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What are revellings in the Bible?


The word revellings (“noisy partying” or “carousing”) is found in two places in the King James Version of the Bible. Galatians 5:19–21 includes revellings in the list of the works of the flesh. First Peter 4:3 mentions revellings as part of the lifestyle of “pagans,” meaning those who do not know God and who live as though He does not exist. More modern versions of the Bible translate the Greek word for “revellings” as “revelries” (NKJV), “orgies” (NIV, ESV), “wild celebrations or partying” (ISV), and “carousing” (NASB). The original Greek word, komos, carries the connotation of “letting loose.” When people “go wild,” they are engaging in “revellings.”

In Galatians 5, Paul warns the churches of Galatia to put away all “works of the flesh,” including sexual sins, sins of hateful attitudes toward others, and the sins of “drunkenness” and “revellings.” Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast, Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those who have come to Christ in faith for forgiveness of sins have the Holy Spirit within them, and He is the planter and cultivator of divine fruit. Those without Christ and the Spirit exhibit the works of the flesh, including drunken revellings.

Does this mean that all parties are off limits? Not at all. But parties characterized by gluttony, immoderate drinking, lewdness, or out-of-control behavior of any kind are antithetical to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Christian avoids “revellings.” He sees the works of the flesh as less and less appealing and the fruit of the Spirit more and more desirable. The heart, once touched by the Spirit, no longer enjoys the works of the flesh as it did before, and the longing for such works diminishes. Paul’s sober warning that those who indulge in the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God should not be taken lightly.

The apostle Peter takes up the same theme in his first letter. He makes it clear that revellings and other fleshly sins are characteristic of past behavior. Those who now follow Christ have a different lifestyle. “You have spent enough time in the past” doing that, he says (1 Peter 4:3). Now your former party-mates “are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living” (verse 4). And that’s what “revellings” are—reckless and wild.

The line is drawn between the behavior of a Christian and that of a non-Christian. Christ calls us to “to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12).

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What are revellings in the Bible?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022