Alcohol in the Church
By Dr. Mark Spitsbergen, ThD, MS
There have been many erroneous statements made regarding the bibles disposition with regards to drinking alcohol. The one thing that most biblical scholars from Judaism to Christianity agree on is that the Bible forbids intoxication. It is essential that we recognize that until medieval times it was not possible to create an alcoholic beverage with greater than 10% alcohol content. This is only one of the many problems that we have to deal with in comparing what the bible says about wine and ale with our culture today. Furthermore, Kosher wine made by the Hebrews was not made with sugar and yeast therefore the alcohol content was far less and then once it was diluted with water according to the tradition it would be little more than 1 or 2% at most before it turned to vinegar. Also, when we are faced with the fact that the Biblical Greek language is handicapped in distinguishing between “fresh juice” versus “fermented juice” things become even more difficult. This point is exemplified by the fact that the Septuagint translates both the Hebrew ‘tiyrosh’ (fresh juice/new wine) and ‘yayin’ (fermented wine) using the same Greek word ‘oinos.’ Finally, faced with the fact that the scripture uses a word that simply means intoxication ‘meth’ when it emphatically states that we are not to be drunk with wine then we must conclude that all intoxication is forbidden. We will show in this paper that every story regarding the use of alcohol beginning with Noah resulted in shame, curses and debauchery.
Wine is a mockery, strong drink is raging: And whosoever is deceived by it is not wise. Proverbs 20:1
The one thing that is probably said more than anything else to justify drinking alcoholic beverages is that Jesus drank wine. Yet there is not a single statement in the Bible that declares that Jesus drank any sort of intoxicating beverage at anytime in His life and even worse that He was ever intoxicated! Rather we have a clear presentation of His choice on the cross. When the soldiers came to Jesus and presented Him with wine ‘oinos’ he refused to drink it but when they came with another form of wine, diluted vinegar – ‘oxous,’ He received it (Mark 15:23; Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:36; Matthew 27:48).
In the modern day climate of compromise and worldliness that is in the midst of the church it is imperative to address the issue of alcohol and its place among the saints. First and foremost the scripture forbids intoxication making it as much a sin as any other thing. Those who practice being in an intoxicated state (drunkenness) have no inheritance in the Kingdom of God or with Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:21). Even worse for anyone in leadership of any kind to represent that drinking alcohol is somehow okay is extremely dangerous. With the reality that as much as 10% of the population who are exposed to alcohol may be predisposed to alcoholism puts those who condone and even encourage such practices in the position of casting a stumbling block before a brother (Matthew 18:6; Mark 9:42; Luke 17:2).
To conclude that science is in favor of the consumption of ethanol is equally erroneous. The statements that many make in reference to medical science approving of any health benefits associated with the consumption of alcohol is anecdotal and not sound scientific data. In fact, we all know that ethanol is mutagenic and poses great risk to the majority of our vital organs. Alcohol is a drug and it is addictive. It is responsible for some of the most horrific health conditions and actions in society. Just interview two or three recovering alcoholics on the subject of drinking an occasionally beer and listen as they speak more truth than some Holiness preachers on the subject.
There are so many false statements made by those who have given themselves to wine. To make matters even more confusing these church leaders condone drinking wine while at the same time confess that intoxication is wrong. While the truth of the matter is the only reason that wine is consumed is for its intoxicating effect.
We will show in this article that the propensity for church leaders to accept an intoxicated state that wine produces is a sign of the apostasy of the last days. It is also a sign of the judgment of God, which punishes men by given them over to a dazed and drunken state induced by wine. We must ask ourselves can one take fire into his lap and not be burned? Once we make a compromise with those things that are evil where will it end? Can we tame the power of iniquity and hold it under the control of our pleasure?
Has there been a more destructive drug to the family and society than alcohol? Should not the people of God who are devoted to virtue refuse anything that could weaken the will and jeopardize the well being of the soul? Why would God’s people choose to put themselves at risk as well as lead their children into the destructive effects of alcoholism by its consumption in any measure?
Even if there were a possibility that using it in moderation would be beneficial to the body should we put the soul at risk? Should not the church, which is the light of the world, responsible to show forth the life that is in Christ Jesus, be so full of the Spirit that they would never desire nor need to be intoxicated?
Clearly, God has forbidden His people to be intoxicated in both the Old and New Testament. Paul said to the believers at Ephesus “be not intoxicated with wine as the unsaved” (Ephesians 5:18). We are to be continually filled with the Spirit and recognize that intoxication is an insult to God. We are the temples of the Holy Ghost the dwelling place of the Most High and being intoxicated is a defilement of God’s temple.
Consider the first defined prohibition against the consumption of alcohol in the Bible and then think of the greater risk that we face today as the Temple of the Holy Ghost. The two sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu, were struck down by the lighting fire of God and died when they came into the Tent of Meeting. The first reason is the more obvious one – they brought in unauthorized coals of fire into the presence of YHWH. The second reason is associated with the consumption of alcohol and its intoxicating effect. Therefore God said, ” Drink no wine or ale you or your sons when you enter the Tent of Meeting that you may not die” (Leviticus 10:9). God is absolute in His command. It does not matter if it is a “spoonful,” if a drop of it is in you when you come into the presence of YHWH you will die! Also, Eli’s rebuke of Hannah makes it clear that this prohibition extended not only to the priest but to all of Israel as well (1 Sam 1:13-15).
The Bible describes alcoholic drink by two words: wine “yayin’ and ale ‘sekar’ to which an eternal prohibition has been proscribed. The use of either cannot be mixed with God’s presence. The Akkadian cognates of ‘sekar’ have brought many things to light regarding what this substance was. In ancient times they did not have any sort of distillation apparatus. Therefore, it was not possible to make the ethanol content higher than about 7 to 10%, which is roughly equivalent to modern day beer or ale (attested to by archaeological excavations – see Albright 1949:115). In the ancient times it was ale this was considered “strong drink” being more potent than the wine that was made at that time. The effects of both wine (yayin) and ale (sekar) are graphically condemned in scripture (Isaiah 28:7; Hosea 4:11; 7:5; Proverbs 20:1 etc.) Certainly as a child of God hungry for the things of the Spirit you do not want to be one of those who are “muddled by wine and dazed by sekar: priest and prophets are muddled by sekar; they are confused with wine, they are dazed by sekar; they are muddled in vision, they stumble in judgment” (Isaiah 28:7).
Finally, alcohol was created for the worship of demonic deities. The intoxicating effect that it produced was both create and used for occult worship in ancient times. Although, few today would admit to using alcohol for such primitive practices the debauchery associated with it’s usage is as demonic now as anytime before (Babylonia: ANET 66; Enuma Elisg 3.134-38). Back To Top
Paul condemns the drinking of wine that produces intoxication in no uncertain terms with the imperative statement “be not intoxicated with wine as the unsaved” (Ephesians 5:18). Paul associated the practice not with the saved (sotzo) but with the unbeliever (asotia). The proponents of alcohol consumption in the church attempt to draw a line at the point of intoxication. Most church leaders would agree that it is wrong to be intoxicated. However, these same proponents of alcohol consumption demand that there is no prohibition against drinking an alcoholic beverage. The logical question is how can you have one without the other? Intoxication at any level is forbidden therefore where is there an argument for the consumption of an intoxicant?
The one biblical word that has become the point of contention is ‘methuskesthe,’ which literally means, “to cause to become intoxicated.” There are many who claim that they can consume alcohol without becoming intoxicated but this is absurd. Admittedly, from a clinical point of view we may talk about degrees of intoxication. One may argue that the higher the endogenous alcohol dehydrogenase levels are then there will need to be higher dosages of ethanol to achieve the same level of intoxication as those with lower levels of alcohol dehydrogenase. There are also other physiological and environmental factors that could be put into the equation to determine the degree of intoxication but in practical terms alcohol at any level of consumption produces intoxication. Thus the argument comes down to how intoxicated may a person become before they are transgressing the commandment of the Lord Jesus.
If we attempt to confine the meaning of ‘methuein’ to a state of staggering fallen down drunk then we have imposed a subjective definition upon this word. It is a scientific fact that one glass of wine or bottle of beer impairs the judgment. If anyone says that they do not drink alcohol for its intoxicative effect then why drink it? Philo simplifies the issue for all of us when he said, “wine and drunkenness belong together” (De Vita Mosis). Even among the ancient Greeks ‘methuein’ was the mark and the symbol of the blind and arrogant man who was sunk in the material world while men of vision were those who were sober (De Somniis. II, 101 f., cf. 162; De Plantatione, 177; De Ebrietate., 154 f.)
Paul told us that we are not to have any association with a person who practices being intoxicated (1 Corinthians 5:11). He named it as a demonic work in Galatians 5:21 and further states that those who participate with it will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Intoxication with alcohol is associated with that which men do in the darkness (Romans 13:13). The usage of the word darkness in this sense reminds us of what Jesus said, “men love darkness rather than light because there deeds are evil” (John 3:19). The realm of darkness, which is the realm of the satanic are opposite to everything that the child of God is suppose to be (1 John 1:5-6; Ephesians 5:11). As intoxication is related to the night sobriety is related to the day. Just as night is the opposite of day intoxication (methue) is the opposite of sober (nepho). So then intoxication is a fruit of the satanic and sobriety is a fruit of the Spirit. Sobriety is the trait of those who walk in obedience and in righteousness even as intoxication is a trait of the wicked who live in iniquity (1 Thessalonians 5:6-9). One may innocently say that I only have a glass of wine with my meal or socially with friends but that does not change the association that God has placed on it. Although there may be several definitions for sobriety in this context it means not intoxicated.
When God’s people give themselves over to intoxication it is a sign of the last days. Jesus said men will begin to say that the Lord has delayed His coming. These servants then leave off being the good stewards who await the return of their Master, Christ Jesus, and begin to drink and become intoxicated. The aftermath of intoxication is every kind of injustice and iniquity (Matthew 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46).
Paul had to deal with some in the church at Corinth who had brought their former practices with them and were defiling the table of the Lord through their intoxication. The fellowship of the meal that they had was something like our potlucks but without the sharing of the food. There were some who had lots of food and drink and others who had nothing (1 Corinthians 11:22). The point that Paul made was that intoxication and fellowship with the Lord were incompatible. The fundamental difference between Christianity and Hellenism, that sought to impose its influence upon the church, was that Christians were filled with the Spirit instead of intoxicated with the drink that belonged to the cults of that day. The Hellenistic cults that ran counter culture to Christianity in the first century used the intoxication of wine to arouse them to their hedonistic practices, which lead into every kind of sexual immorality and iniquity. Even the most moderate usage of wine was considered to produce union with the deity (The Works of Philo). It has been noted by scholars and historians alike from ancient times that intoxication leads to lawlessness (Mandates 8:3. Pl. 6,2,5; 12,2,1.- Pchantraine Dictionnaire). Now, there is nothing that more perfectly describes the apostasy of the last days than lawlessness (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
Proverbs 20:1 and 23:29–35 are emphatic in their warnings. To avoid the sin of drunkenness. Even in many cultures drunkenness was a curse and in some cases carried the death penalty. Even though alcoholism was not as common or as severe as it is today and its effects were less deadly than now still, it had its dangers along with extreme prohibition. Back To Top
The production of wine has been associated with idolatry (the worship of devils) since ancient times. Wine was drunk in prehistoric periods of Mesopotamia and brought to Egypt before 3000 BCE. In both Egypt and Mesopotamia a goddess was thought to protect the vine. The “mistress of the heavenly tree of life,” the goddess Siris, was thought to live in the mountains of northwestern Assyria. She was a demon and worshiped as a demon. She supplied mankind with the intoxicant that she brewed in her cauldron. The cauldron, which she held in her hand became regarded as the symbol that opposed the cross, and became the witches object of worship. The cauldron was associated with three witches: the three Weird Sisters. The alcoholic substance in the cauldron was regarded as the power to grant a rebirth. It was the substance that had the power to change each person into something different, which was also associated with the demonic realm. The Hittites myth regarded the cauldron of the underworld as the Mother of Death, the dark twin sister of the heavenly Mother Siris.
Greek tradition speaks of the god Dionysus, who fled Mesopotamia in disgust because its inhabitants drank mostly beer, though wine was still a popular drink. Dionysus was the god of the vine. He invented wine on Mount Nyssa and spread the art of tending grapes around the world. He had a dual nature. On one hand, he brought joy and divine ecstasy and on the other, he brought brutality, thoughtlessness and rage. Dionysus, known by the Romans as Bacchus, is the Thracian god of the wine party and fertility and a major figure from Greek mythology. He represents not only the intoxicating power of wine, but also its social and beneficial influences. His worshipers tried to reach a point of extasis (to stand out of ones body) and wine was an important factor in this ritual and the achievement of ecstasy. He represents the outstanding features of mystery religions (he is regarded as an anti-type of Jesus), such as those practiced at Eleusis: ecstasy, personal delivery from the daily world through physical or spiritual intoxication, and initiation into secret rites.
Maenads were the inspired and frenzied female worshippers of Dionysus, the Greek god of mystery, wine, and intoxication. Their name literally translates as “raving ones”. They were known as wild, insane women who could not be reasoned with. The mysteries of Dionysus inspired the women to ecstatic frenzy; they indulged in copious amounts of violence, bloodletting, sexual activity, self-intoxication, and mutilation. Dionysos, who was worshiped long before Jesus, has many similar features to him: For example, he was worshipped on December 25th (Rustic Dionysia) (Christmas), the day of the winter solstice in ancient Greek times, and his mayor holiday was in March called City Dionysia (Easter). Some sources even claims that Dionysus died on a cross. Back To Top
Who has Woe? Who has Grief? Who is contentious? Who has strife? Who is wounded for nothing? Whose eyes are red? Those who linger over wine; those who come to inquiry over mixed drinks. Do not look at the wine becoming red, for to one who fixes his eyes on the goblet all paths are upright. At the last it bites like a serpent and stings like and adder. So shall your eyes look after strange women and your heart will utter perverse things (Proverbs 23:29-33).
This passage presents the longest and most articulate warning against the use of alcohol in the Proverbs. These words by the man whom God endued with insight and wisdom above other men must be heeded. This warning concerning alcohol are indeed the insights and wisdom of God Himself. From ancient times both Rabbis and philosophers medical practitioners and housewives have noted that wine and ale weakens the will of man and overthrows his moral integrity. The intoxicating beverage transforms otherwise moral and pure people into promiscuous and wild people. God warns us that alcohol will cause emotional, social and physical problems.
Proverbs 23:29 describes the evil effect of alcohol on men’s emotional, social and physical wellbeing :
1 – Emotional problems (woe and sorrow)
2 – Social problems (strife and complaint)
3 – Physical problems (wounded and red eyed)
God’s word has been proven to be true regardless of the age in which man lives. Therefore, today we can still be certain that alcohol will result in these same problems.
God places the topic of uncleanness as parallel to intoxication. Intoxication with alcohol excites fleshly lust, and brings men under the control of sensuality. It leaves them so transfixed by the earthly, the sensual and the devilish that there is no such thing as wrongdoing in the eyes of the one under its influence.
Pastors, social workers, physicians, Alcoholic Anonymous workers, and leaders of diverse religious groups have spoken often of the devastating consequence of the use of alcohol. They have seen first hand the devastating effects of wrecked marriages, ruined bodies and minds, abused families, and successful companies and enterprises entirely ruined by what people fashionably call “social drinking.” Longtime baseball coach and manager Connie Mack said that alcohol had no more place in the human body than sand had in the gas tank of a car. Alcohol is a narcotic, not a food; it destroys, not nourishes.
Even though I have very little regard for the Koran it presents the cultural prospective of the Middle East with respect to the effects of alcohol “There is a devil in every berry of the grape.” An ancient Japanese proverb warns, “First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, and then the drink takes the man.” According to an opinion expressed in the Talmud, the “Tree” of Knowledge was actually a grapevine. Thus it was the fruit of the vine that tripped up Adam and Eve, causing them and their descendants untold hardship and misery. The Rabbis of Genesis Rabba and later Midrashic and Talmudic works unquestionably viewed the drinking of wine to intoxication as not only inappropriate but sinful.
Yet still the most important witness of all is the Bible. The Bible warns against the use of alcohol and more specifically its intoxicating effect many times. The most important warning and standard set by God was that, “wine was forbidden to priests while ministering” (Leviticus 10:9). God struck down Nadab and Abihu in Lev 10:1–7 for desecrated His sanctuary by being intoxicated. Nazarites like Samson’s and His mother as well were to drink no wine or sekar (“fermented drink”; Judges 13:4; Numbers 6:3). They had to stay away from grapes altogether. The Israelites “ate no bread and drank no wine” during the forty years in the wilderness, (Deut 29:6). Kings were to avoid it so as to govern with a clear head (Prov 31:4–5). Solomon warns against the use of wine because of its final tragic consequences (Prov 23:30–31). In summary the Bible warns that drinking alcohol leads to: poverty (Pr 21:17; 23:21), strife, (Pr 23:29,30), woe and sorrow (Pr 23:29,30), error, (Isa 28:7), contempt of God’s works (Isaiah 5:12), scorning (Ho 7:5), and to rioting and wantonness (Romans 13:13).
Wine was the most intoxicating drink known in ancient times. All the wine was light wine, i.e. not fortified with extra alcohol. Concentrated alcohol was only known in the Middle Ages when the Arabs invented distillation (“alcohol” is an Arabic word) so what is now called liquor or strong drink (i.e. whiskey, gin, etc.) and the twenty per cent fortified wines were unknown in Bible times. (Beer was brewed by various methods, but its alcoholic content was light.) The strength of natural wines is limited by sugar and yeast. The percentage of alcohol will be half of the percentage of the sugar in the juice. And if the alcoholic content is much above 10 or 11 percent, the yeast cells are killed and fermentation ceases. This is why ancient wines were 7– 10 percent alcohol at most.
When wine that had alcohol was used it was diluted with water. This dilution continued to be specified by the Rabbis in NT times for the wine then customary at Passover. (The original Passover did not include wine (Deuteronomy 20:6).) Harris, R. L., Harris, R. L., Archer, G. L., & Waltke, B. K. (1999, c1980. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Back To Top
Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind – Romans 12
There have been many people who have attempted to justify their position on drinking wine based on what Paul said to Timothy. Paul told Timothy to drink a little wine because of the stomachache that he had? Evidently, Timothy had some kind of recurring stomach ailment that Paul felt a little wine would be beneficial for. First of all the wine that Paul was referring to was just as likely to have been vinegar. Now when Christians use this scripture to support their drinking of wine we have to ask what is their aliment? Paul did not say, “Let the church drink a little wine,” it was a very specific issue to the nature of Timothy’s ailment and condition. Then we would also have to consider the kind of wine that Timothy would have been most likely to drink. In the worse case Jewish wine was not made with sugar and yeast and so the alcohol content would have been very low. Also keeping in mind that the alcohol content that was there was rapidly being converted into vinegar it would be impossible to compare the wine then to the wine today. To emphasis this point we will reference what Doctor Valle describes in his article published in Scientific America. He described the difference in the alcoholic beverage in ancient times to that which we have today. The following is an excerpt from that publication: “The traditional production of beer and wine by fermentation of cereals and grapes or other fruits produced beverages with low alcohol content compared with those familiar to present-day consumers. The beverages also contained large amounts of acetic acid and other organic acids created during fermentation. Most wines of ancient times probably would turn a modern oenophile’s nose; these old-style wines in new bottles would more closely resemble today’s vinegar with some hints of cider, than a prizewinning Merlot.” (ALCOHOL IN THE WESTERN WORLD: A HISTORY- June 1998 issue of Scientific American. Written by Bert L. Vallee, M.D.)
To apply Paul’s suggestion to Timothy to the situations of modern day Christians who are drinking alcohol for its stimulative effect is entirely inappropriate. Furthermore, an important guideline to follow in establishing a church doctrine is to have at least two or three witnesses. In this case we have many witnesses that oppose intoxication of which Paul is one. Paul is not going to contradict himself in scripture and suddenly take the position that intoxication is okay if you have a stomach ache. If we are going to use wine based upon the suggestion of Paul to Timothy then we better be careful to hold all things equal. It should be used for similar medicinal reasons and it should be a wine similar to that which was used then.
Furthermore, we would have to consider his culture at the time and take the advice of the Rabbis and dilute it with water in order to avoid any degree of intoxication.
Another common myth is that Jesus drank wine at the last supper and therefore it should be what we use in our communion services. And of course if we use wine in communion with God why not use wine in communion with one another. The first point that needs to be made is that no where in any manuscript of the Greek New Testament does it say that Jesus drank wine at the last supper. Rather what the bible does say is that He drank of the “fruit of the vine” (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). Very specifically then Jesus is referring to grape juice. To assume that this was fermented grape juice and not fresh juice is to make a lot of assumptions. However, lets assume for a minute that it was last years fermented grape juice. In that it was being used for Passover it would have to comply with the kosher laws of Passover. The kosher law of Passover required the removal of all leaven, which would include any form of yeast or the products of yeast. (Exodus 12:15,19; 13:7; 34:25; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8). The bottom line is that which is kosher for Passover is flat bread and flat wine. If a Christian were feeling the need to partake of the Lord’s Table using wine, a communion glass of kosher wine that is a year old is likely to be more towards what a modern day person would consider vinegar as opposed to alcoholic (Alcohol in the Western World by Bert L. Vallee, M.D).
We must also understand that there is no word in the Greek New Testament for juice. We can’t get any closer to describing fresh juice other than using phrases such as “new wine” or “fruit of the vine.” We must be willing to accept the fact that ‘oinos’ translates scriptures that are clearly referring to fresh unfermented grape juice. One of the many examples would be Deuteronomy 28:51 (LXX). The Hebrew word used in these scriptures is ‘tiyrosh’ which means “new wine” or “fresh juice,” (referring to the newly harvested grapes) it is translated in the Septuagint by ‘oinon’ the same word used for wine in the New Testament. The same is true in Numbers 18:12; 2 Chronicles 32:28; Joel 2:19; Deuteronomy 7:13; 11:14; 14:23; 18:4; 28:51; 33:28; Judges 9:13; Isaiah 36:17; Proverbs 3:10 also Genesis 27:28,37; 2 Kings 18:32; Isaiah 36:17; 62:8; 65:8; Jeremiah 31:12; Hosea 2:10,11,24; 4:11;7:14; 9:2; Joel 1:10; 2:19; 2:24; Micah 6:15; Haggai 1:11; Zechariah 9:17; Psalms 4:8; Proverbs 3:10; Nehemiah 5:11; 10:38,40; 13:5,12; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In none of these cases can anyone make an argument that an intoxicating drink is referred to but rather the syntax supports that fresh juice is the proper definition of ‘tiyrosh’. The Hebrew word ‘tiyrosh’ (fresh juice) and ‘yayin’ (fermented juice) are distinguished in Hosea 4:11; “the wine and the new wine,” Hebrew- “VeYaYiN VeTiYROSH” yet the Septuagint in an attempt to make a distinction between these two words uses the classical word for wine ‘oinon’ to translate ‘tiyrosh’- fresh juice and ‘methusma’ to translate ‘yayin’- fermented juice. Both Hosea 4:11 and Joel 1:5 reveal the limitations of the Greek language to distinguish between fermented and unfermented juice and the need to be careful not to make the usage of ‘oinos’ exclusive for juice that is fermented. Then to make matters even more complicated the Hebrew word yayin at times refers to fresh juice that has not fermented (Job 32:19). In addition many secular writers used oinos to referred to unfermented juice in antiquity such as Aristotle, Anacreon, Athenaeus the Grammarian, Procus, the Platonic philosopher, to name a few. The four related words to wine in English, vinum in Latin, oinos in Greek and yayin in Hebrew have all been used historically to refer to the juice of the grape, whether fermented or unfermented. To definitively make any kind of an argument passed on a word alone is an error.
However the most ridiculous argument that is presented is the idea that God drinks wine and feels the intoxicating effect that produces cheerfulness (Judges 9:13). What is clear from such a statement as that such men do not know the first thing about the joy and gladness that is produced by the Spirit of God (the joy of the YHWH) that is far superior to the effect of a giddy light hearted effect produced by alcohol. Secondly, it also reveals a lack of knowledge concerning the actual language used. The Hebrew word that is used is in this passage is ‘tiyrosh’ which fundamentally is the word for “fresh juice” not yayin, which could refer to both fermented and unfermented juice. Does anyone realize in a modern society the joy of fresh juice produced from the toils and labors of the harvest at harvest time? Back To Top
Fresh juice without preservatives makes a transition from juice to vinegar by way of fermentation.
Alcohol that is produced by the fermentation of something like grape juice can quickly be converted to acetic acid or vinegar if it is left exposed to the air for any period of time. The transition could be halted for a while through ancient preservation methods but the transition was also desired because vinegar had a medicinal value. There are many articles that describe the ancient medicinal usage for vinegar and especially for stomach ailments. One can also find many who today still espouse the medicinal uses of vinegar and especially for various stomach problems.
It was also possible for people in Bible times to actually preserve the juice so that it would not ferment. An example is Josephus’ account of the Roman capture of the fortress of Masada. He tells us that the fruits and grains the Romans found in the fortress were still fresh, although they had been stored for many years: “Here was laid up corn in large quantities, and such as would subsist men for a long time; here was also wine and oil in abundance, with all kinds of pulse and dates heaped up together; all which Eleazar found there, when he and his Sicarii got possession of the fortress by treachery. These fruits were also fresh and full ripe, and not inferior to such fruits newly laid in, although they were little short of a hundred years from the laying in (of) these provisions (by Herod), till the place was taken by the Romans; nay, indeed, when the Romans got possession of those fruits that were left, they found them not corrupted all that while: nor should we be mistaken, if we supposed that the air was here the cause of their enduring so long.” Also, Columella, a renowned agriculturalist who lived in the first century A.D. In his treatise On Agriculture and Trees, Columella described how to preserve many grapes and grape juice (Columella, On Agriculture 12, 10, 3, trans. E. S. Forster and Edward H. Heffner, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1955).
“Contrary to popular opinion, the problems the ancients encountered in preserving fermented wine were as great as, if not actually greater than, those faced in preserving unfermented grape juice. To prevent fermented wine from becoming acid, moldy, or foul-smelling, vintners used a host of preservatives such as salt, seawater, liquid or solid pitch, boiled-down must, marble dust, lime, sulphur fumes and crushed iris.
In comparison to preserving fermented wine, preserving grape juice unfermented was a relatively simpler process. It was accomplished by boiling down the juice to a syrup, or by separating the fermentable pulp from the juice of the grape by means of filtration, or by placing the grape juice in sealed jars which were immersed in a pool of cold water, or by fumigating the wine jars with sulphur before sealing them. The use of such techniques clearly indicates that the means of preserving grape juice without fermentation were known and used in the ancient world. This conclusion is indirectly supported by the teachings and example of Jesus.” (WINE IN THE BIBLE: A BIBLICAL STUDY ON THE USE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University). Back To Top
You are all sons of light and sons of day; we are not of night, nor of darkness. So then, we should not sleep, as the rest also do, but we should watch and be sober. For those sleeping sleep by night, and those having been drunk are drunk by night. But we being of day should be sober, “having put on the breastplate” of faith and love, and the hope of “salvation as a helmet;” 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8
God’s people are called to be sober not intoxicated. We are the sons of light and the sons of the day. If we are intoxicated with alcohol then by association we are sons of darkness and of the night. Sobriety is another way of communicating that we are walking in the light and in the truth of God’s word rather than being blind and deceived as those who are intoxicated with alcohol. God’s people who are sober are under the control of the Holy Spirit whereas the unbelievers are even as those who are intoxicated being controlled by evil sprits.
As intoxication is synonymous with debauchery and sensuality sobriety is synonymous with chastity and holiness. The word of God is very black and white there are no grey areas. When we create grey areas we depart from the absolutism of the word of God and run the risk of putting good for evil and evil for good. Such a state of impaired perception is like the deceiving effects of intoxication which makes all ways upright (Proverbs 23:21). God’s word makes everything either truth or a lie, good or evil, light or darkness, of God or of Satan. Is alcohol good? Is intoxication good? If we are going to deceive ourselves and say that we can drink alcohol in any amount without being intoxicated then we must refined the meaning of intoxication.
Although, it is somewhat of an undertone in the passage of scripture Paul was addressing the coming of the Lord Jesus and the preparedness of His people to be ready. If God’s people are carried away with the deception of drinking and intoxication then they will miss out on the coming of the Lord Jesus even as our Lord warned (Matthew 24:49). Paul’s point is that knowing that Christ may return at any moment should motivate us to live morally pure lives and so be ready for Him.
We must be willing to recognize that there is more to intoxication that can be explained by the bodies physiological response to ethanol. The drinking of alcohol opens the spirit of man to demonic influences and as a result of ones abdication of control there is an overthrow of moral and godly restraints. It was for this reason that alcohol was used in ancient cultic rituals to worship demons and deities to see visions, predict the future and cast spells.
There are many people who are not spiritually awake to the things of the Spirit of God. They do not know how to receive from the Holy Spirit and move in the realms of glory that have been provided for us in Christ Jesus. This spiritual state of deception and sleep are equated to the same effect that is produced by alcohol. Those who are intoxicated by alcohol are in like fashion asleep and blind to the things of the Spirit of God. One of the primary reasons that the church has not impacted the world is because it has been lured into a lethargic and insensitive spiritual state like intoxicated people. It is no wonder that those who have become barren and estranged from the Spirit of God find themselves given to and outward manifestation of their inward spiritual state.
Many people point out that the Bible does not specifically condemn drinking wine while failing to point out that the Bible does specifically condemn being intoxicated with wine or ale (beer). It is equally important that we recognize the differences between the alcohol content of wine in Israel with that of alcoholic beverages today. The Israelites did not use sugar and yeast to make their wine, which could have limited the alcohol content to less than 2%. In addition, as we have pointed out, the practice among Jews was to further dilute it with water to avoid becoming intoxicated.
We are the light of the world. We are God’s representatives on earth. We are the cure for the moral and social evils. Are we now to conclude that it is the will of God that we lead the rest of humanity into a greater degree of excess! Are we drunk? Have we lost all sense of sobriety? Have the sons of light and of the day forgotten their holy calling and have they lost their heavenly vision (1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8)? Are we to now search the scriptures to find permission to engage in what all men see as an obvious social and moral evil? If we are those who are to practice intoxication then we are asleep and those who are of the night, the sons of darkness. Therefore, those who demand their right to drink wine must question whether they are of sons of darkness or the sons of light. Back To Top
Woe to him that gives his neighbor drink, who mixes violence and anger to intoxicate them so that you may look upon their nakedness (Habakkuk 2:15)
It is amazing that there are leaders in the Christian community that would be so unwise as to condone one of the scourges of society when there would be no greater compelling voice against societies “enemy number one.” What makes things even worse the so-called preachers of righteousness even go so far as to add leverage to their argument by saying that those who oppose drinking wine have a religious spirit. The result of such absurdity leaves the child of God who wants to please God in a position that they not only have to accept that drinking intoxicating beverages is good but also that if they oppose it they run the risk of having a religious spirit. In light of the fact that alcohol addiction has been the ruin of so many people shouldn’t these leaders realize that they are placing those whom they tell this at risk. Don’t they realize that they are already under pressure from their peers to drink. Then to add leadership pressure which is far more impacting than peer pressure is almost the same as driving them to drink! How can those who do such things not be guilty of giving their neighbor drink? I am certain that those who have taken this unwise position simply have not thought it through all the way!
To in any way be a part of recommending alcohol or worse to lead people into an intoxicated state is a barbaric act. In the passage of scripture quoted above the Babylonian conquerors are pictured intoxicating their subjects in order to remove any resistance to their wanton desires. They poured out their violence and their anger as they poured out their wine from their wineskins into the cups of those conquered. These three evil spirits are always associated with the drinking of wine: anger, violence and sexual immorality. It is bad enough that these seducers are drunk themselves but to add to their iniquity and condemnation they force their excesses on others in order to remove their ability to resist. Robertson points out, “part of the depravity inherent in sin is its insistence on involving others in its debauchery” (Robertson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 201) Rav Hirsch says, Base desires and wine lead to lewdness and quarrel and ultimately effect our behavior, causing us to ridicule and degrade basic values” (Stone Edition of the Tanach). Intoxication renders one “insensible and imperceptible, a social nuisance, an economic ruin, a moral and spiritual reprobate. This is caused through its power to deceive, conveying a false sense of clear perception, intelligence, and power (Achtemeier, P.J., Harper & Row,, & Society of Biblical Literature (1985).
The first story in the Bible associated with drinking wine is a tragic one of debauchery and sorrow. Noah, who had became intoxicated by drinking the wine that he made, laid naked in his tent having been taken with the insensible state of intoxication. Ham evidently walked into the tent and saw his father’s nakedness and as a result incurred a curse upon himself and his descendants (Genesis 9:21-24). The descendants of Ham, the Canaanites, became symbols of immoral behavior (Leviticus 18:13). Intoxication and looseness would become the hallmark characteristic of these pagans. It was Noah’s leadership and sin of not properly conducting himself that lead the way to the sin of Ham. Unfortunately, the sin and its consequences did not end with those who perpetrated it but extended to their descendants even until this day. Today those who present a supposed spiritual liberty and freedom to drink their intoxicants may control their behavior but they are opening the door to a curse that will fall on all of their spiritual descendants. At least with Noah there was a possibility that he was unaware of the fiery nature of wine and was a victim of his ignorance yet, even if that were true, it did not change the devastation that his actions created.
The second story given in the Bible associated with the consumption of alcohol is more ugly that the first. This is a pathetic end of one who had once been a righteous man but had made the mistake of compromising with the world. After having been saved through the intercession of his uncle and the intervention of God from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah he finds himself drunk and the father of his daughters sons. Once again the story associated with the use of alcohol is far from one of virtue. The intoxicated state created a drunken stupor that took Lot from the rational to the irrational and from the moral to the immoral. The language used does not mean that he was unconscious because if he were there would have been know physiological function that would have resulted in a pregnancy. He became unconscious of any moral responsibility and values. The intoxication took him to a place of wanton incestuous lust. The alcohol placed him a conscious and moral state of a dog or of any other animal that has no inhibition from mating with its on family. From these two, alcohol incited incestuous relationships two nations were born that became the enemies of God and of Israel- Moab and Ammon (Genesis 19:36-38). Both these children may be rightfully called the sons of intoxication and incest. Could it be that this is more than a story to reveal the devastating end of a righteous man. Shouldn’t we consider this a warning to those who are the people of God today? If we as Lot turn to the world for its convenience and riches instead of tabernacling with God our end will also be one of shame and destruction.
In this tragic story we observe how one compromise lead to another. At first Lot only pitched his tent near Sodom for the plentiful pastures that his strife and contention had sought (Genesis 13:12). It would not be long until his familiarity with the world would cause him to abandon all that he knew and move into the city of the evildoers. His affection for the world grew to the point that the Angel of the Lord had to drag him and his family from the bonds of deception and darkness that had overtaken him. Yet even after being so dramatically rescued by the mercy of God he turned to the iniquity that his soul had discovered in the world of lawlessness. He had become so tainted by the world and vexed by its filthy conversation that instead of worshiping God and returning to the camp of his uncle Abraham his twisted and deceitful heart look to the bottle of intoxication for comfort. Back To Top
“Rejoice and be glad daughter of Edom you that dwell in the land of Utz the cup shall pass also unto you until you become drunk and strip yourself naked” – Lamentations 4:21
The sexual immorality that follows intoxication should be obvious from the verses of scripture that pair intoxication and nakedness (Genesis 9:21; Habakkuk 2:15; Lamentations 4:21). The cup of judgment had passed over Israel because of her wickedness and Edom rejoiced at her downfall. However, God made Edom to know that His judgment would also pass through Edom as well. God represents His judgment against a people with the cup of an intoxicating beverage that would cause them to become drunk and as a result strip themselves naked.
We may be certain that men can only defy God for so long and then there will be a judgment. When we see much of the church giving themselves over to the bottle of intoxication we may think that they are just making some bad decisions, but in fact what we are observing is the judgment of God passing over them as they give themselves to intoxicating beverages that will expose who they really are. The shame of their nakedness and lewd and defiant behavior against the Lord and against His anointing is revealed. These movements have rejected the sweet waters of the Spirit that were offered to them and choose to walk in their own way. In their pride and arrogance they defied the things of God so that they might hold tight to their own opinions.
Unfortunately, we see something similar to what Jeremiah prophesied over the rebellious and prideful Israelites beginning to take place among many in the churches, “For so says Jehovah, the God of Israel, to me. Take the wine cup of this wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I shall send you to drink it. And they shall drink, and reel to and fro, and be maddened, because of the sword that I will send among them. Then I took the cup from Jehovah’s hand and made all the nations drink, those to whom Jehovah had sent me: Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and their kings, and their rulers, to make them a ruin, a horror, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day;” (Jeremiah 25:15-18).
Even as Judah’s apostasy earned for them the cup of intoxication even so in the last days God will make the nations drink the cup of intoxication of His wrath (Revelation 14:10; 16:19). We may also be certain that judgment will begin in the house of God. We may look at the cup of intoxication in purely a symbolic nature and not associate it with the decisions that church leaders are making today. Yet the fact remains that there is a shameful association. The warnings should cause us to pause and wonder at the debauchery and wickedness that will follow if it is so. We may also be certain that if the preachers and the prophets of our day are doing what the priest and prophets did in Bible days then the same judgment will certainly follow. If they were judged because of their literal and spiritual intoxication then we will also be judged in like manner whether it be in this life or the one to come and possibly both.
“You will be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, the cup of astonishment and desolation the cup of your sister Samaria” – Ezekiel 23:33
The intoxicated and drunken state of the people of God will seal their doom. It will produce the sorrow of disaster and ultimately the total collapse and ruin of everything that was once beautiful and pleasant. The Southern Kingdom of Israel was called Oholibah, which means, “My tent is in her.” She was the dwelling place of the Almighty dressed in the glory and majesty of God’s presence and blessings. Yet she had become so carried away with sin and worldliness and become so full of lust that when she was drinking of the intoxicating beverage of the judgment of God she did not realize it. In her lust she sucked out every drop of its liquid in expectation of the pleasure it would induce and the sexual arousal that would follow; only to discover that the wine had made her a prisoner of her own iniquity and destruction (Ezekiel 23:31-35).
So unaware are those who are under the judgment of God that in their lust, deprived of all reason they swallow down the intoxicant to which their soul desires wringing out every drop and licking up the dregs not knowing that all the while they are ingesting their own calamity (Isaiah 51:17; Job 21:20; Ps 75:7-8; Isaiah 29:9; 51:22; Jeremiah 49:12; Obad 16; Hab 2:16). Suddenly in the midst of her lust for one more drop of booze she realizes that she had swallowed down the judgment of God. Then coming to her senses she threw the cup to the ground and in the anguish of her soul begins to tear off her breast from whence she had derived her licentious pleasure in her intoxicated state. Back To Top
“And also these through wine they have been mislead and through ale deceived the priest and the prophets have strayed through ale and they are swallowed up from the wine they are gone astray through the ale and deceived in vision the stumble in judgment. All of their tables are full of vomit and filthiness without any place” Isaiah 25:7-8
The downfall of God’s people were the preachers who had given themselves over to drinking wine. Perhaps at their first meeting they had only decided to use wine for medicinal purposes. Later they agreed to allow social drinking from time to time with extreme moderation but ultimately their compromise had taken over and the wine and the ale had become a part of their everyday life. Every dimension of their ministry was taken over by the demon power that lay behind every sip of wine. There delusional state had made them arrogant and rebellious. Instead of speaking after the heart of God and ministering before the awesome presence of the Almighty they were under the influence of demonic inspiration stirring the people to pursue their own ambitions and lust.
The terrible tragedy of God’s leadership being given to wine and ale is the consequence that it has on the innocent. The victims are all those who look to them for leadership unaware that they have forfeited the divine guidance for demonic spirits. Just imagine hungry and thirsty people going to the house of God to hear from the servants of the Lord. They are desperate to know God and to understand what they are supposed to do in order to please Him. Yet when they get there all that they hear are things inspired from the mutterings of demon spirits coming from those who are intoxicated by its power. Instead of being bathed in the refreshing water of the word and of the Spirit they are soaked with the spewing of vomit and filth from the realms of darkness. Oh the deception is crafted in such a way that the people think they are hearing the word of God and being lead by the Spirit of the Lord but it is the ministry of devils crafted to rob them of their hunger for God and His Holy Spirit. In there assemblies there is no place uncontaminated by the pollution and stench of their uncleanness. The saddest thing of all is that people love to have their prophets prophesy falsely and bear rule over them (Jeremiah 5:31). As it was then so it is today people are heaping unto themselves teachers to tell them things that fit into their life styles. They do not want to hear the words of God that calls them to a place of surrender and obedience to the will of God. Back To Top
“And he begins to strike his fellow servants and eats and drinks with those who practice intoxication.” Matthew 24:49
There are three significant signs that point to the apostasy of the last days:
1- The servants of the Lord will begin to say “He has delayed His coming.”
2- They will begin to strike their fellow servants.
3- They will eat and drink with those who practice intoxication.
The word of God identifies those who will be saved in the end – they are those who wait for their Lord’s coming as the obedient ones. The Lord Jesus commands that we continually watch for His return and warns us what will happen if we do not. When we fail to keep Jesus as the focus of our lives then we begin to become sluggish and unaware of our responsibilities as the stewards of all His sacred possessions. It is then that we will find ourselves turning aside to the deception and craft with which Satan lies in wait to deceive us. Once the demonic influences are allowed to take control of a person there is no end to the iniquity to which the demonic rage will take them. Men and women of God who were before full of love and mercy will begin to bite and devour one another. Strife and envy becomes a part of every day life. From slanderous insults to fabricated lies God’s people will begin to viciously attack one another. Those Christians who had before lived consecrated lives not wanting to in anyway to damage their testimony or bring shame to the name of Jesus become involved with drinking alcohol along with the company of drunkards from the pubs to the bars and even as Israel in the midst of their apostasy right into the pulpit.
What we learn from these prophecies of Jesus is that those who are prepared and are waiting for His coming will be saved and those who turn to these sins and acts of iniquity will be lost (Mark 13:32-37; Luke 12:42-46). There can be no question to the fact that Jesus associated the consumption of alcohol with disobedience on the part of those who had turned away from doing His will. More specifically these actions target the leaders of the churches. God’s church is a household of faith and God has placed His servants over His household to lead them and guide them in a way that represents His own personal leadership (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19). When those who come as the shepherds of God not only practice these things but lead people into them then they are not only bringing the damnation of judgment upon their own souls but also upon the souls of them that follow their deception. Just as Eli’s sons seduced the people of God just before the “glory departed,” these evil ones taken over by damnable heresies rob the people of the knowledge of the Lord.
Peter emphasized the fact that these Christian leaders will be scoffers who will walk after their own lust (2 Peter 3:3). These reprobate preachers of the last days will not have a heart that hungers and thirst after righteousness but a heart of greed that seeks only their own ambitions and fame. There heart does not yearn to know Jesus and make Him known rather their heart is consumed with counting how many people they have in there churches. There boast is not in purity and holiness in the Holy Ghost but in the greatness of the things that they themselves have done and the things that they have achieved. They are similar to the shepherds that existed in Israel at the time of Israel’s apostasy. Isaiah called them greedy shepherds who can never get enough who are always looking for their own gain (Isaiah 56:11). They are those who give support to unholy lifestyles of the evildoers. They scoff at righteousness and holy living and call it a religious spirit as they put evil for good and good for evil. Instead of teaching the people the way of the Lord that they might repent of their wickedness and be turned unto the Lord they condone their wickedness and even practice it themselves. They tell those who give themselves to every kind of sin, You shall have peace, no evil shall come on you (Jeremiah 23:14,16-17; 50:6). Instead of feeding the sheep the word of God, which would strengthen them to walk in purity and righteousness they feed their own lustful pride and wantonness in their insatiable lust to attract even greater numbers to their pernicious ways no matter what compromises they have to make (Ezekiel 34:2,8).
Paul reveals the manner and behavior of those who in the last day cease to follow after the will of God and instead follow their own lust. He reveals that they have a form of godliness but they deny the power them enables them to live godly lives (2 Timothy 3:4). They preach sermons that strip their hearers of the ability to be over-comers. Their message is that there is no real power to overcome sin and they teach the Christian that sin is a common and acceptable practice in this time of grace. Thus leaving all who hear them with no defense against the devil thus making them as a city with broken down walls. Those who would have been saved accept a spirit of apostasy and live in sin. The preacher and the people stripped of all truth love themselves and their own lives more than they love God and the life of Christ. Back To Top
The Nazarites were the mighty men of God who were consecrated to the anointing that God had given them. They also represent anyone who consecrates their lives to God for some specific purpose today. The Nazarite was a person who was consecrated to warring against and defeating the enemies of God through the empowerment of supernatural strength. The Nazarite consecration may have also been a part of the consecration of the prophets who were dedicated to revealing God’s word. Samuel would be the first example of the prophets and the single prophet that all other prophets would have fashioned themselves after. Samuel did not cut his hair and the Septuagint adds that he, “drank no wine” (1 Samuel 1:11). The three people that are mentioned as being Nazarites for life were Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist (Judges 13:4,5; 1 Samuel 1:11; Luke 1:15).
Anytime any persons consecrated themselves to a devoted service to God they neither cut their hair nor drank wine. The uncut hair symbolized strength and life. Wine represented a distortion of reality and a weakened will. For the Nazrite to abstain from all wine declared his acute devotion to the will of God and unwavering devotion to the purposes of God. The belief among the ancient Jews was that the wine that produced intoxication would weaken the will and overthrow the commitment to moral integrity. Therefore in their consecration to God they would not even eat a grape in order to avoid all possibilities of intoxication.
The Hebrew word ‘nazir’ in some respects is a synonym to the Hebrew word for holiness (Numbers 6:1-21; Judges 13:5, LXX- vs. 7). The Nazarite was a person separated unto the Lord which is the same meaning for the one who is consecrated or separated denoted by the Hebrew word ‘kadash’ which is also equivalent to the Greek ‘hagiatzo’ which means sanctified denoting the state of devotion of all God’s saints (1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11; John 17:19; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Romans 15:16; Hebrews 2:11; 10:10,14,29).
We must recognize that we are engaged in a warfare against the enemies of God who seek to overthrow our moral commitment to the ways of God. We are to be those who are sober knowing that our enemy Satan goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We cannot afford to be in an intoxicated state that would impair our judgment and weaken our will. We must be given totally over to the strength of the Holy Spirit and rely upon the covenant if we are going to defeat and destroy the works of darkness that would attempt to overthrow us. To think of our sojourn here is anything less than a full out war of the sons of God against the sons of darkness is total naivety. We need all of our faculties fully engaged and submitted to the Holy Spirit at all times if we are going to be the obedient children of God and live the holy lives that we all called to live (1 Peter 1:15-16; 2 Peter 3:11; Ephesians 1:4). Back To Top
Do not drink wine nor ale, you, or your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest you die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations” – Leviticus 10:9
One of the first lessons that the Priest of God learned was that they cannot come into the presence of God with the slightest bit of intoxication. Part of the reason that Nadab and Abihu were struck down by God was because they came into the Holy place intoxicated. In fact the people of the bible ruled that if a person had one quarter of a log of wine to drink they were not allowed to even pray until any effects of intoxication had dissipated.
Today as children of the New Covenant we live in the temple of the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16). If they could not walk into the temple made with hands intoxicated how much more should we take heed knowing that we live in the temple of God. Can we defile the temple of the living God and escape His wrath? Back To Top
The most amazing thing of all is that good people would even consider that Jesus would live a less consecrated life than a Nazarite or a Priest. Men would have the audacity to preach that Jesus was intoxicated and put an intoxicating drink to his brothers lips. They argue that because the Greek word oinos is used it had to be an intoxicating drink. However this is at the expense of ignoring vast amounts of information both biblically and secularly that proves that both the Greek word oinos and the Hebrew word yayin are used of wine that is fresh squeezed juice. The following are a few example from hundreds that could be cited. Halakot Gedalot, the earliest Jewish compendium of the Talmud. The statement reads: “One may press out a cluster of grapes and pronounce the Kiddush over the juice, since the juice of the grape is considered wine [yayin] in connection with the laws of the Nazirite.” Nicander (2nd century B.C.) writes of squeezing grapes and refers to the produced juice as oinos (Gerogica, fragment 86). c. Papias (A.D. 60-130), an early church father, mentions that when grapes are crushed they yield “jars of wine (oinos)” (cited by Irenaeus, “Against Herecies”, 5.33.3-4) d. A Greek Papyrus letter (P. Oxy. 729; A.D. 137) speaks of fresh wine (oinos) from the treading vat” (see Moulton and Miligan, “The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament,p.10) e. Athenaeus (AD. 200) speaks o a “sweet wine (oinos)” that “does not make the head heavy” (Athanaeus, “Banquet”,1.54). In another place, he writes of a man gathering grapes who “went about, and took wine (onios) from the field” What Jesus actually did was made “good wine” as witnessed by the governor (John 2:10). “Good wine” is defined in antiquity as being fresh pure juice. Pliny and Plutarch, attest that “good wines” were those which did not intoxicate, having had their alcoholic potency removed.
Was Jesus Christ our Lord a winebibber? Was he an undisciplined glutton or was that just what his enemies said about Him because he reached out to harlots, publicans and sinners? Was there ever a time recorded in the scripture where Jesus was intoxicated? The answer to this question is absolutely not. It is the conclusion of everyone who wants to emphatically declare that every time that the Greek word oinos is used means that Jesus was sipping on an alcoholic beverage totally ignoring both linguistic as well as scientific facts that there are plenty of reasons to believe that He was not.
Does anyone in their right mind think that Jesus and His mother attended a Hellenistic and pagan festivals in which everyone actually became falling down drunk? Well if Jesus turned the water into about 120 gallons of an alcoholic beverage that was anything near to what wine is today then every person there was in a state of a drunken stupor (James Strong). Of course this was not the case as it was a Jewish wedding and their were strict prohibitions among the Jews against intoxication. Furthermore, Jesus did this to show forth his glory not to create debauchery.
The first miracle that Jesus worked was to supply a glorious testimony of who He was to all who were present. What Jesus actually did was to begin to reveal what He was going to do for all mankind. The majority of Jesus ministry and teaching was focused on the water of the Spirit and the wine of His blood. When we consider the message of communion and fellowship in the Spirit and in the blood of Jesus this miracle takes on a whole new dimension of meaning and purpose. Jesus liberally supplied both then and now communion to all those who are willing to drink and rejoice in the goodness of God. The prophets testified of the blessing of God and the abundance of wine that He would supply in the last days (Amos 9:13-14; Hosea 14:7; Jeremiah 31;12). In fact, we may view this event and miracle as the proclamation of the Messianic Age as well as the beginning of the call to the New Covenant. God is calling all men everywhere to come and fellowship with Him and rejoice in His presence. And as recorded in Enoch 10:19 the Vine provided wine in abundance!
Jesus is the one who puts the new wine into new wineskins (Luke 5:37-38; Mark 2:22)! New wineskins could not withstand the pressure of the gas produced by fermenting new wine. The wine that Jesus supplied represented both His uncontaminated redeeming blood as well as the communion of the Holy Spirit. Back To Top
Paul presents a choice: we will either be intoxicated with wine which will result in the debauchery of the works of the flesh or we will be filled with the Spirit and enjoying the sweet communion of the Holy Ghost. During the days of Paul those who were at Ephesus were accustomed to the practices of becoming intoxicated in order to fellowship with the gods. Therefore, Paul makes it very clear that those who belong to the Lord Jesus never become intoxicated with wine but are continually being filled with the Spirit of God (Ephesians 5:18). Being intoxicated with wine is the antithesis of being filled with the Spirit as much as darkness is the antithesis of light and sin the antithesis of righteousness.
Being filled with the Spirit and lead by the Spirit of God is the absolute requirements of the New Covenant. We were born of the Spirit that we might come under the control of the Spirit so that we may be empowered to do those things that are pleasing unto God. To think that there should be some time off from a total consecration to the will of God and the Spirit of God is insanity. Walking in the Spirit and being continually strengthened and empowered by the Spirit, to walk in all the ways of God, is the foremost theme of the New Testament. As the first covenant depended upon human ability the last and final covenant depends upon the ability that the Spirit of God provides for us (Romans 8:1-3, 9, 14; John 15:5; Ephesians 3:16; 6:10; Philippians 1:11; 4:13; Galatians 3:3; 5:18, 22-25; 1 John 3:24; 4:13; Romans 7:5).
If we are going to be lead by the Spirit and walk in the Spirit then we must continually yield ourselves to the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will empower us with all the ways of God that our faculties: spirit, soul and body will become weapons of righteousness (Romans 6:13). To open up our mouth and receive into our bodies and then ultimately into our spirits the intoxicating effects of alcohol will have the opposite effect. We cannot be intoxicated and filled with the Spirit. Intoxication will certainly make us servants of unrighteousness bearing fruits of unholiness and the end thereof eternal damnation. Back To Top
Has Red Wine been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease?
During the 1990’s it was observed in epidemiologic studies that there was a decrease in cardiovascular disease, particularly atherosclerosis, in persons from France, despite their high fat diet. This “French Paradox” has been studied extensively since that time to attempt to understand the cause of this decreased risk. The studies clearly show the while one glass may be beneficial, three or more is not. The more than a decade of research has shown that the positive effects are the result of the grapes, not the alcohol. There are flavenoid antioxidants found in the skin of the grapes used to make red wine, these have the effect of reducing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, reducing the clotting and blockage of coronary arteries and therefore reducing heart attacks. In addition the antioxidant resveratrol, also found in the skin of red grapes, may inhibit tumor development in some cancers. These same antioxidants can also be found in non-alcoholic grape juice made from the same grapes.
Risk of alcohol outweighs the benefit
Some researchers have argued for a direct effect of ethanol itself, but there is dispute over this. The problem is that even if this is true, any positive effect is far outweighed by the negative effects. If ethanol itself, or red wine, were to be suggested as a medical treatment to the FDA it wouldn’t get past step one. The side effects of ethanol include: other heart disease, such as cardiomyopathy and high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis, cancer, neurologic disorders, and addiction, particularly in people whose ancestry has decreased levels of alcohol dehydrogenase. This says nothing of the social ills which are linked to alcohol use and abuse such as intoxicated driving and the resulting accidents fatal and otherwise. Clearly, no responsible medical professional would recommend that anyone start drinking alcohol to lower their cardiovascular risk. There are many other ways to gain that benefit without running such unacceptable risks. Examples would be a lower fat and cholesterol diet, exercise and smoking cessation. Back To Top
Contributed by Dr Stuart Graham M.D.
In a post-modern, post-liberal world in which everything is acceptable, the church has to be on guard that the spirit of the world does not overtake our thinking. Whether we like to admit it or not the mechanistic nature of the human existence as espoused by evolution has had an influence on the way that we perceive the world. The “Enlightment” that has brought to us the knowledge that God did not create us and that all natural phenomenon can be logically explained through science, ignoring spiritual realm.
One of the great examples would be the science of Biochemistry through which we can now chemically explain many emotions, attitudes and functions of the natural body. Yet we must pause and ask ourselves what happened to the spiritual impact that is described in the bible. How much of the influence of the spiritual world are we actually observing at the synaptic cleft and other physiochemical measurements? Men fail to realize that we do not have to wait until we die and go to hell to be both afflicted and even tormented by evil spirits.
The whole ministry of Jesus was focused on casting out devils as He preached the gospel of the kingdom. He gave us authority against evil spirits to deal with the spiritual, physical and psychological problems of men. The influence of alcohol and its effect on man is a great example of the influence of the demonic on both the physiochemical and spiritual nature of men. The sensation that one experiences when becoming intoxicated cannot be fully explained by a chemical influence on human neurology. It cannot be explained fully by the effect of ethanol on neurotransmitters. Why, because it is the influence of an evil spirit. Alcohol was rightly called spirits by the ancient civilizations in which it was used. It was invented in the worship of idols and demonic deities and the whole influence imparted by it is of the occult realm. When someone begins to be intoxicated they are imbibing a demon spirit that produces that sensation. The more that the person yields to the way in which this particular demons spirit enters the body (which is through drinking the alcoholic substance) the more the demon unleashes its unclean and unholy effect on the spirit, soul and body.
I saw by the Spirit these unclean spirits that come by the usage of alcohol. One of the demons spirits was called intoxication, the other rage and the other sexual immorality. As men give themselves to this demonic trafficking through their “harmless” drinking the evil spirits gains an ever increasing control over their appetites and work all kinds of debauchery. The moral will is the first part of the spirituality of man that is neutralized. Then the perception of reality is altered to be conformed with the spirit of disobedience and the master of deception. Those who fellowship with devils must realize that they cannot walk in the Holy Ghost. Each person needs to decide what realm of the spiritual they are going to participate with. Will our communion be with devils or with the Lord? Back To Top
The name of Jesus will drive out the evil spirit that produces intoxication. We have been witness to many people who instantly became sober by the authority that is in the name of Jesus. The demon power that caused the intoxication had to leave when the person under its influence called on the name of Jesus. Through the authority of the name of Jesus the anointing has broken the power of addiction off of countless numbers of people. Addiction is not caused by “chemical dependency” but by a demon spirit. Where did that demon spirit gain such control? It began with the first sip of beer or wine that then let to its addiction.
John says they that sin are of the devil (1 John 3:8). A person has to interact with demon spirits to participate with sin. Intoxication is listed as one of the 17 works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). The works of the flesh come out of a demonic realm that has no connection at all with the Spirit of God, and of Christ. Intoxication is categorically demonic as much as witchcraft or idolatry. The power that is in the name of Jesus drives out demon spirits and breaks off slavery to sin. Back To Top
We are in a great crisis today. Even though there are thousands of medical journal articles reporting the dangerous effects of alcohol both physiologically and socially men in the church have been so deceived to preach that there is a health benefit to drinking the poisonous intoxicant called ethanol. To say that the French Paradox proves that alcohol has a benefit to the health is far from true and besides there are thousands of scientific journals that say otherwise.
Then these supposed liberators tell us that we are religious and have no grasp of the truth if we stand against alcohol and the intoxication which it induces. There claim is that Jesus drank wine which they equate to an intoxicating beverage and in their delusional state imply that Jesus himself became intoxicated. They seem to know nothing about the joy and gladness that the Spirit of God would bring to our hearts. The fullness of joy that we can find in His presence is absent and all they can relate to is a proverbial joy that wine can bring. However, to believe that the Greek and Hebrew words for wine are always referring to an intoxicating beverage is proven to be wrong by many citations in secular literature as well as many convoluted linguistic applications in the Old and New Testament.
Finally, this entire argument should be instantaneously put to silence if for no other reason that someone is going to be caused to stumble. The social and physiological history of alcoholism proves that every alcoholic began their destructive life style by one seemingly harmless drink. The evidence supports that some people are predisposed to alcoholism and all it takes is one drink. Jesus said, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones.” Paul sums the whole issue in a very unselfish way. Now we all know that it is fine to eat meat and that and idol is nothing. Therefore, eating meat that was possibly offered to an idol is meaningless. Yet, Paul says that if eating meat could possible result in causing a brothers conscience to be offended he would not eat meat while the world stands (1 Corinthians 8:4-13).
Let us all take heed for the apostasy or the falling away revealed to us in the bible does not refer to the world but to the church (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Peter 2:1-2, 19-10;1 John 2:18; Jude 1:4,15). We must be watchful lest we should be deceived by the compromises that little by little cause us to drift away from the truth of the gospel. Let everyone be certain that the foundation of God stands firm, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. And, Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity. Back To Top
ALCOHOL IN THE WESTERN WORLD: A HISTORY- June 1998 issue of Scientific American. Written by Bert L. Vallee, M.D.
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Skinner J. 1917. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Aristotle, “Metereologica”, 387.b 9-13
Robert P. Teachout, “The Use of ‘Wine’ in the Old Testament” (Th.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979)
Drunkenness, Prostitution and Immodest Appearances in Hebrew Biblical Narrative, Second Temple Writings and Early Rabbinic Literature: A Literary and Rhetorical Study – Rabbi Eli Kohn
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Tanchuma Shemini 5
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WINE IN THE BIBLE: A BIBLICAL STUDY ON THE USE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES Chapter 2 THE MEANING OF “WINE” Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University
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Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 7b; Nedarim 10a
William Patton, Bible Wines, Sane Press, Oklahoma City, 1871, p.50.
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Cotton, N. (1979). The familial incidence of alcoholism: A review. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 40, 89-116
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Ills Outweight Benefits- Alcohol’s Complete Removal from Social Life a Desirable Possibility By Dr. Simon Baruch M.D. New York Times Nov. 15th, 1908
Warren Thompson, MD, FACP, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Mayo Medical School R Gregory Lande, DO, FACN, Clinical Consultant, Army Substance Abuse Program, Department of Psychiatry, Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Raj K Kalapatapu, MD, Fellow in Geriatric Psychiatry, Mount Sinai School of Medicine – Contributor Information and Disclosures Updated: Aug 19, 2008
Livy, History of Rome, Book 39:13, Description of banned Bacchanalia in Rome and Italy Albert Henrichs, Between City and Country: Cultic Dimensions of Dionysus in Athens and Attica, (April 1, 1990). Department of Classics, UCB. Cabinet of the Muses: Rosenmeyer Festschrift. Paper festschrift18. Seaford, Richard.
Dionysos (Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World). Oxford: Routledge, 2006; Theological dictionary of the New Testament. 1964-c1976. Vols. 5-9 edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin. (G. Kittel, G. W. Bromiley & G. Friedrich, Ed.)
The Works of Philo Judaeus- The contemporary of Josephus, translated from the Greek By Charles Duke Yonge London, H. G. Bohn, 1854-1890.
Columella, On Agriculture 12, 10, 3, trans. E. S. Forster and Edward H. Heffner, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1955).
WINE IN THE BIBLE: Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University
Dr. Mark Spitsbergen Th.D., M.S is the Senior Pastor at Abiding Place Ministries, San Diego.