Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 6, 1958
NUMBER 39, PAGE 3a,10b


Paul Brock, Dyersburg, Tennessee

"Annual Reveler's Ball." This was a headline on the society page of a Memphis newspaper late in December. I read the article to find out what the revelers were to do. The major attraction was dining and dancing. Many readers remember Paul's statement that they who practice such shall not inherit the kingdom of God. "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these revelings and such like; of which I forewarn you, that they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Gal. 5:19-21) We sometimes use the word revel in a figurative sense, but in this article it is used in the sense in which the apostle uses it.

Revelings Defined

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines the word revel: "To be festive in a riotous or noisy manner."

Webster's New International Dictionary: "A merry or noisy celebration of a feast, wedding, or the like; also plural, the entertainment provided, as dances, pageants and MASQUES."

Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon, on Kosmos (the word translated revelry) says: "A jovial festivity with music and DANCING, a revel, carousal, merry making." (As quoted by Cecil Wright in, "Is Dancing Compatible with Christianity?")

Thayer's Greek English Lexicon of The New Testament, on Kosmos: " — a nocturnal and riotous procession of half-drunken and frolicsome fellows who after supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honor of Bacchus or some other diety, and sing and play before the houses of their male and female friends; hence used generally of FEASTS AND DRINKING-PARTIES THAT ARE PROTRACTED TILL LATE AT NIGHT AND INDULGE IN REVELRY: plur. (revelings): Rom. 13:3."

The definition of the term shows the reveler to be characterized by lack of restrain and self control, emotionally excited, loud, boisterous and noisy. These usually possess the captive at night and continue on occasions until early morning hours.

Use In Other Passages Two other passages are cited in which the same word is found. They are Rom. 13:13 and I Pet. 4:3 "Let us walk becomingly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy." (Rom. 13:13) Of this the Expositor's Greek Testament says: "The plurals in this case as in the others would indicate the various acts or manifestations of excess, whether in self-indulgence or self-will."

"For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, wine-bibbings, revelings, carousings, and abominable idolatries." (1 Pet. 4:3) In specifying sins such as works of the flesh, things related are usually grouped together. This being true it is significant to note the catalog of iniquity in which reveling falls.

Who Are Revelers?

When we think of the term reveling the immediate thought is that of the modern dance, but is there not more in the term than dancing? According to the definition by Thayer, those who keep late hours with feasts and drinking parties are guilty of reveling. Surely no one would say it is sinful to eat the proper amount at any hour to relieve hunger. This however is quite different from a "procession" or "group" meeting to feast and who eat to excess, and who become loud and boisterous, and who are lacking in self-control and restraint. Adam Clarke in commenting on Rom. 13:13 says: "Kosmos, rioting — unclean and dissolute songs, banquets, and such like." On Gal. 5:21, Clarke says of this word, "Lascivious feastings, with obscene songs, music etc." No one can doubt that much of the music of this day is of the above stated nature. When Christians meet together in any kind of social affair they should take care lest they be led to become guilty of this sin. Christians always want to avoid excesses (even in things right and abstain in all wrong), obscenity, and boisterousness.

We must conclude from the definitions that reveling would not of necessity always include dancing, but without exception the modern dance must be classed as revelry. Many have concluded that dancing is not condemned in the Bible because it does not say, "Thou shalt not dance" or "The dancer sins and will be lost." What the dancer overlooks is that dancing is revelry. They which do such "shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Dancing is reveling. Reveling is a work of the flesh. Those who engage in works of the flesh cannot go to heaven.

Many Things Worse

Sometimes people seek to excuse themselves from a particular sin by declaring something else to be worse. It might not be difficult to find something mentioned in Galatians five, worse than some forms of reveling. But it must be remembered that all works of the flesh are condemned. Some are not condemned as greater than others but all are condemned and "they who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Finding something worse or finding some other Christian guilty of some similar sin does not remove the guilt from anyone.

Walk After The Spirit And Not After The Flesh

Honest Christians have no difficulty in drawing the line. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that you cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are no under the law." (Gal. 5:16-18); If we are led by the Spirit the works of the flesh will be avoided. If led by the Spirit we bear the fruits of the Spirit. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Gal. 5:22-23)

The apostle further adds: "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." (Gal. 5:24-25) Christians who have crucified the lusts of the flesh and who have put to death evil desires have no trouble avoiding the works of the flesh. They will not be guilty of reveling, nor any of the "such like."