The Greek word koʹmos means “revel, carousal, merrymaking.” It occurs three times in the Christian Greek Scriptures (Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21; 1 Pet. 4:3) and always in a bad or unfavorable sense. J. H. Thayer’s Lexicon points out that in ancient Greek writings it applied to “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 deity [or a victor in the games], and sing and play before the houses of their male and female friends.” Such licentious and intemperate conduct, with street processions that were similar to modern carnival celebrations in certain lands, were common in Greek cities of the apostles’ time. So warning counsel on this was appropriate and beneficial for true worshipers.
Revelries were definitely not for Christians; they were condemned by God’s Word. Before they became Christians some of those to whom Peter wrote his letter, residents in Greek-influenced provinces in Asia Minor (1 Pet. 1:1), “proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries.” But upon becoming Christians they ceased such things. (1 Pet. 4:3, 4) With its gross sensuality and dissolution, a revelry was a ‘work belonging to darkness’ in which Christians would not walk.—Rom. 13:12-14.
The Bible does not rule out joy and merriment. Man is told to rejoice in his Creator, the husband to rejoice in his wife, the laborer in the work of his hands and the farmer in the fruit of his toil. (Ps. 32:11; Prov. 5:18; Eccl. 3:22; Deut. 26:10, 11) Food and drink can accompany and contribute to rejoicing (Eccl. 9:7; Ps. 104:15), yet moderation should prevail. (Prov. 23:20; 1 Tim. 3:2, 11; 1 Cor. 10:31) Carrying merrymaking to the point of intoxication and scenes of disorder and sensuality would amount to reveling. Paul included revelries among the “works of the flesh,” the practicers of which would “not inherit God’s kingdom.”—Gal. 5:19-21.