Symbols of the Holy Spirit: Wine

While a life of drunkenness is clearly and adamantly condemned in the Scripture, wine can represent prosperity, joy, and the Holy Spirit. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul the apostle instructs the Church to avoid drunkenness and instead to experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit:

Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

The believer does not need wine to experience joy. Wine can only give unfulfilling counterfeits of what the Holy Spirit offers. The Holy Spirit is the wine of Heaven.

In the Book of Acts, when the Holy Spirit came upon the New Testament Church, those who saw the Holy Spirit’s influence on the believers assumed that they were drunk.

But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, “They’re just drunk, that’s all!” Then Peter stepped forward with the eleven other apostles and shouted to the crowd, “Listen carefully, all of you, fellow Jews and residents of Jerusalem! Make no mistake about this. These people are not drunk, as some of you are assuming. Nine o’clock in the morning is much too early for that” (Acts 2:13-15).

Of course, the Holy Spirit does not come to make us senseless and silly; He makes us sharp and bold. Many have abused those verses in Acts to defend bizarre and ungodly behavior. I believe in the joy and power of the Holy Spirit, but much of what we see on display today is just the flesh. So what was it that made the onlookers assume that the believers were drunk? It’s because they were acting under a new influence. They were behaving abnormally. They were speaking and moving in a way that was different. No, they weren’t belligerent, but they were bold! They weren’t incapacitated, but they were joyful.

The Holy Spirit is compared with wine, not because He brings foolishness and chaos, but because He brings boldness and joy. Just as people receive wine in celebration, so are we to receive the Holy Spirit with gladness. His presence, like wine, marks the occasion. Wine represents the joy, prosperity, and boldness brought about by the Holy Spirit. It too can be symbolic of the Holy Spirit.