Matthew 9:14-17 "Be in Time"

A Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, 15 January 2012


9:14 Then the disciples of John come up to Him saying, “Why are we and the Pharisees fasting [a lot], yet your disciples are not fasting?”

9:15 And Jesus said to them, “The wedding party can’t mourn for as long as the bridegroom is still with them, can they? But days will come at which time the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will mourn.

9:16 Also, nobody overlays a patch [made] of an unwashed fragment onto an old garment, for the whole thing will draw up from the garment and a worse tear will happen!

9:17 And they don’t throw fresh juice into old wineskins, or else the wineskins get ripped open and the wine gets spilled out and the wineskins get ruined. Rather, new wine is thrown into new wineskins so both are conserved.

Introduction – staying in sync with congregational singing

A few weeks ago, I got to participate in the Christmas Day worship service at Briarwood Presby­terian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, where I grew up. Pastor Reader called it “Christ Day” – and I like that title. Anyway, after many years of being in small churches, it’s a fun change of pace to worship with a big congregation again and to see all the beautiful decorations and hear a big choir accompanied by a pipe organ and a full orchestra! The sanctuary was gigantic – it was designed to hold several thou­sand people, so from one end to the other is almost as long as a football field, marked out with pews instead of chalk lines. As the conductor ascended the podium at the front for the first hymn, I was sit­ting in a balcony against the back wall, anticipating the tremendous wave of sound from thousands of people singing praise to God. He gave the downbeat and started to conduct the hymn, and I almost burst out laughing! From my vantage point, it looked and sounded like every­one was totally ignoring him and that he was randomly swinging his arms totally out of sync with the music. Actually his con­duct­ing was in sync with the sound he was hearing up front, but since the speed of sound is a million times slower than the speed of light, and since we were so far away, we were hearing the sound from the front of the hall a second or so after it had happened, but we were still seeing the conductor’s motions in almost real time. The conductor was at least partially aware of this problem, because he would wave at everyone to stop singing in between each verse and give a long pause before starting into the next verse of the hymn in order for those of us at the back of the sanctuary who hadn’t quite finished singing the verse to catch up with those at the front who had already finished the verse! But it was kind-of funny to watch the struggle to keep so many people in time with each other. If I were in his shoes, I don’t know that I could do any better job at keeping everyone in time.


Apparently, the followers of John the Baptizer were starting to feel like I did at the Briarwood worship service – something is out of sync! Here we are fasting and eating survival food out in the wilderness with John, and there the Messiah is that John so looks up to – but instead of fasting out in the wilderness, this Messiah is feasting away in town! What gives? So…

The Question from John’s Disciples (v.14)

9:14 Then the disciples of John come up to Him saying, “Why are we and the Pharisees fasting [a lot], yet your disciples are not fasting?”

Τότε προσέρχονται αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταὶ ᾿Ιωάννου λέγοντες· διὰ τί ἡμεῖς καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι νηστεύομεν [πολλά-אB], οἱ δὲ μαθηταί σου οὐ νηστεύουσι;

·         The similarity of their question to the previous question from the Pharisees is striking. They actually both start with the same Greek words, “dia ti…,” and both groups were asking questions about eating: “Why does your master eat with them? … Why aren’t you fasting?”

·         To understand the issues about fasting, remember that the only fast actually required in the O.T. law was the once-a-year fast on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27). Fasting more often wasn’t necessarily wrong; it was just not necessarily required by God.

o       We need to be careful not to expect all other Christians to be as zealous as we are if we live by standards that are more strict than the Bible explicitly demands.

o       It is evidence of a lack of “humility and charity,” wrote Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Matthew, when I try to make myself “a standard in religion, by which to try and measure persons and things… as if all that did less than [me], did too little, and all that did more than [me], did too much…” Have a little humility and grace about differences in Christian practice!

·         What’s more, the disciples of John and the Pharisees might not have known it even if Jesus’ disciples had been fasting, because Jesus had told His disciples not to make a big deal out of fasting: Matt. 6:16-18 “… when you are fasting, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you might not be revealed to men as fasting.”

o       It could well have been that the disciples of John were misjudging the situation because they were ignorant of what was really going on. It could have been that Jesus’ disciples were fasting just as much as they did, but just weren’t letting on that they were. Although this didn’t happen to be the case, John’s disciples and the Pharisees could have been working themselves up over nothing... just as we often get ourselves worked up over nothing because we don’t understand all that’s going on in another person’s life.

o       “We must not judge other people’s religion by that with falls under the eye…” ~Matt. Henry

·         From the accounts of Mark and Luke, it appears that the Pharisees were trying to create division between the followers of Jesus and John the Baptizer by planting this thought in their minds about their differences and inciting them to go ask Jesus about their differences.

o       Furthermore, the Pharisees were attempting to create a division between Jesus and His disciples as well, first by going to Jesus’ disciples and criticizing Jesus for having loose social habits, then by going to Jesus and criticizing His disciples for a lack of piety[1].

o       It is our enemy’s strategy to divide believers up and pit them against each other. “Why are we followers of John fasting and you followers of Jesus not fasting?” Don’t fall for this trick!

o       I was impressed with John Calvin’s comment on this: “We must especially beware that the consensus of the faithful is not split over an issue of external ceremony, and so the bond of charity is broken. Practically all of us labour under the affliction of attributing to the rites and worldly elements far more than they deserve!”

§         Our church sings these kind of songs…

§         Our church believes such-and-such about the end times…

§         Our church does the Lord’s Supper this way…

§         Our church baptizes that way… and on and on the controversies rage.

§         Don’t let it divide you (unless God’s Word explicitly says to divide over it)!

·         Now, how much of these wrong attitudes of causing division, misjudging, and legalism were really behind the motives of John’s disciples? I do not know, but certainly there must have been in them a recognition that there was something different going on in practice between them­selves (who, along with the Pharisees, represented – in many ways – the best of the pre-messianic order), and, on the other hand, the disciples of Jesus (who represented the messianic order). This was a case of B.C. believers bumping up against the A.D. order of things (anno domini = in the year of our Lord).


Inasmuch as they were asking an honest question, Jesus gave them His answer:

Jesus’ answer in the context of Weddings (v.15)

9:15 And Jesus said to them, “The wedding party can’t mourn for as long as the bridegroom is still with them, can they? But days will come at which time the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· μὴ δύνανται οἱ υἱοὶ τοῦ νυμφῶνος πενθεῖν ἐφ᾿ ὅσον[2] μετ᾿ αὐτῶν ἐστιν ὁ νυμφίος; ἐλεύσονται δὲ ἡμέραι ὅταν ἀπαρθῇ ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν ὁ νυμφίος, καὶ τότε νηστεύσουσιν.

·         I shared word studies on the Greek words for “mourning” and “fasting” previously when I was going over the Sermon on the Mount, but to review briefly:

o        This word for “mourn” (penthein) is in the beatitudes (5:4) “Blessed are the ones who mourn, because it is they who will be comforted.” This kind of mourning is used throughout the Bible:

§         to grieve over the death of a loved one,

§         to grieve over the consequences of sin and God’s terrible punishment,

§         and to grieve over the rebellion and sin of other people.

o       In the parallel accounts of Mark 2:19 and Luke 5:34, the word “fast” appears here instead of “mourn,” further defining what the disciples of John were doing as they mourned over sin and its consequences.

·         But Jesus says in His reply to John’s disciples that there are certain circumstances when it is not appropriate for certain people to mourn or fast, and there are other circumstances when it is appropriate for certain people to mourn and fast. Who are those people, and what are the circumstances?

o       Here the people Jesus refers to are literally “the children of the bridechamberKJV,” but the modern English versions morph it into phrases that make more sense to us, such as the friendsNKJ/ attendantsNAS/ guestsNIV,ESV of the bridegroom or the “wedding party.” So Jesus is comparing His disciples to the groomsmen[3] at a wedding.

o       And here the circumstances which govern the appropriateness of whether or not these grooms­men fast is the presence – or absence – of, what in Greek is called the numphios – the bridegroom[4].

·         Throughout scripture, the appearance of the bridegroom is portrayed as a time of happiness:

o       Psalm 19:5  …like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; he rejoices

o       Song of Solomon 3:11 …behold king Solomon… in the day of his wedding, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

o       Isaiah 61:10 …my soul will rejoice in my God, for he has caused me to be clothed in garments of salvation… like a bridegroom

o       Jeremiah 16:9  …the voice of rejoicing and the voice of gladness, the voice of the groom and the voice of the bride. (cf. 7:34,25:10, 33:11).

o       What happens when the groom is gone? Then it’s time for mourning: Joel 1:8 “Wail like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.”

o       And what happens when it’s time to call a fast? You call off the weddings: Joel 2:15-16 …Consecrate a fast, proclaim a solemn assembly... Let the bridegroom come out of his room And the bride out of her bridal chamber[5]. Weddings and fasts don’t work together.

·         John 3:29 John the Baptizer himself said, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend[6] of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full!”

o       John was proclaiming that Jesus is like a bridegroom, and when Jesus is near, there is joy!

o       In Matthew 9 here, Jesus is also claiming that He stands in relation to His people as a groom to a bride and that His disciples are like groomsmen.

o       William Hendricksen’s commentary is good at this point: “Disciples of the Lord mourning while their Master is performing works of mercy and while words of life and beauty are dropping from His lips, how utterly incongruous! …the salvation which He brought was out of line with fastings from which the note of joy was completely excluded… this was especially true with respect to His disciples, the men who stood in the closest relation to Him.”

·         The week before I got married, my buddies from the Christian college dorm where I was living nab­bed me as I was preparing dinner with my wife-to-be, threw me into the trunk of their car, and drove me back to the dorm, where they wrestled me down and dyed my hair bright orange. Then they or­dered pizza, and we had a good time talking about our hopes and dreams for the future. We were hav­ing fun, just being together as guy friends. That’s what bachelor parties ought to be – good clean fun!

o       Then, a few days later (after I managed to wash the dye out my hair), we had the wedding. What a party that was! Family and friends came from all around. We were all dressed up to the hilt. We had tons of special snacks and punch, and two big cakes – a white one for the bride and a chocolate one for the groom, in true Southern fashion. There was music and dancing – we even brought in James Ward’s gospel band and choir. I’ll never forget watching my Dad’s mother, elderly as she was, boogie-ing up the aisle for the recessional singing along with the gospel choir, “Let the people praise the Lord.” It was time to celebrate, and so we did!

o       But after the wedding, when guys settle down into family life, there isn’t as much partying with the guys anymore. And, after the wedding, there are times when the husband and wife have to separate for a time while one of them travels, or, in the case of war, one may have to deploy, and while they are apart, loneliness naturally sets in. The husband and wife look forward to the day when they can rejoice in being back together again.

·         In our relationship with God, we are currently in a time of physical separation from Jesus.

o       The word “taken away” here in Matthew 9:15 literally means “gone up” (airw) and was fulfilled literally when Jesus ascended into heaven after His death and resurrection.

o       That time of fasting spoken of in the future tense in this verse is now upon us, as we wait for the return of Christ.

o       So now it is appropriate to spend times occasionally fasting and mourning over sin and longing for Jesus’ return when He will do away with sin and its ravages.

·         But when Jesus comes back, it’s going to be time to have fun and rejoice in being together with Him! John speaks of this in the book of the Revelation 19:7-9 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints…. “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” 21:1-27 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is among mankind, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’ And He who sits on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ … Then one of the seven angels … said, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’ …and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. …the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it… and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”


As we operate within the boundaries of time, it is important to be doing the right thing at the right time or else we’ll mess things up. Jesus further illustrates this with two examples from manufacturing:

Jesus’ answer in the context of sewing (v.16)

9:16 Also, nobody overlays a patch [made] of an unwashed fragment onto an old garment, for the whole thing[7] will draw up [pullNAS,NIV,NKJ/tearESV away] from the garment and a worse tear will happen!

οὐδεὶς δὲ ἐπιβάλλει[8] ἐπίβλημα ῥάκους ἀγνάφου ἐπὶ ἱματίῳ παλαιῷ· αἴρει γὰρ τὸ πλήρωμα αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱματίου, καὶ χεῖρον[9] σχίσμα γίνεται.

·         No one in their right mind – no experienced tailor – is going to sew together old cloth with new cloth, because new cloth tends to shrink more the first time you wash and dry it.

·         This clothing patch is described in Greek as “agvaphou” – rawATR, not processed, untreated, not fulled or laundered, and therefore (as all the modern English versions render it), “unshrunk.”

·         I remember when I was a kid, buying blue jeans at Sears back when there was no such thing as pre-washed jeans. After Mom washed those new blue jeans the first time, they would shrink up, so unless me and my brother wanted to sing soprano for the rest of the semester, we always had to buy them a little big so that when they shrunk they would fit right.

·         When Grace & Irene were making skirts a month or so ago, they bought fabric and cut it into the right shapes and were about to start sewing the pieces together when Paula stopped them and said, “Wait, you need to first wash those pieces of cloth and dry them before you sew them together, otherwise, they might shrink and make your sewing seams uneven!”


Just like an unshrunk patch or fabric overlay, the fasting regimens of John’s disciples would just create problems in the context of what Jesus was currently doing. Jesus gives one more illustration:

Jesus’ answer in the context of wine-making (v.17)

9:17 And they don’t throw fresh juice into old wineskins, or else the wineskins get ripped open and the wine gets spilled out and the wineskins get ruined. Rather, new wine is thrown into new wineskins so both are conserved.

οὐδὲ βάλλουσιν οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς παλαιούς· εἰ δὲ μή γε, ῥήγνυνται[10] οἱ ἀσκοί καὶ ὁ οἶνος ἐκχεῖται[11] καὶ οἱ ἀσκοὶ ἀπόλλυνται · ἀλλὰ οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς βάλλουσιν καινούς[12], καὶ ἀμφότεροι[13] συντηροῦνται.

·         Folks don’t throw freshly-pressed grape juice (also called “new wine”) into old skins.

·         The word for “skin” (askous) doesn’t show up anywhere else in the NT besides the parallel passages to this verse, but throughout the O.T. we see it referring to the old-fashioned way of containing and carrying liquids:

o       They would take the skin of a sheep or goat and tie or sew it tightly together, and put a cork in the neck opening, and then they could fill it up with whatever liquid they wanted:

o       Genesis 21:14-19 describes Abraham sending Hagar out into the desert with a skin of water and God helping her re-fill it with spring-water when it ran dry.

o       Jael gave Sisera a drink of milk from a skin container, according to Judges 4:19 (LXX).

o       David, when he was a boy, carried, among other things, a skin full of wine down to his brothers who were fighting against the Philistines (1 Samuel 16:20, cf. Josh 9:4, 1 Sam. 10:3, Jer. 13:12).

·         So what’s wrong with putting new wine into old wineskins?

o       When a container made of animal-skin gets old, it gets brittle and starts cracking:

§         Job mentions this in 13:28 “I am waxing old like a wineskin or like a moth-eaten garment.”

§         The Gibeonites tricked Joshua by packing old wine skins and making the brief trip to where Joshua was, and claiming to have walked such a long distance that their wineskins had grown brittle and cracked (Joshua 9:13).

o       Furthermore, freshly-pressed grape juice has little bits of yeast in it that, over time, eat some of the sugar out of the juice and excrete carbon dioxide. That’s still the way some bottlers make the fizz in carbonated drinks. (The yeast also excretes alcohol which turns the juice into wine.)

§         But, if you keep that stuff in a closed container, the pressure of the carbon dioxide gas will build up and put pressure on the walls of the container just like Coke does to the walls of a two-liter bottle or an aluminum can before it’s opened.

§         Job uses this as a simile to describe how bad his tummy felt in his book: “my belly is as a skin of sweet wine, bound up and ready to burst…” (Job 32:19 Brenton)

§         So, if you put grape juice into an old wineskin, the skin will burst from the fermenting action. This, of course, ruins the bag, and, what’s worse, results in the loss of the juice or wine as it spillsNKJ,ESV/ runsKJV,NIV/ and even poursNAS out.

·         Luke’s parallel account records something in addition to Matthew and Mark’s account. Luke 5:39 says, “And no one, having drunk of the old desires the new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” Once again we have the contrast of the old and the new – in this case, aged wine versus freshly-pressed grape juice, and Jesus is describing folks who like the old stuff and won’t even try the new stuff. This has been interpreted in opposite ways by Bible scholars over the years:

o       The old way can represent the Pharisee’s way of religious rituals, ceremonies, and tradi­tions which certainly makes for a rich culture but which blinds men to the goodness of the new order introduced by Jesus, in which repentance and faith in Him (rather than the observation of Jewish tradition) is necessary for a relationship with God.

§         The lesson then is not to be a wine-snob who is so focused on preserving old traditions that we fail to see the potential good in the N.T. and fail to appreciate fresh ways of devotion to Christ outside of our cultural traditions.

o       This passage also gets interpreted the other way around, recognizing that the old way of salvation has actually been God’s grace in offering a substitute to die in our place for our sins, and that the Pharisees were offering a new, erroneous way of salvation based upon Jewish ethnicity and observation of man-made rules.

§         In this way of looking at it, Jesus represents the old wine of salvation by God’s grace (which is better), and the Pharisees represent the new wine of salvation through man’s effort (which is inferior).

§         Thus the application is that we should not go chasing after newfangled ways of relating to God through complicated fasting or meditation systems or dietary regimens, but we should keep on delighting in “the old, old story” of God’s grace saving sinners like us by meeting us where we are, taking on our griefs, and freely giving us His life. I prefer this interpretation.


1.      Recognize that Jesus is the life of the party:

·         “The wedding party can’t mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them and then they will fast.”

·         Make Jesus the center of your life: everything revolves around Him and what He is doing.

·         Let’s prepare eagerly for His return and anticipate the joy of being with Him in the world to come!

2.      Be gentle with how you treat other believers with different traditions. Jesus was not pushy.

·         A number of Bible scholars suggest that Jesus was not imposing rigorous ascetic disciplines on His disciples because they simply were not physically conditioned for it. According to Matthew Henry, the Pharisees fasted two days a week, but Jesus’ earliest disciples were probably used to having all the fish they could eat and doing manual labor for a living, so Jesus knew that suddenly imposing lots of fasting would be too hard on them.

·         We can also learn from Jesus’ reply how to respond to potentially-divisive issues: Jesus’ reply does not condemn John’s followers. John had probably been imprisoned by Herod by this time, so it was quite appropriate for John’s disciples to fast and mourn over this – and other distressing problems in their country. Jesus merely supports His disciples without condemning John’s, “They’re part of my wedding party, how could they be sad?!”

·         Matthew Henry wrote concerning this, “When at any time we are unjustly censured, our care must be only to clear ourselves, not to recriminate or throw dirt upon others; and such a variety may there be of circumstances as may justify us in our practice without condemning those that practice otherwise.”

·         For instance, there is no reason to criticize someone who grew up on the King James Bible and loves it. When I was a boy, the KJV was about all there was, and we did fine with it, but since studying Greek, I’m all about translating into contemporary English.

·         Whatever the case, we must accept the fact that different Christians are going to have different life experiences, and we need to be o.k. with that. As Calvin put it, “if ever the Lord relieves our brother’s weakness and treats them kindly, while He deals with us more grimly, we are not to complain. And if we are granted a relaxation of sadness and troubles, we must beware not to dissipate ourselves in soft living… everything does not suit everybody, and one must be especially sparing on the infirm, that they are not shattered by violent usage or broken under a weight of responsibility.”

3.      Know what time it is and what it is appropriate to do at this time!

·         There are Christians who focus on living a comfortable life and insulating themselves from the world, believing that the world is “going to hell in a handbasket.” This is a misunderstanding of the times. We are not in the wedding party yet, we are still waiting for Jesus’ return. And the Apostle Peter tells us that “the patience of the Lord is salvation” – for now, there is time for repentance and faith – to seek for things and people in the world to be redeemed.

·         There are other Christians who believe in a doctrine called complete preterism – that Jesus’ second coming was in 70AD, that all the prophecies of the future have been fulfilled, and that we are currently living in the new earth. They believe that this world is going to get better and better as mankind eventually finds a way to heal every disease and fix every problem with the world. This also is a misunderstanding of the times.

·         We are in the time inbetween Jesus’ first and second coming. It is a time when evil has not been eradicated yet from our own hearts or from the ways of the world, so it is a time to fast and mourn over all that is not right within ourselves and in the world and beg God to forgive us, to have mercy on our friends, and to bring healing and salvation as His kingdom grows.

·         There is an old hymn that goes:

Life at best is very brief, Like the falling of a leaf, Like the binding of a sheaf:
Be in time.
Fleeting days are telling fast That the die will soon be cast, And the fatal line be passed:
Be in time.
Fairest flowers soon decay, Youth and beauty pass away; O you have not long to stay:
Be in time.
While God's Spirit bids you come, Sinner, do no longer roam, Lest you lose your way back home
Be in time.

Sinner, heed the warning voice, Make the Lord your final choice; Then all heaven will rejoice:
Be in time.
Come from darkness into light; Come, let Jesus make you right; Come, and start for heaven tonight:
Be in time.

[1] This was a good point raised by Matthew Henry. The Bible is clear on what to do if you have an issue with a church leader: 1Tim. 5:19 “Do not accept a gripe against an elder without there being two or three witnesses; rebuke the sinners in front of everybody…” Good leaders take the blame for their followers, and good followers extend the benefit of the doubt to their leaders for as long as it is reasonable.

[2] The Greek Orthodox tradition of the Matthew text inserts χρόνον here, but it doesn’t change the meaning, since hoson already implies time.

[3] Lexicographers trace the word from a root that means “veil.” Besides the parallel passages of this verse in Matthew, the word numphwnos only occurs one other place in the Bible, and that is as an alternate reading in a half dozen Greek manuscripts of the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:10), describing a place that was “filled” with people who were “seated” for a wedding banquet, and this is commonly accepted as the meaning of the word – a place that is associated with a wedding.

[4] The same word for “bridegroom” is also used in the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 25:1-10) and the account of the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned the water to wine (John 2:9).

[5] Here we have a Greek synonym for numphwnos: παστου. Another synonym occurs in Matthew 25: γαμους

[6]  φιλος – referring to John the Baptizer

[7] All the modern English versions depart from a literal translation here by substituting the word “patch” instead of “the fullness of it.” The KJV commendably tried to render it literally, “that which is put in to fill it up,” but it is cumbersome.

[8] This word has a wide range of meaning, but there is a narrow section of passages which use it in the context of sewing and cloth which indicates laying one layer on top of another: Lev. 19:19; Num. 4:6-8 & 14. Epiblema, which could literally be translated “overlayment,” only occurs in one other Bible context, perhaps describing a “shawl” (Brenton) “thrown over” a woman’s regular clothes in Isaiah 3:22. Hrakous is only found here and in the parallel passage in Mark, stemming from a root having to do with fragmenting; its verbal form is found in the next verse referring to the cracking and fragmenting of an old, brittle wineskin. Agnaphos is an alpha-privative, “not processed by a launderer,” and the form without the alpha is to be found in 2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 7:3 & 36:2, and Mark 9:3.

[9] Thayer says this is an irregular comparative form of kakos.

[10] Previously used of the damage the swine could do to you after trampling your pearls (Mt. 7:6). Here it is in the passive voice, so why do all the major English versions translate it with an active verb? As for meaning, it is used in the LXX of earthquakes (Gen. 7:11, Num. 16:31, 1 Kings 1:40, Prov. 3:20), divisions between land and water (Ex. 14:16, Neh. 9:11, Hab. 3:9), breaking forth vocally into a loud sound (Job 6:5, Isaiah 35:6, 49:13, 52:9, 54:1, Gal. 4:27), tearing of a garment (1 Kings 11:31, Job 2:12, Isa. 5:27), busting up a stone structure (1 Kings 13:3-5, 2 Kings 25:4, Jer. 39:2), muscle spasms (Mark 9:18, Luke 9:42), cloudbursts (Job 26:8), daybreak (Isa. 58:8), hatching eggs (Isa. 59:5), and even a broken heart (Job 17:11). It is used specifically of aged wineskins in Job 32:19 and Joshua 9:13 in the incident with the Gibeonites.

[11] Ekcheitai is initially used in Gen. 9:6 for shedding blood, and is used for that in the NT as well, but it’s also used for pouring, whether accidentally and wastefully, as the case is here (and with Onan’s seed and Judas’ guts), or purposefully and positively (such as the blood poured out at the base of the altar in the sacrificial ceremonies, the pouring out of blessing from God, Jesus’ blood of the covenant poured out for us for the forgiving of sin, the Holy Spirit poured out upon us, and the bowls of wrath poured out in John’s Revelation).

[12] Here kainos is the adjective rather than neos perhaps because this wine-containing is a renewed use for a skin that served another purpose previously of keeping a goat warm and healthy, whereas the grapes had not had a previous use before being juiced.

[13] The Textus Receptus (Greek New Testament compilation from which the KJV was translated) has the Neuter rather than the Masculine form of this word. The wine and the skin it refers to are both masculine, but it doesn’t really make a difference. The next word, sunterew, literally “kept together” is translated preserved, but I like Strong’s translation “conserved” because “con-” like the Greek “sun-” means “with.” Two other places where this word is used to speak of preserving of multiple things is Ezekiel 18:19 (“he has kept together justice and mercy”), and Luke 2:19 (“Mary treasured all these things in her heart”)