Defending and Contending Biblical Perspective on Alcohol
Defending and contending Biblical perspective on Alcohol
Many folk will tell you the Bible condemns the consumption of alcohol. Many churches have taught for years that drinking is a sin. Some teach that the wine in the Bible was really grape juice, not a fermented alcoholic drink. Right up front, I tell you drinking is sinful – for some, but not for all. And no, the wine in the New Testament is not grape juice, it’s wine. Let’s see, in part, what the Bible tells us – as saints of God.
The English word “wine” occurs 37 times in the New Testament (KJV). 33 of those (scattered throughout the 4 Gospels, Romans, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, Revelation) are the Greek word oinos, which is a direct derivative of the Hebrew word for intoxicating wine, yayin. 2 more occurrences are found in Paul’s pastoral epistles to Timothy and Titus, wherein the qualifications of Bishop are given - a double use of a Greek word, paroinos, which is a compound word taken from para (to be near) and oinos. One of the other 2 occurrences of the English word is inferred by the scribes to make the sentence make sense in English – Luke 5:39 and the other is in Acts 2:13, where the term “new wine” refers to a more intoxicating wine (gleukos) than oinos.
Note – all of the New Testament references to wine warn about being drunk and advise us not to abuse it nor our freedom to consume it. These warnings are because our Maker knows our frailties. How many people do you know who “can’t handle their liquor”? Many people abuse alcohol and don’t think they do – just like folks who swear. But that’s a whole ‘nother topic.
Note also that in John 2, where Jesus performed His first recorded miracle, people were getting drunk when the wine ran out. They weren’t drinking grape juice. When He turned the water into wine, it was declared by the wine steward to be the best wine of the evening – whereas most hosts served cheap stuff once people were under the influence.