Ephesians 5:18


King James Version (KJV)

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

American King James Version (AKJV)

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

American Standard Version (ASV)

And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit;

Basic English Translation (BBE)

And do not take overmuch wine by which one may be overcome, but be full of the Spirit;

Webster's Revision

And be not drunk with wine, in which is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

World English Bible

Don't be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

English Revised Version (ERV)

And be not drunken with wine, wherein is riot, but be filled with the Spirit;

Clarke's Ephesians 5:18 Bible Commentary

Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess - This is a farther allusion to the Bacchanalian mysteries; in them his votaries got drunk, and ran into all manner of excesses. Plato, though he forbade drunkenness in general, yet allowed that the people should get drunk in the solemnities of that god who invented wine. And indeed this was their common custom; when they had offered their sacrifices they indulged themselves in drunkenness, and ran into all kinds of extravagance. Hence it is probable that μεθυω, to get drunk, is derived from μετα, after, and θυω, to sacrifice; for, having completed their sacrifices, they indulged themselves in wine. The word ασωτια, which we translate excess, means profligacy and debauchery of every kind; such as are the general concomitants of drunkenness, and especially among the votaries of Bacchus in Greece and Italy.

But be filled with the Spirit - The heathen priests pretended to be filled with the influence of the god they worshipped; and it was in these circumstances that they gave out their oracles. See a remarkable instance of this quoted in the note on Luke 9:39 (note), where the case of a Bacchanalian is described. The apostle exhorts the Ephesians not to resemble these, but, instead of being filled with wine, to be filled with the Spirit of God; in consequence of which, instead of those discoveries of the Divine will to which in their drunken worship the votaries of Bacchus pretended, they should be wise indeed, and should understand what the will of the Lord is.

Barnes's Ephesians 5:18 Bible Commentary

And be not drunk with wine - A danger to which they were exposed and a vice to which those around them were much addicted. Compare notes on Luke 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 honor of that pagan 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 pagan. 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 the notes on John 2:10-11. 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 in 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 rendered here as excess - ἀσωτία asōtia. It occurs only in two other places in the New Testament, where it is rendered "riot;" Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 4:4. The "adjective" occurs once Luke 15:13, where it is rendered riotous. The word (derived, according to Passow, from α a, the alpha privative (not), and σώζω sōzō - 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 contained 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 Spirit, 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 suited 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 intemperate clergymen answer.

Wesley's Ephesians 5:18 Bible Commentary

5:18 Wherein is excess - That is, which leads to debauchery of every kind. But be ye filled with the Spirit - In all his graces, who gives a more noble pleasure than wine can do.

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