|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:27-39 It was a wonder of Christ's grace, that he would call a publican to be his disciple and follower. It was a wonder of his grace, that the call was made so effectual. It was a wonder of his grace, that he came to call sinners to repentance, and to assure them of pardon. It was a wonder of his grace, that he so patiently bore the contradiction of sinners against himself and his disciples. It was a wonder of his grace, that he fixed the services of his disciples according to their strength and standing. The Lord trains up his people gradually for the trials allotted them; we should copy his example in dealing with the weak in faith, or the tempted believer.
Verses 37, 38. - 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. But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. In these two verses the Greek words rendered "bottles" properly signify "wine-skins." These leathern bottles throughout Syria and Palestine are generally made of goat-skins. They are still of universal use; the simile of the "old bottles" refers to "wine-skins" old and frail, which had been long in use, and hence nearly worn out; such "skins," after long usage, are in the habit of getting seamed and cracked. (Farrar, in an elaborate ex-cursus, urges that must, and not wine in the ordinary sense, i.e. the fermented juice of the grape, is signified in the parable here, grape-juice in the form of unfermented must being much used as a favourite drink in the East. This suggestion, although ingenious and interesting, does not seem necessary to explain the imagery used; it seems more natural to understand wine in its ordinary meaning.) The "new wine" here represents the teaching of Jesus in all its freshness, originality, and power, and the "wine-skins" the men who are to receive from the Master the great principle of his doctrine. Now, the recognized teachers in Israel, termed scribes and rabbis, or doctors of the Law, were wedded to the old interpretation of the Law - were hampered by traditions, sayings of the Fathers, elaborate ritual observances, prejudices, narrowness, bigotry. The vast collection of the Talmud, where wise words on the same page are crowded out with childish sayings, well represents the teaching of these scribes and rabbis. Never would Jesus entrust to these narrow and prejudiced representatives of a worn-out religious school his new, fresh, generous doctrines. It would indeed be pouring new wine into old, decayed, worn-out wine-vessels. The new wine must be deposited in new wine-skins. His doctrine must be entrusted to no rabbi of Israel, fettered by a thousand precedents, hampered by countless prejudices, but to simple unprejudiced men, who would just receive his teaching, and then pass it on pure and unadulterated to other simple, truthful souls - men earnest, loyal, devoted, like his fisher-friends of Gennesaret, or his publican-follower of Capernaum. He needs, as Godet well phrases it - changing, though, the imagery of Jesus - "fresh natures, new men... fair tablets on which his hand may write the characters of Divine truth, without coming across the old traces of a false human wisdom. 'God, I thank thee because thou hast hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes'"
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And no man putteth new wine into old bottles,.... To which the Scribes and Pharisees are here compared, into whose hearts the new wine of Gospel grace was not put; or to whom was not made known the love of God Comparable to new wine; nor the blessings of the new covenant of grace, now exhibited; nor the truths of the Gospel now more clearly and newly revealed.
Else the new wine will burst the bottles, and be spilled; they not being able to receive and bear these things, no, not the relation of them: these were hard sayings to them, of which they said, who can hear them? they could not hear them with patience, much less receive them in the love of them; but were at once filled with wrath and indignation, and rejected them.
And the bottles shall perish; their condemnation shall be the greater.
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