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Biblebell's study of wine drinking in NT days

Visitor's comments on Biblebell's study

Did Jesus drink wine?
Related Question: Is it okay for a Christian to drink?

Jackie writes -

  • Do you know if the wine Jesus drank was non-alcoholic or not?
  • Is social drinking sinful?
   

Question #1: Do you know if the wine Jesus drank was non-alcoholic?

The key word in Jackie's first question is "know."

  • No, I do not KNOW if the wine Jesus drank was non-alcoholic, or if He drank wine at all.
  • Nobody knows, because the Bible doesn't say.

To my knowledge, there were just two incidents where the Bible SPECIFICALLY indicates that Lord Jesus was "involved" with drinking wine or grape juice...

   

Water into wine
The first of these incidents was in John 2.1-10, where Jesus attended a wedding and changed water into wine.

  • Throughout this Bible passage, the Greek word oinos is correctly translated wine -- meaning fermented fruit juice.
  Strong's # 3631

oinos, pronounced oy'-nos

a primary word (or perhaps of Hebrew origin (3196)); "wine" (literally or figuratively):--wine.
  • The Bible does NOT say that Jesus drank wine at the wedding. He may or may not have done so.
  • However, when Lord Jesus transformed the water, it is certain that He made oinos - wine.
  • Ergo, whether Jesus drank any of the wine or not, it can be said that He gave at least tacit approval to its use at a wedding.

  Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, "Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast." And they took it.

When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made
wine [
oinos], and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. John 2.7-9

The Lord's Supper
The second of these incidents was in Matthew 26.26-30, where Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper [or communion].

  • In Mt 26.29, when Jesus drank from the cup, He very pointedly did NOT say that He was drinking oinos - wine.
  • What He DID say was this: "I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."
  • Clearly, therefore, Jesus drank fruit juice ["fruit of the vine"], and NOT oinos - wine.
  [Jesus said...] But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine [gennema ampelos] from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom. Mt 26.29

In their exuberance to speak out against drinking alcoholic beverages, some folks want to insist that oinos usually means plain old grape juice. Such a statement is both unnecessary and inaccurate.

  • Oinos is wine, an alcoholic beverage. Period.
  • As we saw with Mt 26.29, the Bible is quite capable of ensuring that we know when grape juice [as opposed to wine] is being spoken of.
   

Wine in Bible days
In Bible days, and in the largely desert regions of Bible lands, water was very scarce.

  • That's the reason why folks often had MAJOR disagreements (even wars) over water wells.
  Then Abraham rebuked Abimelech because of a well of water which Abimelech's servants had seized. Gen 21.25
  • Moreover, the water was often polluted by animal poop, corpses of dead animals, harmful chemicals in the ground, and so forth.
  • That's why folks back then were so keen about "living water," which was the name they used for fresh, clean, cool, sweet water in fast moving streams, where pollution was less likely.
  [God said...] My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jer 2.13

Wine as a substitute for polluted water
People in those days usually lacked the means to readily purify their water supply.

  • Ergo, the safest sources of liquid for drinking were milk, and juices from apples, grapes, figs, coconuts, pomegranates, etc.
  • These fruits were harvested at certain seasons of the year, hence there was a sporadic supply.
  • Thus, the juices HAD to be stored for future use.

continued next col. ==>

 

In storage, the sugars in these juices would soon turn to alcohol [ferment].

  • The juices with incipient or relatively small levels of alcohol were used for drinking and cooking.
  • The juices that had high levels of alcohol were usually "reserved" for use by adults who wanted a buzz.
  • Stronger wines were also used as an antiseptic for wounds, and [in large amounts] as an anesthetic to dull pain during surgery and so forth.
Question #2: Is drinking sinful?
If you are seeking a legalistic answer then -- the Bible does NOT state that the drinking of wine is, per se, a sin.
   
What IS a sin is drunkenness!   Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit Eph 5.18
Drunkenness is Idiocy
Moreover, drunkenness is -- per the Bible -- the act of a silly, stupid, careless person.
  Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise. Prov 20.1

Woe to those who rise early in the morning, That they may follow intoxicating drink; Who continue until night, till wine inflames them!
Isa 5.11 [ see also Prov 23.20, Isa 5.22, Lk 21.34]
Some folks might even say that the Bible indirectly condones wine drinking. HOWEVER...   God causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man Ps 104.14-15a [see also Eccl 9.7]

Wine is NOT liquid love!
God said that LOVE is the main principle you are to follow in your Christian walk...

  • Love of God, and
  • Love of your neighbor
  Jesus said, You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. Mt 22.37-40

Many Christians firmly believe that drinking alcohol IS a sin.

  • Whether or not they are correct in this belief is NOT the point.
  • The point is -- will YOUR drinking cause someone to stumble?
  • If it will, then your drinking is an UNloving act, and any UNloving act on your part is SIN!
  ...to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Rom 14.14b

Beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak... And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?
1 Cor 8.9, 8.11

You are God's salt & light factory

  • Many non-Christians are looking to you in hopes of discovering what it means to know and love Jesus.
  • Ask yourself: Does drinking wine -- especially in public -- shine God's light to the world?
  [Jesus said...] You are the light of the world... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Mt 5.14a, 5.16-16

Almost everyone has the opinion that drinking is a weak, evil, un-Christian thing to do.

  • This opinion is often held most strongly by those who themselves drink a lot.
  • If you drink, folks get the impression that God is too weak to get you to forsake what is -- to them -- a sinful weakness on your part.
  • In short, drinking can TOTALLY screw up your testimony to the world.
  • All things are lawful for you, but NOT all things are helpful -- Not helpful to you, and NOT helpful to the cause of Christ!
  All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
1 Cor 6.12
  • Also, be aware that some folks just can't handle even the teeniest, tiniest swig of alcohol. They get drunk VERY fast.
  • Some folks -- especially recovering alcoholics -- can get addicted to alcohol real easy.
  • If your drinking TEMPTS such folks, it is NOT an act of love. And -- to repeat -- an UNloving act is sin.
  Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.
Rom 14.13

Finally, be aware that alcohol is...

  • An HIGHLY addictive drug. You can easily get hooked on alcohol. Just one or two drinks, every now and then, can do the job.
  • A depressant - You may get a "high" for a while but, in the long run, continued use of alcohol will make you despise yourself and the world around you.

If you think addiction CAN'T happen to you, then you are walking in PRIDE. Be frightened when you think this way. God will never put such a thought into your mind. Satan, however, will.

Be VERY frightened if you start to think this way!

  Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Prov 16.18

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
Prov 14.12

IN SUMMARY

  • Drinking is not a sin.
  • Drunkenness IS a sin.
  • Doing anything that is UNloving is a sin.

Those are the Biblical principles. Read 1 Cor 6.12 again and again, pray about this a lot, then -- do what you and God, talking together, decide is right. Amen

   

A visitor's comments on the above study

Steve writes - On your website you state that to your knowledge there were only two instances where Jesus might have been involved in drinking. However, in Matthew 11:18, Jesus Himself clearly states that He DID indeed drink.   [Jesus said...] For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He has a demon." The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!" Mt 11.18-19a
The question to whether it is fermented or not? Easton's Bible dictionary gives us a pretty good description, and indeed it was fermented.

Common sense leads us to conclude that the wine was used as a means of drunkenness by the very accusations on the day of Pentecost. "These men
are full of new wine."
  [Reactions of people in Jerusalem when the disciples began speaking in other tongues, by virtue of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them...]
So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?" Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."
Acts 2.12-13
"New Wine" was ascribed to wine that had been
made that same year. But, as Peter so eloquently puts it, in Acts 2:14 and 15..."These are not drunken as ye suppose".
  [Peter said...] Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. Acts 2.14b-15
Now, I refuse to have alcohol of any form in my home. I don't want my children drinking it. I have no desire to use it myself, and yes it does put a stumbling block before some others of the family of God.

However if a man drinks himself a glass of beer, or wine, etc, it in no way jeopardizes his relationship with the Lord. And as far as the stumbling block, there are still people "abstaining from meats". This could also
be a stumbling block to some, yet most of us continue to eat our meat.

The bottom line is excesses. You and I both eat food to live, yet, even though we are doing the same thing, I might be sinning as a glutton, while you eat to nourish the flesh. You then would be without sin, while I have been a glutton. The same goes for most anything else.
   
The apostle Paul stated in Romans 14:14... "I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself, but to him that
esteemeth anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean."
  I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. Rom 14.14-15
I'm sorry this was so long but I thought perhaps that you might could use this in your online ministry. Keep up the good work for the kingdom and be blessed according to His will.

PS Those who say a man drinking is a sinner (not drunkenness but just drinking perhaps a glass of wine) are in all points calling Jesus Christ our Lord a sinner. (So did the Pharisees)...

Thank you very much for your time friend,
Steve
 

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