This is in response to a question that came up. What is the “new wine” of Acts 2:13? The record could have just said “wine.” What is the meaning and significance of “new wine?”
“New wine” is translated from a Greek word that indicates sweet and/or fresh wine. Most versions translate this as “new wine” as is in the King James Version, and I believe that is correct.
I have heard it taught that “new wine” in the Bible refers to recently squeezed grape juice, unfermented and thus no alcoholic content. This interpretation does not fit the context in Acts 2. In Peter’s response to the accusation that the apostles were full of new wine, he says (verse 15), “For these are not drunken as ye suppose.”
Let’s take a look at the context.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
The apostles were speaking with “other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” There were people present from many different cultures and languages. Each person heard one or more of the apostles speak the wonderful works of God in his own language. But, of course, other apostles were speaking in some other language. For any given listener, he heard one or more apostle speaking in his language and the others speaking in other languages. There were those among the listeners who chose to mock, accusing those speaking in languages they did not understand of “being full of new wine.”
When we consider the meaning of the term “new wine,” we must note that the term was being used in a derisive way. It was part of the insult. The mockers were not just accusing the apostles of being drunk. They were accusing them of being drunk with “new wine.”
Biblical days were no different than modern times in that aged wine was better than new wine as is stated in Luke 5.
Luke 5:39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.
Saying these men are full of low quality wine was more of a crass insult than if they had just said the men had too much to drink; and the purpose of the mockers was to insult the apostles.