What is reveling in the Bible?
A revel is a wild party. Revelry or reveling (also spelled revelling) is participation in a noisy, often drunken celebration. In 2 Peter 2:13, reveling means "engaging in self-indulgence." Peter warns about false teachers who have infiltrated the church: "They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you."
Reveling, from a different Greek word as used in 2 Peter 2:13, is also mentioned in Romans 13:13: "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in revelling and drunkenness" (ERV). Galatians 5:21 (KJV) lists "revellings" among the works of the flesh that characterize those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. First Peter 4:3 speaks of "lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, parties, and abominable idolatries" (AKJV) as part of the old life, before we were saved. Other translations use words like carousing, orgies, and wild parties in these verses. In ancient Greek culture, a revel was a group of partiers who paraded through the streets after dinner, drunk and unruly, singing and playing instruments in honor of a deity, usually Bacchus. The biblical word revelings refers to rowdy, disorderly parties that go late into the night and consist of drinking, feasting, and other bad behavior.
The general idea of reveling, as it is used in the Bible, is always negative. For example, Romans 13:13–14 says, "Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies [reveling] and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." Here reveling implies out-of-control behaviors that usually accompany intoxication, partying, and unbridled lust.
Reveling, as discussed in the Bible, is always fleshly, whereas the joy of the Lord is spiritual (Nehemiah 8:10). Reveling arises from a human nature out of control; joyful expression arises from the spirit under God's control (Acts 2:4; 4:31). Reveling requires alcohol or drugs to fuel its passions; spiritual ecstasy is fueled by the power of Almighty God in a surrendered heart (Luke 4:18; 2 Chronicles 20:14–15; Revelation 1:10). The Bible's condemnation of reveling does not imply that all times of enjoyment, laughter, and fun are sinful. God created us with a sense of humor and wants us to enjoy the life He has given us (1 Timothy 6:17; James 1:17). But enjoyment must never cross the line into debauchery. We are to be self-controlled, even while having fun (Ephesians 5:18).
Reveling does not appeal to a Christian filled with the Spirit of God. Those with God's perspective see reveling as foolish, immature, and not at all enjoyable. The wise know that many mistakes with lifelong consequences are made during seasons of reveling; whereas pleasant, God-honoring memories are made during seasons of godly joy. Reveling belongs to the world's system; joyful satisfaction belongs to those in God's kingdom (1 John 2:15–17; Acts 13:52; Galatians 5:22–23). Reveling may have been an expression of our old nature before coming to Christ, but it should never be part of our new life in Him (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
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