"If any man speak, let him
Speak As
The Oracles
of God..." (I Peter 4:11)
The Bible
Doctine
on
Wine
by Trent Wheeler

For decades individuals have been bickering over whether the Bible permits a Christian to
engage in the moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages. Despite the fact that alcoholism is the
largest drug problem in our nation contributing to 50% of all traffic deaths, 62% of all violent
crimes, 50% of all suicides, 30,000 deaths and 50,000 disabilities every year, men and
women in our country still search for a Bible loophole that will allow them to indulge in this
deadly drug.

The burden of proof for "social drinking" is on the pro-drinker. He must be able to prove
conclusively from the holy writ that the wine spoken of and approved of in the scriptures is
alcoholic. It will not do to find where a righteous man drank strong drink, for righteous men
often sinned. It will not do to find a passage that approves of wine unless that wine can be
proven to be alcoholic. It will not suffice to find a passage condemning excessive drinking and
suppose that moderate use is acceptable. This is called an inferred conclusion and will be
addressed later in this tract.

Bible Wines in Context

An honest approach to the scriptures will reveal God's truth on this controversial subject. The
scriptures speak of wine and strong drink in many different contexts. This being the case it is
necessary to examine the context to see what is being said
about Bible wines. There are basically three catagories in which wine is addressed in the
scriptures. There are passages where it is neither condemned or approved (Daniel 5:14),
passages which commend the use of wine (Genesis 14:8; Judges 9:13; Proverbs 3:10), and
passages that condemn the use of wine (Genesis 9:21, 14:8; Proverbs 4:17, 23:29-35;
Habakkuk 2:15). A superficial view of these texts would leave us with quite a controversy. Does
God's word contradict itself? Is the Bible the reliable source of truth we have always thought it
was? A deeper study clearly indicates that the kind of wine drank determined whether it was
accepted or condemned by God.

There are 13 different words from the Greek and Hebrew that translate "wine" in the KJV Bible.
Of these the first-fruits of the harvest are called wine (Numbers 18:12), the grapes dried up in
the field are called wine (Joel 1:10), the cluster of the grape is called wine (Isaiah 65:8), that
which is gathered is called wine (Jeremiah 40:10) as well as the drink served; both alcoholic
and non-alcoholic. The four most prominent words translated wine are the Hebrew words: (1)
"Yayin" which refers to both grape juice and alcoholic wine; (2) "Tirosh" is translated every time
except one to mean grape juice; (3) "Shekhar" is translated once strong wine and 21 times
strong drink; (4) the Greek word "Oinos" which is a generic term referring to both alcoholic wine
and grape juice.

Methods of Preservation

Some have suggested that the wine which was taken by ancients must have been alcoholic
because they had no way to preserve their drink. This position shows that the advocate of such
is unfamiliar with secular history and Bible precept. As we already noted, there are various
references to wine in the scripture that clearly indicate these passages could not be speaking
of alcohol (Numbers 18:12, Isaiah 65:8, Jeremiah 40:10). Ancients also had at least four
different methods of preserving the juice of the grape so that it would not become alcoholic. 1.)
They would expose the juice to sulphur gas to destroy the bacteria in it; 2.) They would place
the wine in jars, seal it with pitch and place in a cool well or stream; 3.) Filtration through a thick
wool cloth would remove all of the solid particles and yeast hindering fermentation; 4.) Boiling
the juice down to a thick syrup and then reconstituting it prior to drinking preserved the juice.
These processes are referred to by Pliny, Plutarch, Aristotle, and the Jewish Mishna.

Objections to Social Drinking

It is amazing that an individual would attempt to justify the use of alcoholic wine even after he
has learned that grape juice was a common drink in the first century. The Bible speaks of wine
as a curse and a blessing, and strong drink is always
condemned (Proverbs 23:29-35; Habakkuk 2:15). There is no authorization in the scriptures for
the drinking of alcoholic wine. Just the same some suggest there are passages of scripture
which condone the usage of such in moderation. Consider the following examples.

In John chapter 2 we have recorded Jesus' first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana. There
are those who would suggest that our Lord and Savior was reveling at a drunken brawl and
providing the crowd with the spirits which promoted such behavior. In John 2:10 the text
speaks of "good wine". Some suggest this has to be a reference to alcohol. On the contrary,
the ancients preferred pure grape juice to alcoholic wine. Plutarch and Horace said the good
wine was that which was "harmless or innocent." Pliny stated the good wine was "destitute of
spirit." The passage here also says that once they were "well drunk." Does this not mean
intoxicated? The Greek word "Methos" is correctly translated intoxicated or drunkard (Matthew
24:29; I Corinthians 5:11), but this is not the only proper translation of this word. The Greek
Septuigant also translates this word "abundantly satisfied" in Psalms 36:8 and "hath drunk its
fill" in Isaiah 34:5. If Jesus had provided strong drink for those at the wedding feast, he would
have violated the command of the inspired prophet (Habakkuk 2:15), and he would have
profaned his own statement in Matthew 24:49-50 condemning the fellowship of drunkards in
their sin.

Some wish to suggest that it was common for the disciples to use alcoholic wine to prepare
the Lord's supper. I Corinthians 11:21 speaks of some being drunken, "Does this not clearly
show that alcohol was commonly used on the Lord's table?" Not at all! Paul was condemning
the actions of the Corinthians because they had departed from the correct observance of the
Lord's supper, making it a common meal. The Lord's supper was instituted during Passover, a
time when all leaven was to be purged from the houses. Those who failed to do so were to be
cut off from the congregation of Israel (Exodus 12:19). Yeast is leaven and is the active
ingredient which causes fermentation. To have leaven in the house in any form during the
Passover was sinful. It follows then when the Lord's supper was instituted, unfermented grape
juice was used. The practice of the Corinthians was sinful, a departure from the original.

Since the "excess of wine" is condemned in the following passages, (Ephesians 5:18; I
Timothy 3:8; Titus 2:3; I Peter 4:3) some have assumed the moderate use of wine is
acceptable. To conclude such a position is an inferred conclusion. We do not use this type of
twisted logic in dealing with other passages of scripture. The instructions to elders to be the
husband of one wife does not give license for others to practice polygamy. When we say "stop
that incessant lying", we do not conclude it is alright to lie moderately. In addition I Timothy 3:8
states means "addicted to". Are we going to argue that deacons are not to be addicted to much
wine, but they can be addicted to a little? Peter uses the term in I Peter 4:3 to show emphasis.
In verse four he also states that we are not to be in excess of riot. Does God approve of
moderate rioting? How much can a Christian drink before it is in excess? How much rioting
and reveling can a Christian cause before he has sinned? The use of alcoholic wine in any
quantity is in excess and a violation of God's law.

What about the wine Paul told Timothy to take for his stomach's sake? (I Timothy 5:23) Doesn't
alcohol have certain medicinal value? To bring up this passage is to grasp at the proverbial
straw concerning social drinking. First, Timothy was not a drinker of wine but of water. It took a
divine command for him to change his practice, "Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for
thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities." Second, there is no indication that this had to
be alcoholic. On the contrary Pliny stated, "For all the sick the wine is most useful when its
forces have been broken by the strainer." The recommendation by Paul for Timothy to take a
little wine for medicinal reasons no more justifies social drinking than a prescription would
justify the recreational use of such drugs. The sincere seeker of truth will find no Bible
injunction authorizing the use of alcohol.

The sincere seeker of truth will find no Bible injunction authorizing the use of alcohol. As has
been well stated, "Liquor has drunk more blood, snapped more wedding rings, twisted more
limbs, blinded more eyes, stolen more homes, armed more villains, cheapened more women,
shamed more fathers, murdered more victims, robbed more houses and sent more people
before God unprepared, than all the plagues on earth since the days of Pharoh."

Order in tract form from:
Beacon Publications
P.O. Box 14851
Jacksonville, Fl   32210-4851 (904)  778-4699
Copyright 1986 by Trent H. Wheeler Jacksonville, Florida 32210
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