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Verse 15. Shall be great. {q} Shall be eminent, or distinguished as a preacher.

In the sight of the Lord. Greek, before the Lord. That is, shall be really or truly great. God shall regard him as such.

Shall drink neither wine. The kind of wine commonly used in Judea was a light wine, often not stronger than cider in this country. It was the common drink of all classes of the people. See Barnes on "Joh 2:11".

The use of wine was forbidden only to the Nazarite, Nu 6:3. It was because John sustained this character that he abstained from the use of wine.

Strong drink. {r} It is not easy to ascertain precisely what is meant by this word, but we are certain that it does not mean strong drink in our sense of the term. Distilled spirits were not then known. The art of distilling was discovered by an Arabian chemist in the ninth or tenth century; but distilled liquors are not used by Arabians. They banished them at once, as if sensible of their pernicious influence; nor are they used in Eastern nations at all. Europe and America have been the places where this poison has been most extensively used, and there it has beggared and ruined millions, and is yearly sweeping thousands unprepared into a wretched eternity. The strong drink among the Jews was probably nothing more than fermented liquors, or a drink obtained from fermented dates, figs, and the juice of the palm, or the lees of wine, mingled with sugar, and having the property of producing intoxication. Many of the Jewish writers say that by the word here translated strong drink was meant nothing more than old wine, which probably had the power of producing intoxication. See Barnes on "Isa 5:11".


Shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, {s} &c. Shall be divinely designated or appointed to this office, and qualified for it by all needful communications of the Holy Spirit. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be illuminated, sanctified, and guided by his influence. In this place it refers —

1st. To the divine intention that he should be set apart to this work, as God designed that Paul should be an apostle from his mother's womb, Ga 1:15.

2nd. It refers to an actual fitting for the work from the birth by the influence of the Holy Spirit, as was the case with Jeremiah (Jer 1:5), and with the Messiah himself, Ps 22:9,10.

{q} Lu 7:28 {r} Nu 6:3 {s} Jer 1:5

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