Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gleukos: "Sweet Wine"

     According to Luke, on the day of Pentecost when the Jews heard the apostles
speaking  in  the  various dialects  of  the  Jews  from  every  nation under heaven
(Acts 2:5),   they   mocked   them  saying,  "They   are   filled   with   sweet wine."
(Acts 2:13)

     The phrase "sweet wine" translates gleukos. The question is, was gleukos only
used for unfermented wine, or can it also indicate fermented    wine?   If     it     is  
correct    that    gleukos  is only   unfermented wine, it  is  strange  that  they  used
an  idiom  for  drunkenness,  "They  are filled with gleukos." (Acts 2:13) So, it
seems that gleukos could have some degree of fermenting  properties, at  least  in
this  context. It was sweet immature wine, or partially fermented wine that had not
reached full strength. The context makes this clear. Otherwise how could they have
judged the apostles as acting like men who were intoxicated? Unless of course, one
can become intoxicated on unfermented grape juice. The NIV-2011 translates the
idiom in this way, "They have had too much wine." The Exegetical Dictionary  Of  
The  New  Testament,  volume  1, page  251,  interprets  the  phrase "full of sweet
wine" in this way; "incompletely fermented new wine." In view of the context I believe
this is correct.    

     If anyone is disposed to argue by saying, "Filled with sweet wine does not mean
drunkenness," then  look  at  Peter's  response,  "For these are not drunk as you
suppose; seeing it is the third hour of the day." (verse 15)

     The apostles were filled with something; they were "filled by the Holy Spirit."
(Acts 2:4)

                                                                                                             R. Daly
Copyright 2013


  1. You can't get drunk on new wine, but Peter plainly responded to their hint, so wasn't "they've had too much new wine" a sneer, derisively spoken, weren't they mocking and laughing at the disciples?

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  3. Yes, the Jews did "sneer" because the text says they were
    "mocking" the apostles. (verse 13) But, that has nothing to
    do with the degree of fermentation of "sweet wine." The fact
    remains that "sweet wine" could be fermented. Just think my
    friend, Peter did not say, "These are not drunk as you suppose because 'sweet wine' is not fermented." He did say, "These are
    not drunk as you suppose SEEING IT IS BUT THE THIRD HOUR
    OF THE DAY." (Acts 2:15)

    Thanks so much for your comment.

  4. As someone who drink wine since about 3 years old and was making wine when I was 13 years old (42 years ago) I understand it as follows: Young wine is effervescent and sweet, which continues to ferment until the increase in alcohol content inhibits the fermentation of yeast/sugar into alcohol. Now one would imagine that one would more easily get drunk on the low sugar/high alcohol well-fermented wine. But this is not the case, since the young wine's high sugar and effervesence make the absorption of alcohol into the stomach lining and the bubbles enter the blood stream. In short it, it quickly creates inebriation and drunken stumbling about and so is only drunk by people ignorant to this fact. So in a wine drinking society, getting drunk like this would be regarded as foolish people having drunk such young wine and not realised the consequences.