What Kind of Wine Did Jesus Drink?

Is this true that Jesus drank alcoholic wine as the lyrics, “Cause I heard Jesus, He drank wine”? Some Christians question this. What kind of wine did Jesus drink? Did Jesus drink intoxicating amounts of wine? By the reading of Scripture in the original language, scholarship presents that Jesus did not drink or make wine like today’s more alcoholic wine. What kind of wine did Jesus drink?

Many have assumed that the word “wine” in the Bible is always alcoholic or equivalent to modern wine. The Bible affirms that “wine” could mean alcoholic wine of varying amounts or non-alcoholic grape juice (1 Tim 3:8; Titus 2:3).

Remember the Bible was originally written in other languages, so the meaning and nuances of words are slightly or very different from the corresponding English word. Biblical “wine” is grape juice that may or may not have 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:

  • “Wine” is the blood of the grape (Gen 49:11–12, Heb. yayin, Deut 32:14, Heb chemer).
  • The vineyard is the place of “red wine” (Isa 27:2, Heb. chemer).
  • “Wine” refers to the grape juice from the grapes of the field (Deut 11:14, 2 Chr 31:5, Heb tirosh, Jer 40:10, 12, Heb. yayin).
  • Scripture describes “wine” that is in the grape (Isa 65:8, Heb. tirosh).
  • The grape juice of the wine-press is “wine” (Prov 3:10, Heb. tirosh, Isa 16:10, Jer 48:33, Heb. yayin).

These references clearly show that the word “wine” can simply refer to grape juice in the Bible.

In reading the Old Testament, many are surprised that the Bible versions represent six different Hebrew words “wine” for which two words exclude alcohol. These are asis means “sweet grape juice” or “new grape juice,” and another word hemer simply means “grape juice.” Both words have no reference to alcohol, and yet translators interpret these words as “wine” to avoid interpreting the contexts with its nuances and ambiguity. Therefore, one must remain careful not to assume that the word “wine” means alcoholic wine. [1] [2]

With an honest heart, may God’s grace encourage all believers to reconsider biblical wine. With the previous knowledge, a study of the Scriptures reveal that there is not one positive statement about intoxicating wine or any such drink throughout the Bible. There are positive words about non-alcoholic “wine” that many people presume to encourage the use of intoxicating wine. However, these positive passages of grape juice do not necessitate a reference to alcohol in any way (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). References to the translations of “strong drink” or “liquor” may also refer to today’s cider (cf. Deut 14:26; Wycliffe’s Bible).

There are many today professing a faith in Jesus who look to Jesus’s drinking of wine to support their excessive drinking. By God’s grace, God has saved Christians from excessive drinking (1 Pet 4:3). Therefore, may every Christian remain very careful. Many are delivering destructive reasons to their brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with alcohol so that they justify giving into excessive drinking. The consequences may be disastrous and extensive even to death. The Christian approach to alcohol is not to judge or condemn the person who may drink without excess and drunkenness, but the Christian must follow the biblical examples and warn those who do drink and linger over the cup (Prov 23:29–35; Rom 14:17–22).

Bible Wine and Today’s Wine

In the Bible, alcoholic wine is not like wine today. The sugar of grape juice can only ferment to 3 or 4% alcohol with wild yeast. For grape juice to exceed 4% alcohol, then the winemaker must add yeast. The yeast added to ancient wines produced between 4–10% alcohol. Alcohol kills these yeast cells and prevents levels of alcohol from exceeding 10%. Today, wines average 12–18% alcohol due to modern fermentation by adding sulfur dioxide and Saccharomyces (a cultured GMO yeast) to a late harvest of ripened grapes with higher fructose (Winemaker Magazine, UC DavisInternational Biblical Encyclopedia, “Bible Study Guide,” “Alcohol in the Church,” Bible Wine). Today’s wine is not like biblical wine in regards to alcoholic content. Due to the later invention of distilling, strong drinks like liquor exceed 20% alcohol.

When reading the word “wine” in the Bible, the word may simply refer to grape juice or intoxicating wine not exceeding 10% alcohol. However, biblical wine is certainly not like wine today. Because of the use of the word “wine” in English Bibles, many presume that Jesus drank alcoholic wine. Again, the Greek word oinos can refer to grape juice that is either alcoholic or nonalcoholic wine throughout the Bible. The context reveals whether wine is alcoholic or not. Jesus did not drink modern wine. The methods for fermenting highly-alcoholic wine had not yet been invented.

Jesus’s opponents accused Him of being a “wine-drinker” from the Greek oinopoteis, because He came freely eating and also drinking grape juice unlike John the Baptist who restricted his eating and drinking (Matt 11:18–19; Luke 7:33–34). These antagonists appear to accuse Jesus of drinking alcohol. However, when the reader considers the wedding that Jesus attended in Cana and Jesus’s institution of the Lord’s Supper, then His drinking of wine is not what many think.

Water to Wine

What about Jesus turning water to wine? Many are mistaken to think that Jesus turned water into intoxicating wine at the wedding in Cana, a small town in Galilee (John 2). One must assume this “wine,” oinos, was alcoholic.

These scriptures infers that the wedding guests “have well drunk” a large amount of oinos, which the Greek word translated “well drunk” is methuo meaning literally to fill or make full. This word is also the word translated “drunk” referring to drunkenness by drinking intoxicating wine or filling oneself with nonalcoholic wine (Gingrich and Danker’s lexicon). Which is more likely: that Jesus created intoxicating wine for those who were drunk or that He made fresh “new wine” for those who had filled themselves with the previous nonalcoholic wine? If one interprets this passage as Jesus made alcoholic wine, then Jesus created more intoxicating wine to those who were already drunk. If one perceives that the wedding guests were simply full of nonalcoholic wine, then Jesus made “new wine” with little or no alcohol. The reference to the guests becoming full also implies that the wedding feast was relatively short.

Furthermore, consider that Jesus provided them with “new wine” as though deliver from the pressing of grapes. The making of new wine magnifies Jesus’s sign, because this was just before the Passover and the first harvest. Jesus could not have made intoxicating wine at the wedding feast in Cana. The reference to Jesus’s wine as “good wine” indicates fresh grape juice before the first harvest. Therefore, Jesus’s producing of fresh grape juice would have been an evident wonder of God, because this was late in the year just before Passover when old wine remained (John 2:13).

This wedding feast would have occurred in a short amount of time if one assumes that the guests drank intoxicating wine and became drunk; although, wedding feasts may last a day and sometimes more (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah). By supposing intoxicating wine, Jesus would have made more intoxicating wine amounting to between 120 to 180 gallons of “the good wine.” If there were three hundred people there to drink another 150 gallons, these would have already each had much alcoholic wine considering that “the guests have well drunk.” Jesus would have given each guest an additional 64 ounces of alcoholic wine. The average person would have drunk another 4–6 drinks of alcoholic wine. Jesus would have poisoned a wedding party of three hundred attendants from the toxin of ethyl alcohol, and the guests would had been vomiting and passing out.

Now, consider a wedding party of a thousand guests. If one thousand people drank one hundred and fifty gallons of fermented wine that Jesus supposedly made, then the average amount of wine consumed by each person would have been 19.2 ounces of wine having previously well drunk. Presuming that this wine contained 10% alcohol, Jesus would have aided a thousand people in binge drinking having intoxicated the guests with three additional drinks who were already intoxicated — “have well drunk.” For each guest to have had simply two more drinks, then the wedding would have had at least 2,400 attendees. Despite the number in attendance, Jesus would have presumably contributed a considerable amount alcohol to those who were already drunk. The scenario of Jesus producing alcoholic wine appears irrational.

If Jesus did make a great amount of fermented wine, He would had aided the sin of drunkenness, excessive drinking, and participated in a drinking party, which are all condemned by His Spirit in the apostolic Scriptures (1 Pet 4:3). To assume that Jesus made intoxicating wine is to assume that after everyone had drunk all the other intoxicating wine, then they needed more intoxicating wine and Jesus was the person to do this. For those proposing that Jesus made highly intoxicating wine like today’s wine, 16–24 oz. of today’s wine would intoxicate anyone at an alcoholic level of 12–15% according to the CDC. Such intoxicating wine would have been an absurdity at this wedding.

Wine and the Lord’s Supper

Did Jesus use alcoholic wine in the Lord’s Supper? Many have justified excessive drinking and drunkenness by how many churches have made alcoholic wine a part of the “Eucharist,” the Lord’s Supper. Did Jesus use highly alcoholic wine when He instituted the Lord’s Supper? No, the Scriptures never use the word “wine” in any of the four accounts of Christ instituting the Lord’s Supper. Jesus mentioned the specific content of the cup containing “the fruit of the grapevine.” Alcoholic wine has no reference in Scripture to the Lord’s Supper. The Greek word for “wine” is never used in Scripture to describe any part of the Lord’s Supper. Many have again presumed that Jesus used alcoholic wine in the Lord’s Supper for their own purposes of justifying their use of wine according to Jesus’s use.

Furthermore, Jesus used unleavened bread because it was the time of the Passover, which is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They threw out all leaven by God’s command including the leavened bread. Did throwing out the yeast mean that Israel must throw out the yeast, the bread with yeast, and yet leave the grape juice yeast? The reader should consider the removing of yeast in Exodus 13:6–7.

When Jesus used “fruit of the grapevine” in the Lord’s Supper, the only possible fermentation would be between 0–4% because of wild yeast after a week of exposure. If one assumed this was alcoholic wine, then the highest level of alcohol could reach 4%. When Jesus used “the fruit of the grapevine,” then the reader may find that this cup would have been nonalcoholic or never exceeded 4% alcohol. The intent of the cup of the Lord was not to intoxicate.

What about those who got drunk over the Lord’s Supper within the Bible? This is another misconception from the use of the Greek word methuo, which can mean drunk or filled. Remember that this is word from the Wedding Feast recorded in John 2. First Corinthians 11:21–22 depicts, “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk [methuo].” Some ate the Lord’s Supper as a meal so that they were filled, and those who drank were also filled. If one still assumes that these Christians became drunk in the assembly using the grape juice for the Lord’s Supper, then they must also presume that those drinking brought enough intoxicating wine to get drunk and yet intended to use such for the Lord’s Supper. This implies that some of these Christians brought alcoholic wine for others, and they decided to simply drink that wine in assembly rather than wait for others. However, alcoholic wine is still an assumption. First Corinthians 11 is not a conclusive source to support the assertion that the Lord’s Supper consisted of intoxicating wine.

Warnings about Wine

As the Scriptures warn against wine, Christians must also warn against the use of such alcohol. Solomon warned by the wisdom of God,

Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. (Prov 23:31–33)

Therefore, “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov 20:1). There is not one positive statement about alcohol in the Bible. The New Testament teaches that Christians are not to walk in drunkenness filling themselves with alcohol. The misuse of the word “wine” has become the means for many to presume that God is permissive of the excessive drinking of alcohol to some level of intoxication. By the word “wine,” many try to justify the sins of drunkenness and excessive drinking.

The Greek word translated “drunkenness” literally means “filling oneself” in Scripture (Eph 5:18–19; cf. Rom 13:13). Christ’s Spirit in Galatians 5:19–21 teaches that such “drunkenness” is a “work of the flesh” and “those who are doing such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5 also condemned “wild parties” or “revelries” where any of the list of sins like drunkenness would constitute a party as sinful and carnal. Christ also reveals in 1 Corinthians 6:10 that drunkards “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Drunkenness and filling one’s body with intoxicants is a sin.

Filling oneself with alcohol is evil and compromises the sobriety of the Christian conscience — one’s heart (Rom 2:14–15; 1 John 3:19–21). Christ’s words and those of His Apostles and prophets urge all to reconsider, and so Christians should do likewise. First Peter 4:3 warns, “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Nations want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness [lit. excessive drinking], orgies, drinking parties [lit. drinkings], and lawless idolatry.” The word for “drunkenness” here is not the usually word for drunkenness in Greek, but this word is oinophlugia made of two words oinos meaning “wine” and phlugia is “to do something in excess.” Excessive drinking is a sin. Do not overlook the reference to drinking parties translated from the Greek word potos, which denotes occasions for drinking.

Followers of Christ must remain sober and make no provision to become drunk on any level (1 Thess 5:8). Christians cannot participate in events that meet and center around drinking (1 Pet 4:3). Christ had no part with drunkenness and drinking parties, so His followers must not. While Christians should not condemn their brother over a drink, every Christian has the scriptural example and the foresight to warn against its use and against looking at the cup (Prov 23:29–35; Rom 14:17–22).


The wine that Jesus drank was not intoxicating any more than grape juice with no more than 4% alcohol. Jesus neither encouraged drunkenness nor is He recorded to have used intoxicating wine. Anyone using alcohol based upon Jesus must reconsider their position. If anyone uses Jesus to justify excessive drinking, drunkenness, and drinking events, then let that person hear this plea to rethink their views according to the words and life of Christ. The reality is that the Bible neither promotes nor supports the drinking of intoxicants. God’s grace compels Christians to no longer continue any sin because they have been forgiven.

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies 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. (Rom 13:13–14)

Of Wine and Wineskins

Wine in the Lord’s Supper?

Is Drinking a Sin in the Bible?

Reconsider Being Biblically Drunk

About Scott Shifferd Jr.

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Christ, Church of Christ and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

496 Responses to What Kind of Wine Did Jesus Drink?

  1. James Barron says:

    Melanie I thought you were going to unsubscribe from this site because you believe those who disagree with you and Scott about drinking real wine are “fake Christians.” I believe the scripture clearly teaches that Jesus made real wine, with alcohol, for the wedding celebration of that couple in Cana that day. So do most believers. Are we all “fake Christians” who believe the scripture teaches this? Are those who believe Jesus made real wine, with alcohol, in Cana that day living a lifestyle of sin? This is what I mean by you not having a clue. It’s not about the pros and cons of drinking real wine. This is all about what the scripture teaches. The scripture teaches that drinking real wine, with alcohol, is not a sin. Jesus made real wine, with alcohol, to celebrate the marriage of that young couple in Cana. The scripture teaches that excess drinking that leads to drunkeness is a sin. The scripture teaches that those who enjoy real wine, with alcohol, in moderation are not sinning.


    • melanie says:

      I did unsubscribe, that does not mean I am unable to post comments. Obviously you do not know the difference. If you read this entire article carefully, without bias, you would have realized why drinking alcohol is not a all scriptural as you calm. I used to believe as most Christians do that alcohol is acceptable and scriptural but research has taught me otherwise. Those who want to drink will not be persuaded by anything and will refuse to learn. To answer your question ,yes all of those Christians who drink and condone drink are fake and sinful. Many are called but few are chosen and just because
      Most Christians do something, does not make them right. The majority are seldom right. The scripture is clear when it tells us not to look at wine when it is red and when it moveth itself aright. We are not to look at it much less drink it. You believe as you choose, because as I said, most will never learn and will do just as they please.


  2. Deborah says:

    In Matthew 11:19, Jesus condemns the Pharisees because they said John the Baptist, who was famous for fasting from food and drink, must have had a demon. He condemns them again because He Himself came both eating and drinking, and they called Him “a glutton and a winebibber”. Thus He incidentally confirms that He did drink celebratory, alcoholic wine, though He was pointing out that the Pharisees oppose God in all of His messengers.

    In light of this passage, all can rest content. The one who made the way for the Lord, did not drink. The One Who Is the Lord did. Both are okay decisions.

    However, also in light of this passage, I think some real mental gymnastics would have to be employed to deny that Jesus was describing Himself as someone who at times both feasted and drank alcoholic wine.

    His apostles and disciples did condemn drunkenness. Jesus also did fast frequently. But I can’t see saying He didn’t drink alcoholic wine at all. And the Wedding Feast at Cana, if it was a traditional Jewish wedding of the time, lasted a week, not a day. Plenty of time to run out of wine without anyone being drunk, and a huge humiliation for the hosts if in the middle of the week, there was no more wine to serve, since it was commonly taken at meals (though weakened with water) and celebrations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rudy Schellekens says:

      I don’t do Facebook (For a number of reasons), so I cannot “like” you through that medium. So: I do appreciate your reasoned response!


  3. seattlebruce says:

    Big assumptions here Deborah. They accused John of having a demon, and he clearly did not. They accused Jesus of being a glutton and wine bibber, and He clearly was not. We know he sat with the sinners and tax collectors. Did He sin? Of course not. Did He drink wine? Perhaps. Did he drink to excess? Of course not (that would have been sinful.) Did he drink fermented wine? Perhaps, but wine of that day didn’t have the modern fermenting process that can boost alcohol content to 12-18%. How fermented? Probably not much at all. Even grape juice has a slight amount of fermentation. Fermented wine of the day somewhat more, say 3% (if you look at the history of fermentation.)

    What are we left to conclude? We know that Jesus did not sin, nor tempt others to sin. God does not tempt us. Our own flesh and lust tempt us and we get carried away in that (James 1). We also know, in looking at the Bible to confirm itself, and its teachings/instructions from God, that God tells us through Paul, (Romans 14:22): “Whatever you believe about these things [discussing eating and drinking freedoms], keep between yourself and God.” Jesus must not have been doing anything that was inflammatory, nor problematic for weaker brothers and sisters, perhaps taking some sips from a common table/meal wine that was only slightly fermented. Certainly not to excess. Whatever Jesus did or didn’t drink, we know He didn’t drink too much, or tempt his followers by even appearing to drink too much. He sat with the sinners and tax collectors – that He did. And when He did that and had a few sips of wine with a meal, ‘they’ accused him, completely falsely of being a glutton and wine bibber. Just like they completely falsely accused John the Baptist of being possessed by a demon.

    Completely false, completely fallacious. And Jesus didn’t sin, nor did he tempt His weaker brothers and sisters, and kept that freedom between Himself and God – meaning, imho, He didn’t drink much at all, or even as much as He maybe could have. No, His concern was for the Kingdom, and for the sinners, not setting some tone for wine drinking for the 1st half of the 21st Century Christians to justify all sorts of wine drinking, wine events at church, keggers in the parking lot and so forth. Such excess Jesus was not party to.

    I choose to want to be like Jesus!


    • Rudy Schellekens says:

      Drinking wine is not sin! What does it take for you to understand that? You make an illogical jump from a glass of wine to keggers! That is like making the jump from breakfast to gluttony.
      The question has never been quantity, ” He didn’t drink much at all, or even as much as He maybe could have…” The question has always been: Is it a sin to drink anything with alcohol content.
      We know that drinking too much is sin, as is eating too much. We are really good at telling people to eat in moderation, but when it comes to drinking a glass of wine with my meal, or after my meal, or before I go to bed (Note: NOT and, but or situation, before you jump again), all of the sudden I am accused of excess and organizing keggers!
      You wrote, “And when He did that and had a few sips of wine with a meal, ‘they’ accused him, completely falsely of being a glutton and wine bibber…” You have absolutely no foundation whatsoever for this statement. Or in your words, this statement is “Completely false, completely fallacious..”
      I do not know, YOU do not know, Scott, Debora, or anyone else on this list has a clue about quantities. I know, and you SHOULD know, that it was “in moderation.”
      And again, in your own words, “I choose to want to be like Jesus…”


      • seattlebruce says:

        Rudy – I never said drinking wine is/was a sin. Why are you waving your arms around about that? Drinking wine in excess is sinful. We also know Jesus didn’t lead others down the path of sin; He did not tempt them to overdrink. And we know He was consistent with the teaching of other Scripture like Romans 14:22, so Jesus was careful about wine, we can surmise.

        What do you mean the question is not quantity? It surely is if you are interested in not sinning; in not being drunk, in not being a drunk.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rudy Schellekens says:

          A number of comments on this thread have made it clear, Melanie (SP?) being the latest one. Even going so far as to call those of us who differ with her opinion “Fake Christians.”
          There have been those who claimed that a) Jesus would never make “real” wine (i.e. with alcohol content) and that therefore b) the “wine” in John 2 was no more than very good grape juice.
          We all (At least I think we do) agree that drunkenness is sin. But that should never lead us to forcing meaning into texts (As listed above) which are just plain not there.
          Seattlebruce’s contention yesterday, “He didn’t drink much at all, or even as much as He maybe could have…” is making the Bible say things which cannot be deduced nor “inferred,” necessarily or not. His “And when He did that and had a few sips of wine with a meal…” too, is going way beyond the Biblical text.


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