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EPHESIANS - Chapter 5 - Verse 18

Verse 18. And be not drunk with wine. A danger to which they were exposed, and a vice to which those around them were much addicted. See Barnes "Lu 21:34".

It is not improbable that in this verse there is an allusion to the orgies of Bacchus, or to the festivals celebrated in honour of that heathen god. He was "the god of wine," and, during those festivals, men and women regarded it as an acceptable act of worship to become intoxicated, and with wild songs and cries to run through streets, and fields, and vineyards. To these things the apostle opposes psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, as much more appropriate modes of devotion, and would have the Christian worship stand out in strong contrast with the wild and dissolute habits of the heathen. Plato says, that while those abominable ceremonies in the worship of Bacchus continued, it was difficult to find in all Attica a single sober man. Rosenmuller, Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc. On the subject of wine, and the wines used by the ancients, See Barnes "Joh 2:10, See Barnes "Joh 2:11".

We may learn from this verse,

(1.) that it was not uncommon in those times to become intoxicated on wine; and,

(2.) that it was positively forbidden. All intoxication is prohibited in the Scriptures—no matter by what means it is produced. There is, in fact, but one thing that produces intoxication. It is alcohol—the poisonous substance produced by fermentation. This substance is neither created nor changed, increased nor diminished, by distillation. It exists in the cider, the beer, and the wine, after they are fermented, and the whole process of distillation consists in driving it off by heat, and collecting it in a concentrated form, and so that it may be preserved. But distilling does not make it, nor change it. Alcohol is precisely the same thing in the wine that it is in the brandy after it is distilled; in the cider or the beer that it is in the whisky or the rum; and why is it right to become intoxicated on it in one form rather than another? Since therefore there is danger of intoxication in the use of wine, as well as in the use of ardent spirits, why should we not abstain from one as well as the other? How can a man prove that it is right for him to drink alcohol in the form of wine, and that it is wrong for me to drink it in the form of brandy or rum?

Wherein is excess. There has been much difference of opinion about the word here rendered excessaswtia. It occurs only in two other places in the New Testament, where it is rendered riot, Tit 1:6 1 Pe 4:4. The adjective occurs once, Lu 15:13, where it is rendered riotous. The word (derived, according to Passow, from a, and swzw to save, deliver means that which is unsafe; not to be recovered; lost beyond recovery; then that which is abandoned to sensuality and lust; dissoluteness, debauchery, revelry. The meaning here is, that all this follows the use of wine. Is it proper, then, for Christians to be in the habit of drinking it? "Wine is so frequently the cause of this, by the ungrateful abuse of the bounty of Providence in giving it, that the enormity is represented, by a very strong and beautiful figure, as contamed in the very liquor." Doddridge.

But be filled with the Spirit. The Holy Spirit. How much more appropriate to Christians than to be filled with the spirit of intoxication and revelry! Let Christians, when about to indulge in a glass of wine, think of this admonition. Let them remember that their bodies should be the temple of the Holy Ghost, rather than a receptacle for intoxicating drinks. Was any man ever made a better Christian by the use of wine? Was any minister ever better fitted to counsel an anxious sinner, or to pray, or to preach the gospel, by the use of intoxicating drinks? Let the history of wine-drinking and inteperate clergymen answer.

{d} "drunk with wine" Lu 21:34 {+} "excess" "dissoluteness"

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