Luke 5:39

ESV And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’”
NIV And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, 'The old is better.''
NASB And no one, after drinking old wine wants new; for he says, ‘The old is fine.’?'
CSB And no one, after drinking old wine, wants new, because he says, 'The old is better.' "
NLT But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.'
KJV No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

What does Luke 5:39 mean?

Luke finishes his account of Jesus' metaphors of the wine and wineskin with a proverb that isn't recorded in Matthew or Mark. In the passage, Jesus explains that the freedom He offers cannot coexist with the Pharisees' onerous requirements. He eats with sinners, celebrates instead of mourns, and treats the Sabbath as a blessing, not a burden filled with harmful regulations (Luke 5:29–35; 6:1–11).

This is an old parable and it's easy to miss its intended symbolism. Old wine is, indeed, preferred to new in most situations because it's better. The same comparison can't be made with the old traditions of the Pharisees. Scholars believe the emphasis here isn't on the wine but on the drinker. That is, those who are used to the old traditions will find Jesus' new ways very difficult to accept. That was certainly the case in the early church as the Jewish Christians had difficulty associating with the Gentiles who followed Christ but were not bound by the Old Testament laws (Acts 15).

The passage doesn't infer this, but it's also worth noting that wine eventually spoils. "Bad wine" goes bad faster. The traditions of the Pharisees are bad wine, but the "drinkers" are used to it and have grown accustomed to the taste. Even the fine wine of the Mosaic law had an expiration date (Jeremiah 31:31¬–34). Jesus is offering the new wine of the gospel which they need and which will never go bad.
What is the Gospel?
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