What does the Bible say
about alcohol or wine?

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QUESTION:  What does the Bible say about alcohol or wine? Are they a sin to drink?

ANSWER:  The Bible has plenty to say about the drinking of alcohol (Judges 13:4, 7, 14; Isaiah 5:11, 22, 24:9, 28:7, 29:9, 56:12; Proverbs 20:1, 31:4). Jesus made some very interesting comments about the criticism leveled at him and John the Baptist related to their behavior and drinking habits. Some, because he did not have alcohol, were critical of John the Baptist for NOT having intoxicating drinks (he was under a Nazarite vow to God). These same folks also condemned Jesus FOR having fermented drinks, even accusing him of being a DRUNK and a winebibber (see Matthew 11:19)! Jesus made several comments regarding what he thought of drinking.

"But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children . . . saying: 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; We mourned to you, and you did not lament.' For John came neither eating nor drinking (alcohol), 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!' " (Matthew 11:16 - 19)

John's vow precluded him from having not only wine (fermented juice) or alcohol but also grape juice. In fact, he could not even eat any grapes! The primary location in the Scriptures that discusses the Nazarite vow and drinking is in the Book of Numbers, Chapter 6.

Jesus drank wine, but he did not sin; therefore, it is not wrong or bad if we do a little bit of drinking ourselves. In fact, Jesus' own mother, Mary, asked her son to make more of it at the marriage feast in Cana (see John chapter 2). He obeyed His mother even though his time to perform miracles had not yet arrived. He made more wine than they could drink! One of the greatest Biblical proofs that imbibing the 'fruit of the vine' is not a sin in the eyes of God is the fact that drinking it shows Christ died for our sins.

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Some say that "oinos" (Strong's Concordance #3631) means grape juice in the Bible - certainly not something with alcohol - and that on Passover they were drinking it. This simply could not be the case, as what they were drinking represented His blood, which pictures life. Wine is fermented grape juice which is active or "living" just as our blood. The Apostle Paul did not think drinking alcoholic beverages was wrong. He tells Timothy, who was having stomach trouble, that he should drink some of it for his stomach's sake (see 1Timothy 5:23). The latest scientific findings show that taking a moderate amount of wine may be helpful for our heart and lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Of course, the Bible does condemn drunkenness. Lot, Abraham's nephew, got drunk after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and had sex with his daughters (Genesis 19:23 - 25, 30 - 36).

Paul's letter to Titus states that a minister of God should not be given to drinking wine or be an alcoholic (Titus 1:7). Drunkenness is clearly not acceptable in God's word (1Timothy 3:8). Paul warns us a second time that we should not be taking in intoxicating drinks until we are drunk (Ephesians 5:18).

As long as we take wine or alcohol in general in moderation, the Bible states it is good for us. That said, drunkenness is definitely a sin and should not to be a part of a Christian's life. Thank you for sending in your question.

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