Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

Verse 18 (Ephesians 5:18)

Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess - This is a farther allusion to the Bacchanalian mysteries; in them his votaries got drunk, and ran into all manner of excesses. Plato, though he forbade drunkenness in general, yet allowed that the people should get drunk in the solemnities of that god who invented wine. And indeed this was their common custom; when they had offered their sacrifices they indulged themselves in drunkenness, and ran into all kinds of extravagance. Hence it is probable that μεθυω , to get drunk, is derived from μετα , after, and θυω , to sacrifice; for, having completed their sacrifices, they indulged themselves in wine. The word ασωτια , which we translate excess, means profligacy and debauchery of every kind; such as are the general concomitants of drunkenness, and especially among the votaries of Bacchus in Greece and Italy.

But be filled with the Spirit - The heathen priests pretended to be filled with the influence of the god they worshipped; and it was in these circumstances that they gave out their oracles. See a remarkable instance of this quoted in the note on Luke 9:39 ; (note), where the case of a Bacchanalian is described. The apostle exhorts the Ephesians not to resemble these, but, instead of being filled with wine, to be filled with the Spirit of God; in consequence of which, instead of those discoveries of the Divine will to which in their drunken worship the votaries of Bacchus pretended, they should be wise indeed, and should understand what the will of the Lord is.

- Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible