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Luke 5:33-39

The Superiority of the New

5:33 Then 1  they said to him, “John’s 2  disciples frequently fast 3  and pray, 4  and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, 5  but yours continue to eat and drink.” 6  5:34 So 7  Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the wedding guests 8  fast while the bridegroom 9  is with them, can you? 10  5:35 But those days are coming, and when the bridegroom is taken from them, 11  at that time 12  they will fast.” 5:36 He also told them a parable: 13  “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews 14  it on an old garment. If he does, he will have torn 15  the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 16  5:37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. 17  If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 5:38 Instead new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 18  5:39 19  No 20  one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” 21 

1 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.

2 tc Most mss (א*,2 A C D Θ Ψ Ë1,13 Ï latt sy) read διὰ τί (dia ti, “Why do John’s…?”) here, turning the statement into a question. But such seems to be a motivated reading, assimilating the text to Mark 2:18 and Matt 9:14. The reading represented in the translation is supported by Ì4 א1 B L W Ξ 33 892* 1241 sa.

sn John refers to John the Baptist.

3 sn John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees followed typical practices with regard to fasting and prayer. Many Jews fasted regularly (Lev 16:29-34; 23:26-32; Num 29:7-11). The zealous fasted twice a week on Monday and Thursday.

4 tn Grk “and offer prayers,” but this idiom (δέησις + ποιέω) is often simply a circumlocution for praying.

5 sn See the note on Pharisees in 5:17.

6 tn Grk “but yours are eating and drinking.” The translation “continue to eat and drink” attempts to reflect the progressive or durative nature of the action described, which in context is a practice not limited to the specific occasion at hand (the banquet).

7 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate that Jesus’ pronouncement is a result of their statements about his disciples.

8 tn Grk “the sons of the wedding hall,” an idiom referring to guests at the wedding, or more specifically, friends of the bridegroom present at the wedding celebration (L&N 11.7).

9 sn The expression while the bridegroom is with them is an allusion to messianic times (John 3:29; Isa 54:5-6; 62:4-5; 4 Ezra 2:15, 38).

10 tn Questions prefaced with μή (mh) in Greek anticipate a negative answer. This can sometimes be indicated by using a “tag” at the end in English (here it is “can you?”).

11 sn The statement when the bridegroom is taken from them is a veiled allusion by Jesus to his death, which he did not make explicit until the incident at Caesarea Philippi in 9:18ff.

12 tn Grk “then in those days.”

13 sn The term parable in a Semitic context can cover anything from a long story to a brief wisdom saying. Here it is the latter.

14 tn Grk “puts”; but since the means of attachment would normally be sewing, the translation “sews” has been used.

15 tn Grk “he tears.” The point is that the new garment will be ruined to repair an older, less valuable one.

16 sn The piece from the new will not match the old. The imagery in this saying looks at the fact that what Jesus brings is so new that it cannot simply be combined with the old. To do so would be to destroy what is new and to put together something that does not fit.

17 sn Wineskins were bags made of skin or leather, used for storing wine in NT times. As the new wine fermented and expanded, it would stretch the new wineskins. Putting new (unfermented) wine in old wineskins, which had already been stretched, would result in the bursting of the wineskins.

18 tc Most mss (A C [D] Θ Ψ Ë13 Ï latt sy) have καὶ ἀμφότεροι συντηροῦνται (kai amfoteroi sunthrountai, “and both will be preserved”), assimilating the text to Matt 9:17. The earliest and best witnesses, as well as many others (Ì4,75vid א B L W Ë1 33 579 700 1241 2542 co), however, lack the words.

sn The meaning of the saying new wine…into new skins is that the presence and teaching of Jesus was something new and signaled the passing of the old. It could not be confined within the old religion of Judaism, but involved the inauguration and consummation of the kingdom of God.

19 tc The Western textual tradition (D it) lacks 5:39. The verse is unique to Luke, so the omission by these mss looks like assimilation to the other synoptic accounts.

20 tc ‡ Although most mss begin the verse with καί (kai, “and”), beginning the sentence without a conjunction is both a harder reading and is found in early and important witnesses (Ì4,75vid א2 B 579 700 892 1241). NA27 puts the word in brackets indicating doubts as to its authenticity.

21 tc Most mss, especially the later ones (A C Θ Ψ Ë1,13 33 Ï lat), read χρηστότερος (crhstotero", “better”), a smoother reading. The reading of the text (found in Ì4 א B L W 1241 pc) is preferred as the more difficult reading. This reading could suggest that the new thing Jesus brings is not even considered, since the “old wine” is already found quite acceptable.

tn Grk “good.”

sn The third illustration points out that those already satisfied with what they have will not seek the new (The old is good enough).

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