What Kind of Wine Did Jesus Drink?

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 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”. 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 another source. [1]).

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”, which many people presume to encourage the use of intoxicating wine. Yet, 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).

There are many today professing a faith in Jesus, who look to His drinking of wine to support their excessive drinking. By the grace of God, Christians have been saved from excessive drinking (1 Pet. 4:3). Therefore, be very careful. Jesus’ drinking of wine is presumed to be drinking alcoholic wine according to the occurrence of the word “wine”, Again, grape juice is either alcoholic or nonalcoholic wine throughout the Bible depending on the context. Jesus never drunk distilled wine. Distilling wine had not yet been invented. Actually, Jesus was accused of being a “wine-drinker” from the Greek oinopoteis, because He came freely eating and drinking grape juice unlike John the Baptist, who restricted his eating and drinking (Matt. 11:18-19, Luke 7:33-34). Yet, when we consider the wedding that Jesus attended in Cana, Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper, and Jesus’ life, then Jesus’ drinking of wine is not what many think.

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 would have to assume this “wine”, oinos, was alcoholic when oinos generally means grape juice referring to either alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine. The Scripture infers that the wedding guests “have well drunk” a large amount of oinos, which the Greek word translated “well drunk” is methuo, which literally means filled. This word means drunk for drinking intoxicating wine and filled with nonalcoholic wine (Thayer’s Lexicon).

Consider the whole wedding and assume that Jesus intentionally made fermented wine consisting of about 10% alcohol. If the wine was alcoholic and these had become drunk, then this wedding feast would have been in a short amount of time although wedding feasts usually last a day and sometimes more (The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah). Supposing intoxicating wine, Jesus would have made more intoxicating wine amounting to between 120 to 180 gallons of “the good wine”. If there were 300 people there to drink an additional 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 an additional 4-6 drinks of alcoholic wine. This wedding party of 300 would have been poisoned from the toxin of ethyl alcohol, and the guests would had been vomiting and passing out. Then, let us consider a wedding party of 1,000 guests. If 1,000 people drank of 150 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 in addition to having well drunk. Presuming that this wine contained 10% alcohol, Jesus would have aided 1,000 people in binge drinking having intoxicated the guests with 3 additional drinks after already “have well drunk”. For each guest to have had simply 2 drinks, then the wedding would have had at least 2,400 attendees. Yet, everyone of these would have still felt the intoxicating effects of alcoholic wine.

If Jesus did make a great amount of fermented wine, He would had aided the sin of drunkenness, excessive drinking, and a drinking party, which are all condemned as sins by Christ and His Spirit. If Jesus made intoxicating wine, Jesus would have turned this wedding into be a drinking party, when His Spirit teaches against drinking parties in 1 Peter 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 of the better intoxicating wine and Jesus was the man to do it. For those proposing that Jesus made highly intoxicating wine like today’s wine, 16-24 oz. of today’s distilled 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 as much as simply fermented wine. Jesus could not have made intoxicating wine at the wedding feast in Cana.

In the Bible, alcoholic wine was limited in content and is not like wine today. The sugar of grape juice can only ferment to 3% alcohol. For grape juice to exceed 3% alcohol, then yeast must be added. The yeast added to ancient wines produced between 4-10% alcohol. Alcohol kills yeast cells and prevents levels of alcohol from exceeding 10%. Today, wines average 12-15% alcohol due to distilling that was invented centuries after the Bible was completed (UC Davis, International Biblical Encyclopedia, “Bible Study Guide“, “Alcohol in the Church“, Bible Wine, Winemaker Magazine). Today’s wine is not Biblical wine in regards to alcoholic content. Due to distilling, strong drinks like liquor exceed 20% alcohol. When we read the word “wine” in the Bible, it may be simply grape juice or intoxicating wine never exceeding 10%, but certainly not like wine today.

The misuse of the word “wine” has become the means for many to presume that the excessive drinking of  alcohol to some level of intoxication is permissible behavior with God. By the word “wine”, many try to justify the sins of drunkenness and excessive drinking. The Bible warns about the temptations of wine. Solomon wrote 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” (Proverb 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). The Scriptures are clear about drinking intoxicating drinks. There is not one positive statement about alcohol in the Bible.

The New Testament clearly teaches that Christians are not to walk in drunkenness filling themselves with alcohol. The Greek word translated drunkenness literally means “filling oneself” (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.” 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 being harmful to the sobriety of the Christian conscience embedding in one’s heart (1 John 3:19-21).

Christ’s words and those of His Apostles and prophets urge us to reconsider. First Peter 4:3 says,

“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 it is oinophlugia made of two words oinos meaning wine and phlugia is to do something in excess. Excessive drinking is a sin. Again, do not overlook the reference here to drinking parties. This is the word potos, which denotes occasions for drinking. This is any occasion where excessive drinking is permitted. This would include more than bars and drinking parties such as out-of-control athletic events and wild house parties turned into occasions of drinking. Christians being followers of Christ must be sober and make no provision to be drunk on any level (1 Thess. 5:8). Christians cannot be a part of events meeting and centered around drinking. Christ had no part with drunkenness and drinking parties, so His followers must not.

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, He did not even use the word “wine”. See, 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. People have again presumed that Jesus used alcoholic wine in the Lord’s Supper for their own purposes. Jesus mentioned the specific content of the cup containing “the fruit of the grapevine”. On top of all of this, Jesus used unleavened bread because it was the time of the Passover when all leaven was thrown out. It is absurd to think that God meant that Israel throw out the yeast, the bread with yeast, but leave the grape juice fermented by leaven (Exo. 13:6-7). Throwing out the yeast included that all of Israel threw out leavened grape juice, which is intoxicating wine. Since “fruit of the grapevine” was unleavened in the Lord’s Supper, then the only possible fermentation would be between 0-3%. If one assumed this to be alcoholic wine, then the highest level of alcohol could only reach 3%. When Jesus used “the fruit of the grapevine”, then this cup would have been nonalcoholic or never exceeded 3% alcohol. The intent of the cup of the Lord was not to intoxicate.

The wine that Jesus drank cannot be assumed to be intoxicating or any more than grape juice with no more than 3% alcohol. Jesus neither encouraged drunkenness nor is He recorded to have used intoxicating wine. Many need to reconsider their position on drinking alcohol based upon Jesus. If anyone has been using 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 does not support the drinking of intoxicants. By God’s grace, Christians are forgiven to no longer continue doing what they have been forgiven for doing.


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

287 Responses to What Kind of Wine Did Jesus Drink?

  1. marc says:

    People use the Bible to promote their agenda(s) all the time. An example is that up until the American Civil War, pastors in the south commonly used the Bible to condone the peculiar institution otherwise known as slavery. Regarding alcoholic beverages, Baptists had no problem with responsible drinking until the Temperance movement gained steam in the 1800′s. (which itself was partially fueled by a visceral dislike for Catholic immigration) To create support for the Temperance movement, the Bible was interpreted as being for total abstinence. The irony is that Scott Shifferd Jr. is doing exactly what mainstream and liberal churches are accused of doing, which is spinning the facts to support certain groups or agendas. What Minister Shifferd Jr. is doing is no different than what Baptists accuse Pagels, Crozan and Ehrman of doing.

  2. Marcus says:

    Hi my name is Marcus Coles Peckham. I live in Lakeland Fla. First of all read the whole bible over and over again until your qualified to speak in the Holy Spirit thru the Holy Ghost. Drinking alchohal in itself is not a sin so those. Of you who say That Jesus turned water into grape juice you need to read your bible some more. Jesus is my brother and the Holy Spirit is my father. I will reveal my fathers name to those whom I have chosen. Wine in little amounts does your body good. It takes stress out of you and does your body good. Jesus said drink a little wine and it does your stomach good. Now if you can’t drink a little but wan’t to indulge until your drunk then you should abstain from alchohol . You are human. Treat everyone you meet like you would like to be treated. Pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance every day in your life and know that you are beautiful. I am in the Father, the Father is in me, and I am in you. 144,000 will be included in the true God,s realm. Would you like to know how? Call me if you want to Know! Your friend Marcus. 1-863-603 -8759

  3. Richard says:

    Really did like this article

  4. David says:

    When we interpret scripture, context is king. In the John 2 passage about Jesus turning the water into wine it says in verse 10, “every man serves the good wine(kalos oinos) first, and when the people have drunk freely(methuo – to be drunken) then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine(kalos oinos) until now.”
    The headwaiter uses the same greek words for the wine that people serve at the beginning of the wedding feast as he does for the wine that Jesus made. This wine is capable of the making some to be drunk if overused according to the verse, therefore what Jesus made was the same type of wine and would have had enough alcoholic content to make one drunk if overused.

    • Please, reconsider. You need to do a word study of methuo including the LXX. Methuo means to be filled or full. The word does not solely mean intoxicated especially when the guests are full of grape juice.

      Here is an article here on methuo:

      http://godsbreath.net/2012/08/16/biblically-drunk-methuo/

      Rethink this position. I find the conclusion absurd to think that Jesus got a drunk wedding party more intoxicated.

      • Shawn says:

        How many days did these wedding parties last?

      • The wedding feast was part of a day (Matt. 25).

        • Shawn says:

          That’s interesting. I thought that there was seven days of feasting(Shiv’at Y’mei Mishteh). Do you find a passage that says that he was only there for one day?

          • Besides the feasting in the Bible? We can’t go by the traditions of Pharisees in the Talmud.

          • Shawn says:

            Sorry not sure if my last post came through but I wanted to get your assumption on whether or not if Moses started the marriage tradition with the seven day feast?

          • No assumption. The Scriptures show that the feast lasted only a few hours from the coming of the bridegroom for his bride and bringing her to their home.

          • Shawn says:

            Please show us where the scriptures are that reveals that Jesus was only there a few hours, and that this wedding feast was a lot different from any of the Jewish weddings of that time.

          • Anita says:

            Dear Shawn:
            Our customs today are very different from ancient Jewish customs. I believe the Wedding Feast lasted more than a couple of hours. Probably they celebrated for two or three days. The wine that Jesus made might not have had too much alcohol in it, but it was amazingly superior wine. Who knows, but the important part of the story is that Blessed Mother’s humble concern for the family running out of wine, asked JESUS for this favor. Mary said “Do what he says”. She showed obedience to Jesus’s wishes not Hers. He did not have to change the water to wine, but for love of His Mother, He did it.. Jesus’s was NOT ready to start his mission, but because of His loving Mother Mary’s request, He found it hard to refuse Her and performed His first miracle. When Jesus said woman, he was not being disrespectful to her. That is the custom. Another point to think about is Eve was the first woman who sinned and gave us death, but Mary is the new woman, Eve, who did not sin, so we can live and be saved by Jesus on the cross.
            Does this make any sense to you?

          • Shawn says:

            Anita, I thoroughly agree on the fact that the wedding feast lasted for more than a few hours. That’s why I am asking how long does Mr. Shifford think the wedding feast lasted. I really truly believe that the intentions started out good with this article but the condemning factor or nature, we have, revealed its head at the end. There are a lot of neat concepts in the article, but I believe using this story for a blog to further the doctrine of one church is really adding to the bible. I also understand the use of the word “Woman” it is a highly regarded reference in the same aspect as Abba. This story was to show how Jesus manifested HIS GLORY and with the first miracle to transform something from one thing to another. We serve a God that transforms things and people. It just seems, WE as a people, transform what we want to serve our agenda. Personally I don’t care if anyone believes whether or not, Jesus did or did not drink wine with an alcohol content. That’s between a person and God. But we cannot change the fact that these people were Jews and practiced in rich Jewish culture. Which I felt like Mr. Shifford was trying to do when his comment to me was ” We cant go by the traditions of the Pharisees that are in the Talmud. They were not Church of Christ, Southern Baptist, General Baptist ..ect….The point is it represents the blood that has cleansed us, not condemned us. I write with great love to my Brothers and Sisters!
            Grace Received
            Shawn

          • Anita says:

            Well said Shawn. To change the subject. We are in a spiritual battle between good and evil. Did you hear about the Satanic Black Mass that was suppose to happen at Harvard, May 12, 2014 at 8:30PM? The Catholic Priests and Christians on campus got this message out in three days to the public. With prayer, petitions, emails to the President of Harvard and the outrage of many people, they cancelled their Black Mass. Thank God! You can get more info. about this on line.

  5. Marcus says:

    Jesus say’s way to go brother you hit the nail on the head. Very few make it. Since you know my father’s name your in. We love you. Thanks for loving us !

  6. Marcus says:

    You have heard it was said eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. I tell you love those who persecute you”……………..”……….. When I was going to be crucified one of my disciples cut the ear off the roman soldier that arrested me to be crucified. I told him do not do that, so that you can become perfect like your father in heaven. LOVE. Your friend.XOXOXOXOXOXO

  7. NANCY EL-HAJJ, A BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN IN LOVE WITH JESUS says:

    In Tim: 5:23 which states “drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities”. How can I prove to people that this is not the “ferminted alcoholic grape juice, but the pure grape juice like the wine that Jesus made at the wedding party.? I have asked two pastors and they said that it was wine like we drink today with some alcohol. How can I convince them otherwise so that they don’t teach that is okay to drink the wine of today (10% alcohol). They try to justify that minimum drinks of wine is okay as long as you don’t over-do and it can be healthy with only one or two drinks with dinner. I have known people who became alcoholic by thinking it is okay. The devil will get his way eventually I believe. I want to set these pastors straight on what the meaning of wine is in relation to fresh grape juice or alcoholic grape juice. Thanks for your help. Praise the Lord!!!

  8. Kraig says:

    I disagree. What kind of wine did Noah drink?

    • Alcoholic. There was alcoholic and nonalcoholic wine, and only the nonalcoholic is spoken of positively. The alcoholic wine was not as potent as wine is today.

      • Anita says:

        The bread and wine that really changes my heart and life IS Mass; when the Priest turns bread and wine into JESUS’s Divine body and blood (transubstantiation) for us to consume. Jesus becomes part of me. Jesus said “He will always be with us”. Praise the Lord for He is good!!!

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