Some see nothing wrong with drunkenness and others believe all drinking is sinful. Some make grand defenses of drinking in moderation more so than they have ever done in proclaiming Jesus Christ. Others find that there is not one positive statement about drinking alcohol in the Bible frustrating those advocating for moderation. Those warning against drinking are apparently concerned for those contending for moderate drinking. With all honesty, Christians can and must warn about looking and lingering over alcohol (Prov 23:31–35).
How should the advocate for moderate drinking respond? Those advocating moderate drinking observe: Did not the high priest Melchizedek honor Abraham with bread and wine (Gen 14:18)? Why does God tell the Israelites to drink wine and strong cider while rejoicing before the LORD (Deut 14:26; cf. Isa 55:1; Amos 9:14)? Why does Psalm 104:15 approve of wine that causes one to be glad? Why does God command drink offerings of wine (Num 15:5-10)? Why does Proverbs 31 recommend drinking to treat misery (v6–7)? Why would anyone overlook these references to wine unless they are bias and somewhat legalistic? Did not Jesus turn water to wine (John 2:1–11)? Did not the apostle Paul encourage a little wine for stomach ailments (1 Tim 5:23)? Are not deacons and women told to not become addicted to much wine implying moderation (1 Tim 3:8; Titus 2:3)?
Reconsider Alcohol and the Bible
From this perspective, many perceive a place for moderate drinking of alcohol. However, “The first one to plead his cause seems right, Until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Prov 18:17). The whole case for advocating moderate drinking stands or falls by the definition of biblical wine.
Those who proclaim that there is not one positive statement about drinking in the Bible perceive that none of these previous passages about “wine” are certain references to alcoholic wine.
The Definition of Biblical Wine
What is biblical wine? Most assume that the word “wine” in the Bible is highly alcoholic and intoxicating. There are passages that clearly imply that the references to “wine” in the Bible can be either alcoholic or non-alcoholic (Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:8; Titus 2:3). Biblical “wine” is often simply grape juice without alcohol. There are examples of this. 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 consists of “red wine” (Isa 27:2, Heb chemer).
- “Wine” is grape juice from the grapes of the field (Deut 11:14, 2 Chr 31:5, Heb tirosh, Jer 40:10, 12, Heb yayin).
- “Wine” is in the grape (Isa 65:8, Heb. tirosh).
- “Wine” is the grape juice of the wine-press (Prov 3:10, Heb tirosh, Isa 16:10, Jer 48:33, Heb yayin).
The numerous scriptures referencing “wine” do not appear to refer with certainty to alcoholic wine. All of the claims of the alcoholic wine and God permitting its use do not stand on plausible instances but on prima facie. The position appears true that there is not one positive statement about alcoholic wine or any such drink in the Scriptures.
Levels of Alcohol in Wine
Furthermore, alcoholic wine in Biblical times lacked in alcoholic content compared to today’s wine. The sugar of grape juice could only ferment with wild yeast up to 4% alcohol. Yeast was added for grape juice to exceed 4% alcohol. The yeast added to ancient wines produced between 5–10% alcohol. Alcohol killed yeast cells and prevented alcoholic content over 10% in biblical times. Modern fermentation has allowed for higher levels of alcohol Winemaker Magazine, UC Davis, International Biblical Encyclopedia, “Bible Study Guide,” “Alcohol in the Church,” Bible Wine).
Wines today average 12–18% alcohol due to recent modern fermentation. The word “wine” in the Bible was grape juice that may or not refer to intoxicating wine as high as 10% alcohol. The simple use of the word “wine” has become the means for many to try to justify their actions in excessive drinking and drunkenness. The negative references against wine in the Bible are clearly opposing alcoholic wine while the positive references to wine are referring to unfermented juice from grapes.
Warnings about Drinking
What are those scriptures that warn against drinking alcohol? The Scriptures warn, “Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,” (Isa 5:22, cf. Isa 5:11–12, 56:12). Proverb 20:1 states, “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” Consider the warning in Proverb 23:31–35,
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. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”
Should Christians warn the same today? Christians are instructed to not walk in drunkenness, which the Greek word for “drunkenness” literally means “filling” oneself with alcohol (Rom 13:13–14). First Corinthians 6:10 blatantly reveals that drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19–21 teaches that “drunkenness” and other intoxicating drugs are a “work of the flesh” and “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gr. pharmakeia for “sorcery”).
The Scriptures teach even more than that. First Peter 4:3 states, “For the time that is past suffices for doing what the nations want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness [vain use of wine], wild parties, drinking parties [drinkings], and lawless idolatry.” This word for “drunkenness” is not the usual word for drunkenness in Greek, but it is oinophlugia made of two words oinos wine and phlugia doing something idly and in vain. Also, the reference here to drinking parties is from the word potois, which denotes events for drinking. God commands against being a part of occasions where the purpose of the gathering is to drink. Christians must be sober and not drunk in any way. Christians cannot be a part of occasions for drinking. Being present is a sin even if you do not drink.
Sobriety is repeatedly taught in the Scriptures. The Spirit of Christ says in 1 Thessalonians 5:6–8,
So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
Notice the contrast in the previous verse between sober and drunk. The word for sober is neipho, which means to be self-controlled. Since Christians are to be sober at all times, then they will not drink intoxicants that will impair their judgment.
Biblical Examples of Drunkenness
The Bible tells and warns of sins and abuses also often associated with filling oneself with alcohol. Drunkenness weakens one’s state of mind to be abused. The Bible presents the preacher that got drunk, Noah. Genesis 9:20–21 says, “And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent.” Then Ham came in and saw his nakedness. Lot’s daughters got him drunk to lie with him (Gen 19:32). Habakkuk 2:15 says, “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness!” Apparently, the Scriptures warn against disturbed individuals waiting on others to get drunk and pushing others to drink, so that they can satisfy their own lusts against others. What are we to do with these warnings? These Scriptures clearly warn against alcohol and drunkenness.
Jesus, Wine, and the Wedding
Did not Jesus make and drink intoxicating wine? This is often referred to justify excessive drinking and even drunkenness. Many believe that Jesus turned water into intoxicating wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2). First, one has to assert this with bias since “wine” [oinos] was grape juice and may or may not have fermented. Some assert that Jesus aided a wedding by turning the party into a drinking party, which Christ’s Spirit condemned by Peter (1 Pet 4:3). One would have to understand the wedding to have run out of a lot of supposed intoxicating wine, and then when Jesus made 6 containers of 20–30 gallons each totaling between 120 to 180 gallons of supposedly intoxicating wine. If readers assume that this wine was fermented and there were 480 people at this wedding, then each one would now be able to receive another quart of fermented wine, and if there were 960 people, then they would each be able to have another pint. Is half a pint any better for 1,920 people who are already full of supposed intoxicating wine?
John recorded the reference that these “have well drunk” (John 2:10), which this is the same Greek word meaning filled (1 Cor 11:21; cf. “drunkenness”; Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 5:11; 6:10; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18). Either the wedding guests were being filled with grape juice or getting drunk on wine. Therefore, either all these people were already drunk if the wine is intoxicating and Jesus made more alcohol, or they were all filled with grape juice and now Jesus had made even better grape juice. Those asserting that Jesus made intoxicating wine are implying that Jesus would have intoxicated these people, encouraged a drinking party, excessive drinking, and drunkenness. That is an absurd notion to think Jesus encouraged sin by making alcoholic wine. In Wayne Jackson’s article, “What about Moderate Social Drinking?,”
There is no proof that the “wine” at the marriage feast in Cana was fermented. The Greek word for ‘wine’ in this text is oinos, which may refer to a fermented beverage (cf. Eph. 5:18), or it may denote freshly squeezed grape juice (cf. Isa. 16:10 – LXX). Since the word for ‘wine’ is generic, the student has no right to import the concept of an alcoholic beverage into this passage without contextual justification — of which there is none.
To assume that Jesus made intoxicating drinks is to assume that after everyone had drunk all the other intoxicating wine, then they needed more of the best intoxicating wine and Jesus was the man to do it.
Jesus, Wine, and the Lord’s Supper
Many denominations have wine as a part of the “Eucharist,” the Lord’s Supper. Did Jesus use wine in the Lord’s Supper? No, He did not. The word “wine” is never used in reference to the Lord’s Supper. People have invented the idea that Jesus used wine in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus mentioned the specific content of the cup to drink is “fruit of the grapevine.” Add to all of this, Jesus used unleavened bread because it was the time of the Passover when all leaven was thrown out (Exod 12:15, 19; 13:7). This also included the removal of fermented wine. In fact, this “fruit of the grapevine” must have also been unleavened limiting any possible fermentation to be between 0–4%. If one asserted this “wine” to be 4% alcohol, then this would be useless to drinkers since gallons would have to be drunk to intake enough to intoxicate, but even then the wine would be so deluded and quickly released from the body.
Favorable Uses of Alcohol
Do the Scriptures permit any use of alcohol? One of the reasons proposed for moderate drinking of alcohol is that deacons and women were instructed to be “not given to much wine” (1 Tim 3:8; Titus 2:3). The Greek word for “given to” is prosecho, which is translated in the American Standard and New American Standard as “addicted,” and so the phrase is translated “not addicted to much wine.” Truly, Paul was not permitting that one be addicted to a moderate amount of wine. Furthermore, the immediate context of 1 Timothy 3 where church elders are not to be given to wine from the Greek paroinos, which literally means to be “beside wine” (1 Tim 3:3). Christians are to follow the examples of their church pastors, the elders (1 Pet 5:3). The wives of these elders and deacons are also told to be sober (1 Tim 3:11; cf. 1 Thess 5:6–8). The moderate use of alcoholic wine is not being permitted in 1 Timothy 3:8 or Titus 2:3.
The Health Benefits of Wine in the Bible
Is wine ever prescribed medicinally? “Wine” is grape juice whether fermented or not, and it has its health benefits without alcohol and as vinegar. However, many assume that the prescription of Paul to Timothy to “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” must be intoxicating wine (1 Tim 5:23). Vinegar is still a prescription for stomach ailments today. Also, a common practice of the time was to purify water with wine and, or vinegar. If this “wine” consisted of alcohol, it would have been deluded with water. Furthermore, Timothy was not drinking “wine” until encouraged by Paul.
Another “prescription” often referred to is from Proverb 31:6–7, “Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.” This is certainly not casual drinking, but medicinal for those in “bitter distress” even “perishing.” Some would even suggest these verses are sarcastic within context. The context makes it clear that this proverb is not condoning casual drinking either. The verses before that prohibit drinking. Proverb 31:4–5, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.” Again, casual drinking is not being permitted here.
A Final Warning about Alcohol
The Bible does not encourage or permit the use of alcohol. Isaiah exposed the priests and prophets of Israel who became drunks (Isa 28:7). Although, they were not to partake of wine in the service of God (Lev 10:9; Ezek 44:21; Jer 35). Even today, preachers and teachers consent to strong drink using prima facie arguments. However, church leaders must remain aware and not become addicted to wine (1 Tim 3:3). Strong drink and intoxicating wine does not have a positive position in the Scriptures. The Bible does not advocate or permit the drinking of alcoholic wine or any intoxicant. Ethyl alcohol is a toxin and a poison, and has no place in destroying our minds, ruining our self-control, and destroying bodies (1 Cor 6:19–20). Alcohol is a deceptive mocker. Solomon wrote, “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).
The CDC’s “Alcohol and Public Health” FAQs states,
“What is a standard drink in the United States?
A standard drink is equal to 14.0 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol. Generally, this amount of pure alcohol is found in
- 12-ounces of beer.
- 8-ounces of malt liquor.
- 5-ounces of wine.
- 1.5-ounces or a ‘shot’ of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, or whiskey). […]
How does alcohol affect a person?
Alcohol affects every organ in the body. It is a central nervous system depressant that is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver by enzymes; however, the liver can only metabolize a small amount of alcohol at a time, leaving the excess alcohol to circulate throughout the body. The intensity of the effect of alcohol on the body is directly related to the amount consumed. […]
What does moderate drinking mean?
There is no one definition of moderate drinking, but generally the term is used to describe a lower-risk pattern of drinking. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, drinking in moderation is defined as having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. This definition is referring to the amount consumed on any single day and is not intended as an average over several days.
Is it safe to drink alcohol and drive?
No. Alcohol use slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination, which are all skills needed to drive a car safely. The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment. […]
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is not recommended that anyone begin drinking or drink more frequently on the basis of potential health benefits because moderate alcohol intake also is associated with increased risk of breast cancer, violence, drowning, and injuries from falls and motor vehicle crashes.
What do you mean by heavy drinking?
For men, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming an average of more than 2 drinks per day. For women, heavy drinking is typically defined as consuming an average of more than 1 drink per day.
What is binge drinking?
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours. […]
What health problems are associated with excessive alcohol use?
Excessive drinking both in the form of heavy drinking or binge drinking, is associated with numerous health problems, including—
- Chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells); pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); various cancers, including liver, mouth, throat, larynx (the voice box), and esophagus; high blood pressure; and psychological disorders.
- Unintentional injuries, such as motor-vehicle traffic crashes, falls, drowning, burns and firearm injuries.
- Violence, such as child maltreatment, homicide, and suicide.
- Harm to a developing fetus if a woman drinks while pregnant, such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
- Alcohol abuse or dependence.”
(“Alcohol and Public Health: FAQs.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 28 Sept. 2012. Updated 6 Feb. 2014.).
Not sure what article you are referring.
So all a person has to do is regret their sin and ask for forgiveness and all of a sudden heaven is opened up to them again? Does not grace cover our sins? How many sins do we commit w/o knowing it? How many times have we judged another and didn’t ask for forgiveness because we thought we weren’t judging? I assure you it happens all of the time, along with many other subtle sins that we are not aware of. We’re all bound for hell if this system of “sin, then ask for forgiveness,” is the condition in which we are granted Heaven. The mind that sins is flesh. The mind that seeks forgiveness and tries to correct itself is also flesh. So flesh can neutralize itself??? And the mind that sins can create the mind that forgives? This is the trap that happens to Christians and in effect is pouring new wine into old wineskins, and is same as Satan casting out Satan. It simply doesn’t work (long term). The battle has been won, and we have a Spiritual Nature that lives above this level of “sin and regret.” Yes, there is a place for this “sin and regret” in the whole scheme of things but mature Christians are to learn to surrender to the Spirit and not continue to get caught up in the fleshly battle of trying to win the battle with sin. The cause of war cannot be the cause of peace.
We need to understand that drinking is not a sin in itself, and look to Romans 14 for guidance on this matter. The whole chapter addresses these types of things.
14 I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
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Note the article in reply.
had the same argument in Sunday school tired of hearing about it. We all know that drunkards will and cannot enter into heaven. But God is clear and has never said not to drink— moderation is the key
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How does this article oppose moderate drinking? Is the point that there is no positive scripture for any drinking against moderate drinking?
I have not drank in about 4 yrs, but this weekend i have stumbled. It was a 9 yr old birthday party, took my kids over, but adults have a way of turning any event into a drinking party. Should have left after everone ate and one the kids where done with the piñata. Yet tried to explain to someone why i rather not drink and ended up drinking thinking i would be able to bave enough self control, yet failed. I feel ashamed to even call myself a christian, I have sinned against the Lord. I tried to tell a man drunkyards will not inherit the kingdom of God…yet did that very thing. Please pray for this sinful man.
You apparently have a repentant heart. We all struggle with temptations, and occasions like that can pressure us. The drunkards, who will not inherit Heaven, practice and continue in drunkenness, which does not sound like you. Remember 1 John 1:7 & 9. Walk in the light and confess your sins to God, and He will forgive you of all trespasses.
God bless your sincere faith.
I agree with Scott, Fred.
You stumbled, but regret it. That’s what counts. James says, “we all stumble in many ways”, but concludes with, “confess your sins to one another so you may be healed”.
Jesus said the tax collector who was ashamed was forgiven, because he simply said, “God have mercy on me, a sinner”.
This kinda kills your proclamation that wine in the Bible is not necessarily alcoholic. If Noah got drunk on wine then obviously it was alcoholic. The bible make no distinction between non-alcoholic and alcoholic wine. Don’t you think that if this were that important than it would have been made clear by the writers of the Bible, instead of forcing us into a process of (wasting our time) trying to figure this out? Surely our biblical studies are better spent on spiritual things rather than trying to determine which wine is alcoholic verses non-alcoholic. This is just another scheme by Satan to distract us from the more important things that the Spirit has to teach us.
Bad example, apparently. Noah’s life should never be used as an example of how to live. God told him how to build a boat but forgot to tell him not to drink. Hmmm!
Yeah, he got drunk. No one is perfect.
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I’ve researched a little about fermented wine from years ago that they have found all over the world from 1,000 years ago these people have studied and tested old jars that wine was in they said it was highly fermented back then because the water wasn’t safe to drink ect very interesting I honestly think more research of years ago in Jesus times needs to be done has anyone gone to Israel 🇮🇱 and asked the people about all this? I’m genuinely interested!!
Why did Noah drink?
Because he wanted to drink.
Anything that can cause one to sin should be avoided if possible. Why be tempted when you don’t have to be? Why put yourself into a position that you could possibly lose self-control and sin. I have been on business trips where the men and women start out saying I will just have one drink and end up far from only having one by the time the night is over.
That is exactly my observation and one warned about in scripture.
Titus 1- Looking for some clarification. As I read it there are those who have no belief in the atonement so everything becomes “evil”. I find it rather hypocritical at times to have many preachers preaching the “sin” of alcohol, with their gut hanging to their knees. I know the world sees it that way. Gluttony is a topic we have a tendency to shy away from. Don’t eat and there is no temptation. But is that true wisdom? If I live in abject poverty I’m not likely to cause a brother to covet. But If I am a 5 talent man and bury my talents for fear of causing another to stumble, I become as the one talent man.
I agree we should not cause another to stumble, but neither does Christ want us to live in fear.
Although no longer certified, I was an EMT for years. Many of the old meds had higher alcohol contents than beer or wine. I had a friend who almost killed him self with after shave. Yet many in the group in which I was raised would take the “store bought” meds while condemning someone for keeping the “fixins” for a hot toddy in their cabinets.
Most have a tendency to exceed the speed limit by a few MPH. If I don’t drive, I avoid that temptation and being a “dim light”.
Yes, the world is hypocritical for judging Christians as gluttons while they bib on alcohol. Why does it matter what the hypocrites think? We plead with all to repent.
There may be some gluttonous preachers, but the ones that I know who are overweight cannot help it. They eat like everyone else, and yet their metabolism is not efficient enough. Should we judge cancer patients for not eating enough? Gluttony is hard to recognize by looking at someone’s size. I read of those eating expensive food through the oppression of the poor (Amos 6:4-7). What if they were all thin? Are they still gluttons? I find a lot of healthy people in the world judging the overweight and shaming them when they do not know their health issues. Let us not judge by appearance but by righteous judgment (John 7:24).
My sympathy is for the overweight and the excessive drinker. God help us to help each other.
I had forgotten about the Nazarite vow. why would God forbid them from drinking mere grape juice, then make it ok? It just makes no sense. I think it’s obvious it is speaking about alcoholic wine.
Now, clearly there are people on both sides of this issue misusing scripture. You can honor God in total abstinence, and should if you feel so called, but don’t burden your brother who receives such things with joy, honoring God and with self control. this is not an easy issue to deal with, but we have the Holy Spirit, the word and accountability. We all need to pray for wisdom here.
I think the Nazarite situation itself points to the principle that God does not all call us to the same things. the key is this verse:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13
One the the better replies I’ve seen, Jeffrey. There is absolutely no evidence in scripture that Paul or Jesus, or any of the apostles, forbade drinking alcoholic drinks. The admonition was to avoid drinking parties, getting drunk, drinking to excess, etc.
If a person is predisposed to drinking to a state of drunkenness, they should avoid alcohol in any form. But using other people’s weaknesses to determine a rule for all is neither wise or loving. Nor is it scriptural.
Alcoholism is not a “disease”, because if it was, then God would be unjust to have Paul declare that no drunkards will inherit the Kingdom of God. It is a weakness of personality that is developed over time, just as any other habit or dependency is.
How am I burdening brothers by recognizing that there is no positive statement for drinking alcohol in the Scriptures (Isa. 5:11-12, 56:12)? How is it burdening to reflect upon the warnings against drinking (Isa. 5:22, Prov. 20:1, 23:31-35, 31:4-7)? How is it burdening to say that Christians must not fill themselves with alcohol (Rom. 13:13-14)? Is it burdening to teach sobriety over drunkenness (1 Thess. 5:6-8)? How is it burdening to point out that idle drinking is sinful (1 Pet. 4:3)?
I am not talking about drinking 2 ounces of alcoholic wine. Who cares, plans, or drinks if they have only 2 ounces? Yet, should I be silent when others mislead themselves that Christ’s words allow drinking 2 or more drinks as though there is nothing wrong in being intoxicated a little? Drink 1 drink and you should not drive for being under the influence (CDC). Yet if I call that being intoxicated or drunk, then am I burdening other Christians? If I call drinking 16-20 ounces of alcoholic wine “drunkenness” when it produces a blood alcohol level of 0.08%, then am I burdening or judging? When can a Christian ever warn against the use of the alcohol?
Alcohol is far more intoxicating than most want to admit. That is exactly what I hear in these comments. It is the justification of 3 drinks as sober drinking when in reality it is 3 ounces. Sadly, people have deceived themselves into thinking that if they can act sober while intoxicated, then no one should be concerned about them and that they are not really drunk. Many think that if they drink a few and their friend does too and if their friend makes mistakes rather than oneself, then the friend is the only one with a problem.
You are perfectly justified to warn against drunkenness. No one is faulting you for that. I think where we differ is in the idea that any and all alcohol is forbidden because of the possibility it may be abused. This possibility is true of everything God created or ordained. Why, even the Bible is misused quite regularly, even by those who do not mean to do it through ignorance.
I just get a bit irritated when folks (often with good intentions) provide what I consider biased and unverifiable information to support their views. Especially when it comes to spiritual morality and Christian do’s and don’ts. For anyone to say that wine mentioned in the scriptures was much less alcoholic than it is today is a straw man argument. These are assumptions based on present day knowledge, but we are still guessing about how a lot of things that were done thousands of years ago were actually accomplished.
If the wine in scripture was much less intoxicating, my argument is still this: How did Noah get drunk without realizing it, and how did Lot’s daughters get him drunk without him realizing it? It was only because the wine they drank was intoxicating enough to quickly blur their reason and curb their self control. What God continuously warns us against is BEHAVIOR that causes harm to us and to others and that offends Him. Drunkenness is a form of misbehavior, just as adultery is. Not everything God warns us against is a sin in its natural form or when performed in a proper way, but some behavior is sin in any measure. Drinking wine or beer does not fall into the latter category. That, I think, is the point we have been trying to make.
I don’t believe anyone who has commented here has tried to justify being drunk as something God approves of or winks at and I take umbrage that you seem to infer this.
Considering that their wine was about 10% alcohol, you make a great point about Noah and Lot about why they should not drink.
Why is a drink of beer and wine any different from any other drink of alcohol? By the standard averages of alcoholic drinks, one 12-oz beer or 5-oz of wine is the same as 1.5 oz of liquor. Four drinks is 4 drinks whether 4 drinks of beer, wine, or liquor.
The history of alcohol making is clear. While there was distilling of liquids, there was no common practice of distilling alcohol in the Middle East or Europe until after the 10th c.
this is simply untrue. Wine is given as a blessing in many places:
Proverbs 3:9-10 states that when we honor the Lord with our wealth and with the firstfruits of our land, “then your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will be bursting with wine.” Repeatedly wine is listed among the abundant blessings God promises to Israel if they keep His covenant (Deuteronomy 7:13; 11:14; 33:28).
The loss of wine was evidence of God’s curse. Moses warned God’s people that if they disobeyed the voice of the Lord, many curses would overtake them. They would work in their vineyards but never taste the wine (Deuteronomy 28:39). Foreign nations would rob them of their crops, including their vineyards (v.51). On several occasion God dries up the wine of his disobedient people (Hosea 9:2; Joel 1:10; Amos 5:11; Micah 6:15; Zephaniah 1:13; Hagai 1:11). Twice God curses the land of Moab drying up their winepresses (Isaiah 16:10; Jeremiah 48:33).
Wine was an acceptable sacrifice to give to God. Wine and other intoxicating drinks were poured over sacrificial offerings on the altar as drink offerings (Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5,7,10 18:12; 28:7,14; Deuteronomy 18:4; 1 Samuel 1:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Ezra 6:9; 7:22; Nehemiah 5:11; 10:37,39; 13:12). Even the Levites received wine for themselves from the tithes of given by worshipers (Numbers 18:30).
God gives us wine to settle our stomachs. Paul counsels his son in the faith, Timothy, “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments” (1 Timothy 5:23). This home-remedy for poor digestion has actually been confirmed by modern studies. Fermented drinks like beer, sherry, or wine are powerful stimulants of gastric acid secretion, and can even speed up the emptying of the stomach. Red wine also contain polyphenols that trigger the release of nitric oxide which relaxes the stomach wall, thus optimizing digestion.
God gives us wine to lighten our hearts.Wine “cheers God and men” (Judges 9:13). The psalmist praises God for his provision: “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart” (Psalm 104:14-15).
Abundant wine is one of the blessings of the age to come. On the day God swallows up death forever and wipes away every tear, the Lord “will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, or aged wine will refined” (Isaiah 24:6). On that day God will again be God to all the clans of Israel, He will restore their fortunes, “they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine” (Amos 9:14), “they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil” (Jeremiah 31:12). God promises to restore to Israel the years that the swarming locust has eaten: the threshing floors will be full of grain and “the vats shall overflow with wine and oil” (Joel 2:24-25).
God invites His people to celebrate in His presence by drinking wine.
Year after year the Lord’s people brought a tithe of their crops to Jerusalem. There, where God made his name to dwell, He said they should eat the tithe of their grain, oil, meat, and even their wine. This regular feast in God’s holy presence was instituted so that they might “learn to fear the Lord your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:23).
Others had a longer journey to Jerusalem so they sold their crops, took the money with them, and purchased goods for the feast when they arrived. Listen to the very liberal and celebratory words God speaks to them: “spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household” (Deuteronomy 14:26). Whatever you desire, whatever you prefer, even if it is wine or strong drink, buy it and bring it to the worship feast. (This is the same word translated “covet” in the tenth commandment in Deuteronomy 5:21.)
God says the same thing about the age to come. In that day, Israel’s oppressors will never rob them of grain or wine again, “but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the Lord, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary” (Isaiah 62:9).
Wine can be very appropriate for celebrations. The bride who sings in the Song of Solomon says, “He brought me to the banqueting house,” (or literally translated, his “house of wine”), “and his banner over me is love” (Song of Solomon 2:4). In Hebrew tradition, wine was very popular at weddings. We see this in the wedding feast Jesus attends in Cana. There, for His first miracle, Jesus miraculously produced more than one hundred and twenty gallons of fine wine for the wedding feast (John 2:6-11).
That day at the wedding in Cana, before the festivities began, the groom’s father would likely have held high a cup of fine wine and spoke a cheerful blessing over the new couple. When Jesus multiplied that wine in Cana, He was, in effect, multiplying that blessing of joy and happiness for the bride and groom.
Jesus banqueted with wine to demonstrate the joy of the nearness of the kingdom of God.
One of the marks of Jesus’ ministry was table fellowship. Jesus is often found eating in other’s homes or hosting meals. These instances of table fellowship left a deep mark on those who observed them or participated in them. These were not merely times to share food, but were platforms for Jesus to challenge social norms and make profound theological statements about himself and the kingdom of God.
What were these moments of table fellowship like? The Gospel of Luke offers us many glimpses. These were far from casual meals. Repentant sinners impacted by Jesus’ message would hold great feasts, and together Jesus and his disciples would recline with tax collectors and other notorious individuals (Luke 5:29). Jesus would even host his own banquets (Luke 15:2). These joyful feasts were settings where Jesus would call sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32), where men publicly turned from sin (Luke 19:1-9), and where Jesus spoke of the joy of the angels when even one sinner repents (Luke 15:7,10). The meals might even be interrupted with sobering moments of remorseful weeping as Jesus declared sinners forgiven (Luke 7:48). Some were miraculously healed (Luke 14:4). During these times, eager listeners would sit at His feet to listen (Luke 10:39). He would rebuke hypocrisy and empty religion (Luke 11:37-52), teach about genuine humility and honor (Luke 14:7-11), and challenged the social norms that divided rich and poor (Luke 14:12-14).
And yes, these would be feasts—often feasts accompanied with wine—and yes, Jesus drank. “John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine,” Jesus told the crowds. But “the Son of Man has come eating and drinking ” (Luke 7:33-34). Many scholars believe John the Baptist was a Nazarite from birth. The angel Gabriel told John’s father, “he must not drink wine or strong drink” (Luke 1:15). John was a man of the wilderness; he and his disciples would often fast (Matthew 9:14; Mark 1:6). But Jesus, by contrast, was known for his joyful feasting, so much so He even gained the unjust reputation of “a glutton and a drunkard” from his critics (Luke 7:34).
On the heels of the banquet at Levi’s home, Jesus asked the questioning Pharisees and scribes, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?” (Luke 5:34). The bridegroom of God’s people had come. The kingdom of God was at hand. This was no time for mourning, but celebration.
Jesus chose wine to represent his blood.
During Jesus’ last Passover meal, several cups of wine were shared among the disciples (Luke 22:17-18,20). Right after the meal, Jesus picked up a cup of wine, gave a word of thanks to His Father, and then said, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:27-29). Paul called this cup of wine “the cup of blessing” (1 Corinthians 10:16) and “the cup of the Lord” (v.22).
By faith in His blood, Jesus is our atonement (Romans 3:25). By drinking His blood we have eternal life (John 6:53). By His blood we are justified in God’s sight (Romans 5:9), we have peace with God (Colossians 1:20), we are redeemed and made God’s own (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Revelation 5:9), brought near to Him (Ephesians 2:13), ransomed from our futile ways (1 Peter 1:18-19), cleansed of all sin (1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5), and sanctified (Hebrews 13:12). By His blood our consciences are cleansed (Hebrews 9:14) so we can have the boldness to draw near to God in the Holiest Place (Hebrews 10:19).
And of all the things Jesus chose to represent his blood to us, he used wine.
In conclusion, How do you suppose the Corinthians were getting drunk during communion if no alcoholic wine was present? Clearly, for Paul to complain about it, wine had to be there!
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