What do we do with the Old Wineskin?

And He was also telling them a parable: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”” Luke 5:36-39 (NASB) also found in Mark 2:21-22 & Matthew 9:16-18


I read this passage last week and meditated on it. The first question that came to my mind is “What do we do with the Old Wineskin?” In Singapore’s culture, most of us will probably just throw it away. I think Jesus is saying much more than throwing away the old. I looked up a little more about wineskin and learnt that wineskin is usually made of goatskin with the insides lined with pitch to waterproof it. If wineskins are made of leather, then logically, it should not be thrown away as leather products usually last for a long time. It does not make sense to keep having to make new wineskins for the new wine. The reason why Old wineskins cannot hold new wine is because they become brittle and lose their elasticity. As new wine ferments, gases are created and it expands the wineskin. The old wineskin being less elastic will eventually burst because of the pressure inside and the new wine wasted. Interestingly, the word “fresh” is used to describe the wineskin used to contain new wine and not “new”. A fresh wineskin can be a new wineskin but it can also refer to an old wineskin that has been reconditioned. A reconditioned wineskin is as supple as new and is able to hold new wine. To recondition it, an old wineskin needs to be cleaned and then soaked in oil. The wineskin is soaked until it is rejuvenated to its supple and soft state to be ready for the new wine. So old wineskins are not thrown away or only being used to hold old wine. It can be made fresh again to hold new wine!

So how does it apply? I find it interesting that Luke acknowledges that old wine is better than new. This is true even till now that old wine is prefered more than new. So this passage does not undermine the old wine, but it is looking at a constant supply of wine, thus the need for fresh wineskins. The new wine in this passage can mean the new covenant and the old wine, the old covenant. This is true but it seems that the richness of this parable brings it beyond to include the new outpourings of God’s move, be it in the change of seasons in an individual, a church, or even at national level.

The next question is how do I apply the reconditioning of the wineskin? Old wineskin does not refer to the physical age of believers. A young person can be rigid and has an extremely fixed mindset that is not open to anything new. Rigid mindset that is inflexible alludes to an old wineskin. Similar to soaking the old wineskin in oil to recondition it, a person can ‘soak’ himself in the presence of God in worship, in the Word and in prayer. This parable is said right after the teaching on fasting, thus this “soaking” should also include fasting in combination of the other spiritual disciplines. It is to allow the Holy Spirit to wash over us over and over again until our hearts and spirits are tenderised to receive new things from God. This means taking time out to be quiet before the Lord. It is to allow God to speak once again, even for Bible passages which we are so familiar with, AFRESH. A reconditioned wineskin is refreshed, flexible, and passionate about the new things that God is doing.

Take for example, if God chooses to do a mighty move among the prostitutes and they start coming to your church services. Maybe some of you will be completely excited about it, and others apprehensive. The church community has not come into much contact with people who are in prostitution depending on the profile of the church members. Their presence can cause much discomfort in that they probably do not dress ‘right’ in church services, their talk is very uncouth and loud, and even the small inconveniences like dirtier restrooms. Yet this is a genuine move of God that requires a fresh wineskin to hold the new wine. A church in the old wineskin may choose to protect its tradition, culture and practices that has been passed from generations and side-lined these very souls that God wants to bring into His saving grace. This new wine begins to burst the old wineskin of the church when they are unable to hold this new wine, eventually breaking the wineskin, the church. The new wine is spilled, with these souls feeling rejected and leave the church. Whereas in the situation of a church that has been reconditioned to be a new wineskin, they are able to accept these ladies without prejudice, understanding what God is doing, and is patient to address their lifestyles and income sources with the unconditional love of Christ to help them start afresh. The new wineskin is not only willing, but proactively thinking of how to minister to this new harvest that God is bringing in. Overtime, this new wine of seekers when they are kept in this fresh wineskin, they will mature with grace and become as enjoyable as the old wine.

The question for myself, and perhaps you too, is whether I am a fresh wineskin for God to pour his new wine. If I am, what is this new wine that God is pouring into my life? If I am not, then it is best that I take time to be quiet before God so that the Holy Spirit can soften my heart and mind.

30 thoughts on “What do we do with the Old Wineskin?

  1. This thought is quite brilliant. I was doing a little study just now and it cured to me to look up the process of renewing an old wineskin. I got more than enough reading this. Thanks

      1. Many times I thought on this scripture and felt that there had to be a deep interpretation , one that I had not quite grasped. Reading this brought the revelations depth that I was seeking. Thank God for this!

      1. I am pursuing the concept of the ‘new wine’ being the seekers, or the people. I am interested in the idea that it is the people who need a new wineskin (-i.e. flexible and different from the ‘old wineskin’ of the established church), and that they need that wineskin for the process of maturing as believers. This is very different from the traditional interpretation that the new wine is Jesus teaching, or the work of the Holy Spirit.
        I would be most interested in hearing more on this, even if it is just to have a name that I can quote as my source!
        If you could direct me to any other writing that pursues this theme I would be most interested.
        Many thanks

        1. Dear Paul, thank you for taking time to write to me! Appreciate it! Honestly I haven’t come across any writing or material that talks about believers as wine skin. This was a revelation that came when I was meditating on the scripture passage. I do believe in Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit as new wine as scripture passages have many layers of understanding. Please do share with me if you have more revelations about this though. 😄

        2. Hi Paul, just to clarify, in my writing I still see Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit as the new wine. It is the new wine skin that I extended the imagery to represent believers as we are the temple in which Jesus dwell through the Holy Spirit. In this sense, we are the wine skin. 😄

    1. Hi Donald,
      I am not an expert in wineskins but I do know that for old wineskins to restore its stretchability, they need to be soaked in oil to be reconditioned. Old wineskins lose their ability to stretch, just like old leather that are dried up, and if they are stretched without being conditioned, they break. This is the reason why they cannot contain new wine, which gives out a lot of gases and requires the wineskin to stretch with the increase of gases within. Hope I answer your question. 🙂

  2. May Jesus Christ himself pour out a tremendous blessing of the fresh fire of his Spirit upon your life. Thank you so much for sharing this revelation. I have been truly blessed.

  3. Wow! I was just pondering what the heck is done with old wine skin and a quick google search brought me here. I believe your insight is spot on. Keep on soaking!

  4. I have been researching old wine skin and new ones for a long time now, and this knowledge is so eye opening and helpful to what God has been trying to teach me. God bless you

  5. I loved this article. It is fresh revelation on old and new wine skins. We can apply this to “why some people, churches, and nations, have not experienced revival. God always moving in a fresh new way and we must be ready and conditioned to receive the new move of God.

  6. Hi! I was wondering if you have an original source for this process or if this is a theory/revelation of yours? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Christina, I haven’t read anything that is similar to what I have written here. So there is no original source that I know of. It is very much a revelation that God gave me with the many questions that I have. I also read up on the natural processes of how old wine skin is rejuvenated.

  7. Hi Pauline!
    Thank you for your reply. I was wondering where you read up on the wine skin process? Much appreciated.

    1. Hi Christina,
      I can’t locate the site(s) where I found the information as it has been quite a number of years. The original word doc file with the reference was wiped out when my computer crashed.
      Most of the modern sites do not recommend reconditioning old leather wineskin (Spanish know them as Botas) as not worth the trouble.
      You can search how to tenderise old leather and the most common traditional method is to apply olive or coconut oil although modern solution is leather conditioner. Oil is one of the key ingredients in leather conditioner as well.

  8. I’ve been in the church my whole life (35 years). I’m be been really struggling lately and this morning I asked myself honestly “am I just an old worn out wine skin”. I knew there had to be a deeper answer then what is commonly given for this parable and that’s when I stumbled across this blog. THANK YOU! It is so much deeper …. God desire fruit on a continual basis (the wine) if we only had the old wine which is desirable then the party is over so to speak when it’s been all used up. There must be a continual supply and we as the body of Christ must be able to provide a hospitable environment for that new wine even if it’s still a major work in progress (as we all are if we are honest). The answer to my original question is a little more complicated than yes or no….I am an old wine skin, I’ve been used quite a bit, had to stand up to the sun and rain and dust and wind and everything else we endure as Christians in this life. The key though is that the “new” wineskin can be an old wineskin that is willing to be reconditioned…. to be cleaned up and all the dirt and debris removed once in awhile (repentance and humility) then renewed in oil (Gods Holy Spirit) and once again become usable to the Master. I’ve seen far to many Christians recently, continue to turn into old crusty brittle wine skins which takes no effort just a continuation on the current path. I’m trying to not end up there myself, it’s not easy or comfortable but if we aren’t renewing ourselves then we are just dying…..

    1. Hi Jordan, I am so encouraged by your sharing! Yes, it is an intentional and constant choice to be renewed. Hope you are soaking in the new oil for new wine to come. =)

  9. This was posted years ago. Yet it’s still here for old wineskins to learn how to be made fresh, for the ever flowing New Wine of CHRIST’s sacrifice, of Holy Spirit’s Wine of Revelations into the Ever Living Word!
    I just found it today & am blessed to now know how to be renewable by His Grace! Amen.

I will love to hear from you! =)