for to be “full of new wine” was to be drunk. That which was the result of the Spirit of God, the mockers said was the result of too much drink. Inebriation caused the tongues, they claimed.

Peter, as he began his message, pointed out to them that it was only the third hour of the day, 9 a.m., and, consequently, too soon in the day for the believers to be drunk; in fact it was even too early for them to be drinking wine. It was common for Jews to fast until 10:00 a.m. on a feast day; so, it was extremely unlikely that their conduct could be caused by their drinking. Peter explains that it was simply too early for them to be imbibing.

Implied in his answer is the fact that wine was a beverage they enjoyed; rather than denying that they drank wine, he indirectly affirmed that they did drink wine. If they had been abstainers from wine, Peter would have simply said so, rather than using the time of day to refute the assertions of the mockers. The mockers knew that the disciples drank wine and, therefore, made the accusation.

Besides the time factor, which refuted the mockers, it was true that drunkenness was much more common and acceptable to the Greeks than to the Jews, who viewed it as sinful and unacceptable. Greeks would be more apt to be drunk earlier in the day than the Jews. Drunkenness was a problem to the Jews but not near the problem it was in the Gentile world. So, Peter affirmed that drunkenness was not an acceptable explanation for the “gift of tongues.”

Gleukos appears only here in the Greek New Testament and is translated “new wine” in the AV, NKJV, and ESV. It is questionable whether this could be “new wine” since Pentecost is in the spring and the “new wine” is produced in September. By Pentecost the wine would probably no longer be considered “new wine.” But it could be new in the sense of the first wine like tirosh in the Old Testament (see: Isaac and Jacob).

Perhaps the wine referred to is the wine from the first juice of the grapes and could more correctly be translated “sweet wine” as is suggested in a text footnote in the NIV. If “sweet wine” is the correct concept then it would be comparable to the asis for the Old Testament, where asis is translated “sweet wine” in Isa. 49:26 and Amos 9:13, and “new wine” in Joel 1:5 and 3:18 (see: Preaching of the Prophets). Whether “sweet” or “new,” it was still fermented.

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