What Does the Holy Bible Say About Alcohol?
(Note: Alcohol includes Wine, Beer, and Fermented Drinks.)
Copyright © April 12, 2011 by Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.
All Rights Reserved.
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One of the issues that periodically divides Christian Churches is the subject of alcoholic beverages. The two extreme positions about alcoholic beverages are as follows:
The above two positions are in direct opposition to one another. Therefore, if a person desires to be the type of Christian who is approved by God as being someone who correctly interprets God's Words and God's Laws, then that Christian should base his or her beliefs on what the Holy Bible says about alcoholic beverages and not on what he or she personally wants to believe, or on the "tradition" of his or her Church.
- Anyone who is a true Christian will not drink any type of alcoholic beverage and that person will criticize anyone who does drink any type of alcoholic beverage.
- It is okay for a Christian to drink any type of alcoholic beverage.
With this in mind let's examine the subject of alcoholic beverages using the Holy Bible as our guide. The Holy Bible has both good things and bad things to say about alcoholic beverages. To ignore either side of this subject would be inappropriate.
Negative Comments about Alcoholic Beverages
Let's begin by examining the "negative" comments about alcoholic beverages:
Proverbs 20:1 - Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
The bible contains two stories of men who became drunk with wine and who had an unfortunate experience while they were unconscious:
Proverbs 21:17 - He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich.
Proverbs 23:19-21 - Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.
Proverbs 23:31-35 - Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt! They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?
Proverbs 31:4 - It is not for kings, O Lemuel -- not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer,
Ephesians 5:18 - Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
- Noah planted a vineyard and he drank some of its wine and became drunk. (Genesis 9:20-27.)
- Lot was encouraged to overindulge in wine by his two daughters and while he was under its influence each of his daughters got into bed with him and each of his daughters became pregnant by her own father. The oldest daughter gave birth to Moab the father of the Moabites, and the youngest daughter gave birth to Ben-Ammi the father of the Ammonites. (Genesis 19:32-38.) It should be noted that Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:22) and she became the great-grandmother of King David and she was therefore also an ancestor of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Positive Comments about Alcoholic Beverages
Now let's examine the "positive" comments about alcoholic beverages.
Psalm 104:14-15 - He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate -- bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.
Deuteronomy 7:12-13 - If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the crops of your land -- your grain, new wine and oil -- the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks in the land that he swore to your forefathers to give you.
Deuteronomy 14:26 - Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.
Wine as a Drink Offering to God
God commanded that wine be offered to Him twice every day:
Exodus 29:38-42 - This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight. With the first lamb offer a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives, and a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Sacrifice the other lamb at twilight with the same grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning -- a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire. For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD.
God commanded that wine be offered to Him as part of the following regular sacrifices:
- Leviticus 23:9-14 - Wave offering.
- Numbers 15:1-7 - Freewill offering.
- Numbers 15:8-12 - Fellowship offering.
- Numbers 28:9-10 - Every Sabbath day.
- Numbers 28:11-15 - First day of each month.
- Numbers 28:26-31 - Feast of Weeks.
- Numbers 29:1-6 - Feast of Trumpets.
Ezra 6:9-10 - Whatever is needed -- young bulls, rams, male lambs for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, and wheat, salt, wine and oil, as requested by the priests in Jerusalem -- must be given them daily without fail, so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons.
God commanded that wine be offered to Him on a regular basis. Therefore anyone who believes that wine is a sinful thing does not share God's perspective on wine.
Melchizedek, both a King and a Priest
The priest king Melchizedek furnished both bread and wine for the people to enjoy:
Genesis 14:18-19 - Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
Jesus Christ is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek:
Psalm 110:4 - The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
The Holy Bible clearly says that Jesus Christ is a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. And the Holy Bible clearly says that Melchizedek provided both bread and wine for the people to enjoy. Therefore, Jesus Christ will provide both bread and wine for the people to enjoy.
Hebrews 5:5-10 - So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father."
And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:19-20 - We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
On two different occasions Jesus multiplied the bread that was given to Him and He fed the multitude of people who followed him. The first time Jesus fed 5,000 men with five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:35-44, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:5-13). The second time Jesus fed 4,000 men with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish (Matthew 15:32-38, Mark 8:1-9).
The First Miracle of Jesus Christ
The very first miracle that Jesus performed was to turn plain ordinary water into the finest quality wine for the people at a wedding feast to enjoy:
John 2:1-11 - On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
God accepted Jesus' death on the cross as the full payment for the sins of the entire world because Jesus was sinless. Since Jesus was sinless then Jesus' turning the water into wine was not a sin from God's point of view. Anyone who tries to portray turning water into wine as being a sin does not share God's perspective on this issue. (Note: The normal procedure for making wine is to add some water to the juice squeezed out of some grapes and then letting that juice and water mixture slowly ferment into wine.)
"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied. "My time has not yet come."
His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.
Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."
This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
Nazirite and Nazareth
Now let's take a look at the difference between the two words "Nazirite" and "Nazareth."
Nazirite: A special vow of separation to the Lord.
Nazareth: A town in Judea about 90 miles north of Bethlehem.
Numbers 6:1-4 - The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of separation to the LORD as a Nazirite, he must abstain from wine and other fermented drink and must not drink vinegar made from wine or from other fermented drink. He must not drink grape juice or eat grapes or raisins. As long as he is a Nazirite, he must not eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins.' "
During the time that a person was under the Nazirite vow he or she could not drink wine, or grape juice, or eat grapes, or raisins, or even the seeds or the skins. It should be noticed that the word "wine" and the word "grape juice" are different words and that the translators of the Holy Bible knew the difference and they were careful in correctly translating these words.
Numbers 6:19-20 - " 'After the Nazirite has shaved off the hair of his dedication, the priest is to place in his hands a boiled shoulder of the ram, and a cake and a wafer from the basket, both made without yeast. The priest shall then wave them before the LORD as a wave offering; they are holy and belong to the priest, together with the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. After that, the Nazirite may drink wine.' "
Please also note that when the Nazirite vow had been fulfilled then the person could once again drink wine.
Two individuals in the Holy Bible were to be Nazirites for life:
Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Jesus' parents were from Nazareth and Jesus grew up in town of Nazareth. Nowhere in the entire Bible does it say that Jesus was a Nazarite. However, Jesus was sometimes referred to as Jesus of Nazareth.
- Samson - Judges 13:2-7.
- John the Baptist - Luke 1:11-15.
Acts 3:6 - Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."
Restrictions on the Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages
The Holy Bible does have some restrictions on the consumption of alcoholic beverages. These restrictions applied to the priests whenever they entered the Tent of Meeting or the inner court of the temple.
Leviticus 10:8-9 - Then the LORD said to Aaron, "You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the Tent of Meeting, or you will die. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come."
Ezekiel 44:21 - No priest is to drink wine when he enters the inner court.
Permission to Drink Alcoholic Beverages
However, the Holy Bible clearly says in the New Testament that Deacons, and Preachers such as Timothy, are permitted to drink wine in moderation:
1 Timothy 3:8 - Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.
One scripture that could be used to condemn the drinking of wine is the following. Please note that the following scripture only suggests that wine should not be consumed in front of an immature Christian. The following verse does not forbid the drinking of wine.
1 Timothy 5:23 - Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.
Romans 14:21 - It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.
If a Christian were to blindly practice the above verse then he or she would have to stop eating meat and drinking wine. The reason is simple. Some Christians and some non-believers are vegetarians and they do not eat meat. Some of these vegetarians are offended by anyone who does eat meat. Therefore, if a Christian did not want to offend one of these vegetarians then he or she should refrain from eating meat. In addition, some people are overweight and they cannot successfully control their appetite for food. Therefore a Christian should not eat meat because it might tempt these overweight people into becoming even more overweight. (Note: We will examine the meat issue in more detail later in this article.)
The above paragraph is an example of the type of invalid reasoning that could be used by someone to suggest that a Christian should not drink any type of alcoholic beverage because it might offend a non-drinker, or because it might set the wrong example for a non-believer or for an alcoholic. An alcoholic is a person who cannot control his or her appetite for alcoholic beverages and who cannot practice restraint and who cannot consume alcohol in moderation as the Holy Bible recommends.
The following scripture clearly addresses the meat issue for Christians:
Acts 10:9-16 - About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."
Based on the above scripture a New Testament Christian has the freedom to eat any type of meat and he or she is not bound by the Old Testament regulations about which animals are considered to be clean (may be eaten) and unclean (may not be eaten).
"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
1 Timothy 4:3-5 - They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
Colossians 2:16 - Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.
Based on the above scripture verses from the Holy Bible the following general statements can be made:
The above statements are all 100% supported by the Holy Scriptures quoted in this article. The only reference to a source other than the Bible are the medical research studies mentioned in item 10 above and those studies support the information in the Bible and they do not contradict that information.
- God created grapes and God created the fermentation process. Therefore God created wine.
- God commanded that wine be offered to Him on a regular basis.
- The priest king Melchizedek provided both bread and wine for the people to enjoy.
- Jesus Christ is a priest king forever in the order of Melchizedek.
- The first miracle of Jesus Christ was to turn plain ordinary water into the finest quality wine for the guests at a wedding feast to enjoy.
- The apostle Paul said it is okay for Deacons and Preachers to consume wine in moderation.
- There is no commandment anywhere in the entire Bible that says "Thou shalt not drink alcohol."
- The Bible does say that drinking too much alcohol will make you drunk. This is a bad condition to be in. If you drink alcohol then you should drink in moderation. If you are not able to control your appetite for alcohol then you should consider abstaining.
- A person may voluntarily refrain from drinking alcohol or from eating meat if he or she wishes. However, that person should not criticize another person who voluntarily chooses to drink alcohol or to eat meat.
- The Bible recommends the moderate consumption of wine for health reasons (1 Timothy 5:23). This is supported by several modern medical research studies that report a variety of positive health benefits from consuming a small quantity of wine on a regular basis.
No effort was made to change what the Bible says by quoting cultural differences, or society expectations, or history, or geographical considerations, or traditions, or the writings of some famous Bible scholar. Anyone who wanted to modify the Words of God to support a different viewpoint about alcoholic beverages could easily do so by adding material from other sources that supported his or her own personal opinion on this topic. The above summary is not based on personal opinion. It is based 100% on the Word of God.
- A sincere honest Christian will base his or her beliefs on Holy Scriptures.
2 Timothy 2:15 - Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
- Anyone who knows the truth but does not share it with others is not doing the will of God.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 - Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage -- with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
- Anyone who knows the truth but says something different is a liar.
Mark 7:6-9 - He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: " 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'
"You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."
And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!"
Matthew 7:21-23 - "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "
Wild yeast is always present on the skins of grapes. When the grapes are harvested and crushed then the juice inside the grapes makes contact with the yeast on the skins of the grapes. That yeast immediately begins to feed on the natural sugar in the grape juice and the yeast multiplies and it gradually creates alcohol and carbon dioxide. For the first few days the alcohol level is extremely low. However this fermentation process will continue for about six weeks until all the natural sugar in the juice has been consumed, or until the alcohol content of the juice has reached its maximum possible level (approximately 14%), and then the yeast will stop working and it will settle to the bottom of the wine container. Although the flavor and the aroma of the wine may gradually change with the passage of time, the amount of alcohol in the wine will not change.
The only way our ancestors could prevent the yeast from creating alcohol was to heat (or boil) the grape juice immediately after it was extracted from the grapes. There is no mention anywhere in the entire Bible of grape juice or wine being heated or boiled. Therefore the only difference between new wine and old wine is the concentration of alcohol in the wine and the flavor and aroma of that wine. Anyone who says that new wine contains absolutely no alcohol is adding words to the Bible that are not there in order to perpetuate a myth that he or she personally wishes to believe.
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