Matthew 9:16-17 to Ponder

Matthew 9:16-17 (ESV)
16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made.
17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

Do you have any clue what this passage is saying?

It seems so out of place.  It follows a portion where Jesus and His disciples are accused for not fasting like the Pharisees.  Jesus had responded with:

Matthew 9:15 (ESV) “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.

Does the wineskin portion have anything to do with the fasting and bridegroom?


11 thoughts on “Matthew 9:16-17 to Ponder

  1. Here is what John Macarthur says about this passage. It’s a little lengthy, but he seems to nail it.

    “No man puts a piece of new cloth on an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up takes from the garment, and the tear is made worse.” Now, in those days, the garments were cotton or wool, and both would shrink. If you had an old robe, and you got a big hole in it, right? And you take a piece of brand new cloth, stick it in that hole, and stitch it all around, then, as soon as you wash that garment, that new cloth shrinks, and the old fibers are gonna be ripped by the strength of the new cloth; and all you’re gonna get is a bigger hole. You keep doing it, and it just gets bigger and bigger. You can’t put a new one in an old robe. Anybody who knows, knows that if you’re gonna patch an old robe, you gotta use an old piece of material.

    What Jesus is saying is this. “There is no way that what I teach can fit into your system. No way. There is no way that the message that I am giving of an internal holiness, of a real repentance, of a heart attitude, can ever fit in the ritualistic system that you hold. No way. Not only won’t it connect; but, secondly, your system can’t contain it.”

    Verse 17, “Neither do men put new wine in old wineskins, else the wineskins break and the wine runs out and the wineskins perish. But they put new wine in new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Now, what they used to do in storing wine was they took the skin of an animal, took the hair off it, and sometimes even turned it inside out; and they would use the neck part where the head was cut off as the spout; and then they would secure by stitching all they other openings; and they’d have this whole big animal hide; and they’d fill it up with wine.

    Now, once it had been emptied and had hung around without anything in it, it would get very dry; because, in the filling, it would stretch; and in the drying, then, it would crack. If you refilled it again, the weight of it would just break the cracks open and you’d lose it all. So you had to put new wine in new wineskins; and what the Lord is saying is, “Look, your system won’t hold this truth. You just have to dump your system. There’s no connection.”…The pharisaical, Judaistic, traditional, legalistic, formal, self-righteous externalism was in no way able to either mesh with the ministry of Christ nor was that system able to contain the ministry of Christ.

    You know what the result of it is? The system had only one option. The system had to eliminate Christ. That’s all…that’s the only option they had, and they did…It’s useless…to try to put the two together. This is a very important point…that our Lord is making. He did not come to make a few additions to Judaism. The forms of Judaism couldn’t contain the message He brought. Now, that is not to say, listen to me, that is not to say that the Old Testament is disconnected. Oh, no. He came to fulfill the Old Testament. Their religion was not the religion of the Old Testament. It was a rabbinic tradition that denied the very truth of the Old Testament as He made abundantly clear in the Sermon on the Mount…

    So Jesus said, “Look, your system says you’re righteous. Mine says you’re vile and sinful. No way to match those two together. If you hang onto yours, that’s it.”…I really believe, people, that when someone comes to Christ, they have to say goodbye to a ritual system. Now, there are people in ritualistic systems. They’ll confess Christ. I think if it’s genuine, eventually, they’re gonna come out of that ritualistic system…to the freedom of Christ, to the expression of an inward relationship.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    That is so funny I was just reading that same sermon!

    I had actually copied this from the sermon:

    But to use anything as a means, some ritual to gain the favor of God is to miss the point; and He really just shows the difference between what He taught and their entire system. They just function, function, function without any meaning.

    I have had a hard time finding others who have said much about this passage. Even the ESV Study Bible is rather quiet about it. I found one very old commentary from John Albert Bengel.

    I must say I can’t remember any sermons on this passage.

    Berean Wife

  2. My thoughts were exactly the same as those Mark attributed to John MacArthur, though I could never be as eloquent.

    I always though of it in terms of trying to fit the new covenant into the framework of the old one, and that Jesus was clearly saying that this is not possible.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    Next the question becomes what was part of the Old Covenant? That gets more complicated. Obviously this isn’t just talking about fasting.

    Berean Wife

  3. Wow! I never got this, and I’ve yet to hear a teaching on it! Granted, I’ve only been to church a handful of times in my life… I’m glad to say I am attending when I can..

    I don’t think I’d hear about this for quite-some-time..

    I’m so thankful for God’s blessings in your life, so that I may have found this teaching! It makes so much sense, now!

    Stay strong in the Faith.

    in Christ,
    Malachi H.

    Berean Wife Reply:


    I’m glad you found this helpful. I hope it pricks your interest to study the Bible deeply and not just skim the surface like most do.

    Berean Wife

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