Many have presumed as the lyrics go, “Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine”, that Jesus drank alcoholic wine and even indulged in drinking intoxicating amounts of wine. What kind of wine did Jesus drink? By the reading of scripture in the original language, scholarship presents that Jesus did not drink or make wine like today’s distilled wine. How can this be? Most assume that the word “wine” in the Bible is always alcoholic or equivalent to modern wine. The Bible does that clearly show that “wine” could mean alcoholic wine or non-alcoholic grape juice (1 Tim. 3:8, Titus 2:3). What kind of wine did Jesus drink?
Remember the Bible was originally written in other languages, so the meaning and nuances of words are slightly different. Biblical “wine” is grape juice that may or may not be fermented. Both in Hebrew and Greek, the words translated “wine” can refer to non-alcoholic juice or fermented wine. The Hebrew word is yayin, and the Greek is oinos. There are a number of examples of unfermented “wine”. Note the passages and references to non-alcoholic wine throughout the Bible:
- The blood of the grape is called “wine” (Gen. 49:11-12, Heb. yayin, Deut. 32:14, Heb. chemer).
- The vineyard is described to consist of “red wine” (Isa. 27:2, Heb. chemer).
- The grape juice from the grapes of the field is called “wine” (Deut. 11:14, 2 Chron. 31:5, Heb. tirosh, Jer. 40:10, 12, Heb. yayin).
- Wine is mentioned to be in the grape (Isa. 65:8, Heb. tirosh).
- The grape juice of the wine-press is called “wine” too (Prov. 3:10, Heb. tirosh, Isa. 16:10, Jer. 48:33, Heb. yayin).
These references clearly show that wine can simply refer to grape juice. In reading the Old Testament, many would be surprised that there are 6 different Hebrew words that are translated “wine” for which two words, asis means “sweet grape juice” or “new grape juice” while another word, hemer, simply means “grape juice”, which both words have no reference to alcohol and yet these words are translated “wine”. Therefore, be careful not to assume that the word “wine” means alcoholic wine. (Read more ). With this knowledge, there is clearly not one positive statement about intoxicating wine or any such drink throughout the Bible. There are positive words about non-alcoholic “wine”, which many people presume to encourage the use of intoxicating wine. Yet, these positive passages of grape juice do not necessitate any way a reference to alcohol (Gen. 14:18, Num. 15:5-10, Deut. 14:26, Psa. 104:15, Isa. 55:1, Amos 9:14, John 2:1-11, 1 Tim. 5:23).