Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wine or Juice?

Is Drinking Wine Forbidden?

Q. How do you interpret Proverbs 23:34 and reconcile it with it being okay to drink alcoholic beverages? It seems if one should not even look upon wine when it is fermented (as Proverbs 23:34 says, and I believe this means to look upon in in the light of desiring to drink it), then God does not want us to drink it at all because of the sin and degradation it leads one into.

Many go to the wedding feast where Jesus turned the water into wine to justify drinking alcoholic beverages because if it wasn’t okay then surely Jesus would not have turned water into wine. But has anyone thought it possible the water that Jesus turned to wine was not fermented wine? In light of Proverbs 23:34, I believe Jesus turned the water into the pure juice of the vine (not fermented). Otherwise, Jesus has contradicted His own words. I don’t believe Jesus would do something God said not to do. I don’t believe Jesus would have provided fermented wine to those at the wedding feast knowing there would be some who would consume too much and end up drunk and committing other sins that drunkenness leads to. If that were the case, then Jesus himself would have been a stumbling block and a hypocrite.

Paul said it was okay to “take a little wine for thy stomach’s sake” (medicinal purposes). I believe that would be the only occasion to take of alcohol during biblical times. Now days we have so much “medicine” for various illnesses that does not contain alcohol that there is no excuse to consume alcohol in any form.

Can you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus turned the water into (fermented) wine?

A. The Bible repeatedly warns of the dangers in drinking too much and its first mention of wine described the sorry outcome of Noah’s drunkenness. (Genesis 9:20-27) But it doesn’t forbid drinking.

Proverbs 23:29-35 refers to someone who drinks too much, a drunk. This is indicated by the fact that the writer describes someone who lingers over wine (vs. 30), has hallucinations while drinking (vs. 33), feels no pain even when beaten, and whose first thought upon regaining consciousness is for another drink (vs. 35).

As for the wedding feast, the master of the feast complimented the wine Jesus provided as being superior to the wine the groom served. Jesus drank wine (Luke 7:34) and at the Last Supper gave some to His disciples.

As for proof, in John 2 the Bible says wine, not juice. The primary dictionary definition of wine is “the fermented juice of grapes, made in many varieties, such as red, white, sweet, dry, still, and sparkling, for use as a beverage, in cooking, in religious rites, etc., and usually having an alcoholic content of 14 percent or less.” The Greek word John used appears 32 times in the New Testament and is translated wine every time. On the two occasions when the Bible refers to wine that hasn’t had time to ferment, it always adds the prefix “new”. That’s good enough for me.

While I agree with your sentiments about the dangers of drunkenness, we can’t re-interpret the Bible to accommodate them.

Is Alcohol A Sin?

Q. I was brought up to believe that there are two forms of Wine in the bible. One that is alcoholic and one that is not. Talking to a friend recently, he believes that it is not a sin if it is used casually, and you’re not getting drunk. So the question is: Is alcohol a sin? Could you provide me with verses that tells us that there are 2 different forms of Wine in the Bible. Thank you. I really like your site, and plan to visit it often.

A. The Bible contains 238 references to wine, new wine, sour wine and wine vinegar. We presume that new wine had not yet fermented and therefore was non-alcoholic.

The drinking of wine and other alcoholic beverages is mentioned through out the Bible in such a way that God could not have considered it a sin. He authorized the Israelites to use their tithe money to buy wine or other fermented drink in celebrating the Fall Feast. (Deut. 14:24-26)

Ecclesiastes 9:7 says, ” Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do”.

During the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11) Jesus turned water into wine for the wedding banquet. Whether Jesus drank any Himself or not is irrelevant. He couldn’t have provided wine for the guests if it was a sin to drink it. (James 1:13) In Matt. 11:18-19 He said people accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard because He did enjoy food and drink. He was obviously referring to fermented drink.

Paul encouraged Timothy to have a glass of wine for his stomach problems (1 Tim. 5:23)

The danger is in misusing alcohol to a point where our inhibitions are relaxed causing us to sin in ways we wouldn’t if sober.

Should We Consume Alcohol Or Not?

Q. My question is on Alcohol. I get really confused on whether we should consume alcohol or not. I know drunkenness is a no no and is not an issue for me, but I do like a beer every now and then. Should I feel guilty about doing this?

Also if you could explain the wine/new wine issue. I’ve heard some preachers say it was grape juice, but isn’t there a verse that says don’t get drunk on new wine? Great site by the way.

A. There is no Biblical prohibition against wine or any other fermented drink. As you say, the problem is with drunkenness. The Lord authorized using tithe money to purchase wine or other fermented drinks for the Feast of Tabernacles. (Deut. 14:24-26) And Paul cautioned us to avoid causing a weaker brother to stumble by drinking in the presence of one who can’t handle alcohol or feels that drinking is wrong. (1 Cor. 10:31-33) By this he was implying that drinking was OK under the right circumstances.

Wine Or Juice?

Q. Some Christians believe it is a sin to drink wine, and that whenever the Bible refers to wine, it really meant grape juice. I always thought that new wine was juice, and “wine” meant just that. We know that Jesus turned water into wine, and Col. 2:16 tells us not to let another judge us in food or drink. Can you please clarify this?

A. The sin in drinking is drinking too much. The water Jesus turned into wine at Cana was so good that the master of the banquet thought it better than the wine the groom’s father had provided. The Lord authorized the Israelites to use their tithe money to buy wine or other fermented drink for their Feast of Tabernacles celebration. (Deut. 14:26)

It’s not a sin to drink, but we are admonished not to drink in the presence of someone who has an alcohol problem, or who would be put off by it. (1 Cor. 10:31-32) The safest thing to do if you’re going to have a drink is to have it at home. Then you don’t run the risk of offending someone.

Was It Wine Or Juice?

Q. Did Jesus create wine at the wedding, saving the best for last? Or did he create Grape Juice out of water? Its my opinion that he made wine. What’s yours?

A. Either way it would have been a miracle, but the closest thing to grape juice back then was something called “new wine” or “sour wine.” It was imbibed primarily as a thirst quencher since as it’s name implies it was decidedly tart. The wine served at weddings on the other hand was a fermented drink, and therefore sweeter, meant to help the guests feel and express their joy at the new couple’s union. By his comments in John 2:10, the Master of the Banquet identifies the results of the Lord’s miracle as not only wine, but wine of the finest quality.


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