What is a Wineskin?

Jesus said that you cannot take new wine and pour it into an old wineskin. This is because new wine expands in size and can break a brittle old wineskin, losing the wine. Jesus was of course less concerned with wine than with spiritual realities he was trying to explain.

Bible types and symbols tell us that the wine is the Holy Spirit and the wineskin is the container of the Holy Spirit. In one sense, the wineskin is God’s people and in each generation God does something new with His people. There is new wine, God moves in new ways and in that sense there is always a new wineskin for every new thing God does.

However if we really understand what Christ was saying, there is only one new wineskin. There was an old wineskin which was the dealings of God under the law and the Old covenant. That wineskin was full of shadows and types and had many symbols of things to come. That old wineskin was legalistic, black and white, and focused on outward things.

However God could not do what He needed with that kind of wineskin. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost could never be contained by that kind of wineskin. The wine would be wasted and there would be nothing left. There needed to be a new wineskin which was fresh and pliable, and that was the Church.

The new wineskin that God desired was NOT something that was formal, comprised of rules and regulations, but was something of the heart. It was something less tangible but even more real. Jesus initiated it Himself when he said “A new commandment I give you, that you must love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34) It was a revolutionary moment and Jesus did away with the old wineskin knowing it would never be suitable, and introduced something quite different which would hold the wine He knew was coming.

God desires to pour out the Holy Spirit on His people and it was prophesied in the book of Joel. “In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” (Joel 2:28 & Acts 2:17) God needed a wineskin suitable for that purpose and we will describe in more detail in the next section exactly what that new wineskin is like.

So what we are saying is that God wants to dwell among a people, and these people are a people of “the heart.” It is something made and joined by proper relationships between people, relationships of the heart. This is a wineskin that can contain what God is wanting to do, whereas a traditional type of religion is not the ideal vessel for a movement of God.