A number of Christian denominations believe that Jesus never consumed alcohol. Despite the fact that the NT never claimed that Jesus refrained from drinking alcohol, many believe that it would be wrong for Him to drink because He was supposed to be sinless. However, responsible alcohol drinking was never called a sin in the Bible, Old or New Testaments. Below is a brief examination of why most Christians believe Jesus drank alcohol and why it’s the preferred position on this topic.
The most useful approach to this topic is to read the original Greek texts. Just like many languages they have words that differentiate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The “two types” argument is heavily leaned on for the justification of a dry Jesus view and fiercely defended at John Hamel Ministries. John Hamel says the following regarding this issue:
“There are two kinds of ‘wine’ referred to in the Bible. Fermented and unfermented.”
I explained that Jesus neither drank nor created fermented, alcoholic wine. That would have been disobedience to His Father’s Word. Disobedience is sin and Jesus never sinned.
John states that the Bible shows two different kinds of wines. Those 2 types are regular wine and “new” wine. Any reader of the New Testament would recognize these two wines. But here is the problem with the argument: their are actually more than 2 types of “wine” in the Bible. In fact, their are at least 6 different words in the Bible that can be translated to mean wine (either fermented or unfermented). The OT Hebrew is helpful in this area because Jewish translators had to translate the various Hebrew words into Greek during the creation of the Greek OT, in the 3rd century BCE.
Multiple Wine Types In The Hebrew Old Testament
The first difficulty John Hamel’s study of wine is that the Hebrew text is very very clear about what wine is fermented and what is not. The Hebrew language had a whole slew of different words for different wines. Here we will just look at two of them since this primarily a New Testament issue.
The Hebrew word for grape juice, or freshly pressed grapes, is Tirosh (תִּירוֹשׁ). We see tirosh getting used in Genesis 27:28, Numbers 18:12, Deuteronomy 7:13, Proverbs 3:10, and many other places in the Old Testament. The various translations acceptable for Tirosh are: new wine, first fruits, grape clusters, sweet wine, freshly pressed grapes, and sometimes just generically used as wine. So, in many cases it refers to non-alcoholic wine. However, it should be noted that this unfermented wine had gray area because smashed grapes can start fermenting in just a few hours based on how much natural yeast is present on the skins before being pressed.
The Hebrew word for alcoholic or fermented wine is Yayin (יָ֫יִן). Some of the Old Testament usages can be found in Genesis 9:21, Genesis 19:34, Exodus 29:40, 1 Samuel 1:14, and many other locations. In almost all occasions it is referring to an intoxication by wine or a description of an alcoholic wine. There is another word in Hebrew that is used to refer generically to a strong fermented drink (sometimes wine) which is sheker (שֵׁכָר). This word is carried over into the Greek (Sikera/σίκερα) and is seen in the NT also.
4 Wine Types In The Greek New Testament
The New Testament uses 7 different words to call out or describe wine. Below we will examine the 4 most important words and most frequently used words.
The Greek New Testament does use a word for new wine or the equivalent of freshly pressed grapes. This would match the Hebrew word Tirosh (תִּירוֹשׁ). The Greek word is Gleukos (γλεῦκος). Aristotle and all of his Greek speaking contemporaries used this word to refer to what we would call “must” which is grapes freshly pressed and not fermented. This is where everyone should be asking: is this what Jesus drank? Unfortunately it is only used once in the entire New Testament. And the single time it is used (Acts 2:13) is referring to the apostles possibly being drunk on the day of Pentecost. Naturally this is a problem because Gleukos is not fermented. How are the disciples drunk on unfermented wine? Many would suggest that even freshly pressed wine has a low level of alcohol.
Another word in Greek for wine, which is the most common form, is; Oinos (οἶνος). This word is used nearly every time wine is mentioned in the New Testament. In fact, it’s used 33 times out of the nearly 50 occurrences in the NT. It is used when speaking of new wine (unfermented) as mentioned in Mark 2:22, Matthew 11:19, and others which is strange because Greek actually has a word for New Wine. The real problem with this word is that at this point in history the Greek speakers used this word to speak about both wine and new wine. This the Greek texts in the Bible do not really differentiate between fermented wine and freshly pressed grapes.
This use of Oinos as a generic word is further seen in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament into Greek. The Hebrew scriptures were finalized into Greek about 132 BCE. This was the primary Old Testament text that was used when the New Testament writers quoted the Old Testament. When the translators did their work they translated both Tirosh (תִּירוֹשׁ) and Yayin (יָ֫יִן) as Oinos (οἶνος), rather than translating Tirosh (תִּירוֹשׁ) as Gleukos (γλεῦκος), which would have carried over the true meaning in the Hebrew. Thus, only the context of the Greek passage can help the reader decide if it’s fermented or unfermented wine.
The third type of wine in the New Testament Greek is Sikera (σίκερα). This word is a loanword from Hebrew which means strong drink. It would have been considered a liquor. It appears in the New Testament just once, in Luke 1:15, when the Angel of The Lord is informing Zechariah about the son that his wife would bear (John the Baptist). It is said that he will consume no Sikera (σίκερα) which would have been somewhat normal for someone with a nazarite lifestyle (Numbers 6).
The last word in Greek for wine or a drink is oxos (όξος). Oxos is a sour wine usually used as a cheap pain killer. It was commonly given to people in the military or people who were ill and in a lot of pain. Virtually the only time in the New Testament where this wine is mentioned is in the ending of the gospels when Jesus is offered wine on a sponge.
Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. (Matthew 27:48 NIV)
Thus, the Greek of the New Testament really gives us no linguistic reason to believe that there is any difference between fermented and unfermented wines. As far as I am concerned, this is neither an admission that he drank alcoholic nor is it a way to prove that he didn’t drink fermented wine. It basically completely muddies the water. We will have to look for other indicators to decide what kind of wine Jesus drank.
For contextual arguments I believe that there is solid evidence showing that Jesus had alcoholic wine. But before we get into the evidence let us take a look at the claim that Jesus never drank alcohol, specifically because it was a sin (as stated in the quote above). To engage in some dialogue here is another quote from an advocate that Jesus never had alcohol.
I explained that Jesus neither drank nor created fermented, alcoholic wine. That would have been disobedience to His Father’s Word. Disobedience is sin and Jesus never sinned.
“… but (He) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
I then took him to the following passage of Scripture that Jesus, the fulfillment of the Levitical Priesthood and our High Priest, would have obeyed. Had He not done so, He would neither be the fulfillment of the Levitical Priesthood nor would He be our High Priest. He would have been just another sinner man, like everyone else.
“Do not drink wine nor strong drink … when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;” (Leviticus 10:9,10 KJV)
The first folly of this block of reasoning is that somehow drinking alcohol would have been disobedience to God and Jesus never sinned so obviously he did not drink alcohol. There is absolutely no evidence in the Bible, whatsoever, that states drinking alcohol is sinful. The only reference that can be used is from Leviticus 9 when God reprimanded the Israelites because Aaron’s sons (Nadab and Abihu) got killed by God because they are getting drunk and trying to make mock offerings in the tabernacle. Nowhere do the scriptures state that the Levites could not consume alcohol. This sentiment is echoed again in Ezekiel 44:21.
“Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.“
The rebuke in Leviticus only says that when entering the tabernacle you must not be intoxicated. Additionally, we must recall that even the priests drank fermented wine.
Lastly, when people engage in these types of debates they always have to misrepresent the Word in order to make their argument. Take a quick look at the verse in Leviticus quoted above……..what is missing? What is the “…” there for? The answer will reveal to you the tricks that have to be played to make this verse apply to their advantage.
The text that was left out of the passage was “neither you nor your sons.” Who is “you” and who are “your sons”? This is why context is king when interpreting the Bible. This command from God was not a blanket command to all people to all times. Verse 8 says “The Lord then spoke to Aaron, saying,” so we know that this command from God was specifically for Aaron, the Levites, and more importantly, his sons. Why only Aaron and his sons? Because they were the only ones dumb enough to get drunk and mock God in his own dwelling place. They were also the only ones who could access the Holiest place in the tabernacle.
Jesus And John Drinking Contrasted
So now that we have correctly addressed the argument made by the wine skeptics, let us look at the whole New Testament (not cherry picked and misused verse) and see what it has to say about alcohol.
Jesus said, “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Luke 7:33-34)
In verse 33 Jesus is making a contrast between John “drinking no wine” and Jesus’ own practice of consuming wine. Jesus goes on to say the religious leaders accused Him of being a drunkard because He drank wine. Thus this verse in Luke 7 strongly suggests that Jesus did indeed partake of alcoholic wine. Why else would he make the comparison between He and John? And why would he not explain that he only drinks non-alcoholic wine? If he only drank unfermented wine then why would they be accusing him? They already had enough to be mad at him about.
Jesus Turns Water Into Alcoholic Wine
Jesus said to them, “Fill the water-pots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”So they took it to him. 9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine (οἶνος), and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10 NASB)
A few things to note here is that the Greek word here does not help us interpreting the passage, but the context does. The fact of the matter is that alcoholic wine was served at weddings. This could be argued historically but even that is not needed. One look at this passage and anyone can see why this wine was alcoholic. The head waiter said that most serve the good wine first, and then serves the poorer wine after the participants have already consumed wine for a while. Why would anyone serve wine in this way?
This is done because when one first starts consuming a good wine they are completely un-intoxicated and the taste and the quality of the wine is easily noticed. Therefore, if you want to maintain your family reputation you wanted people to taste and enjoy a quality wine. Once the guests have drunk freely they bring out the cheap wine because now the guests are slightly intoxicated and will not notice the quality difference in the wine. This was also done because weddings in that culture were huge. Absolutely everyone came that could possibly come. So, the families providing wine HAD to be smart and serve some good wine and some poor wine so they did not have to take a second mortgage to pay for the wedding. That “good wine” was what Jesus produced. The head waiter recognized it as the alcoholic kind.
Wine At The Communion
So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? (1 Corinthians 11:20-22 NIV)
Here we can see 2 things clearly. The first is that wine seemed perfectly fine to be consumed at the communion meals at church (just like it was at the last supper). The second thing is that the wine was clearly alcoholic. We know this because by the time the poorer attendees made it there some of the others were already so full of wine that they were drunk. Of course this is the same word for wine as the rest of the wine in the NT. No distinction between wines is given in the NT as it is in the OT.
Wine At The Last Supper
This is a more difficult thing to determine but it seems to me that the wine from the last supper and also passover was fermented. (We just saw above that Paul and the churches practices communion with fermented wine). The other reason I believe this to be true is that Jesus makes a very clear reference to the Drink Offering in Exodus 29:38-40. This offering of flour, oil, animal, and wine Oinos (οἶνος), were to be poured out upon the altar.
Likewise Jesus states that the wine at the supper was symbolic of the His blood which would be poured out (on the altar) as a sacrifice for all sins. So perhaps fermented wine would have been the right wine for the illustration.
In addition, the passover was months after the harvesting of grapes. In order to have the wine preserved it would have certainly fermented some in storage. Prior to the invention of pasteurization, fermentation was something which happened in all grape juices whether a fermenting agent was consciously introduced or not and it happened with a quickness. The last supper, then, would have had wine and not grape juice or sweet wine.
Wine as an offering to God
What is striking about the OT is how many times fermented drinks are used in offerings or described as a gift to the Israelites. In Deuteronomy 14:26 the Israelites are instructed to offer fermented wine or another fermented drink to the Lord as a tithe.
Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented/strong drink(וּבַשֵּׁכָ֔ר), or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice.
If the Israelites are expected to tithe strong fermented drinks then one has to conclude that they were also allowed to drink it and that it was a blessing from the Lord. In fact, when the allowance for money changing is described in Deuteronomy 14, the reasoning is that some people live too far away from the future temple and that they might be too blessed to commute with a 10th of their blessing from the Lord (14:24).
I really see no reason to believe that Jesus nor anyone else from His culture had a practice of drinking unfermented wine. We do know from some historians of the time that it was possible to preserve grapes and fruit but it would be incredibly impractical as it would have taken more resources to preserve the grapes than if they had just turned it into wine via fermentation. It certainly would not have been a common practice.
I would also point out the New Testament really only condemns drunkenness. No clear prohibition is given in drinking alcohol entirely. Let us end with a few quotes from the New Testament that I will let the readers digest on their own.
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18 NIV)
Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. (1 Timothy 5:23 NIV)
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. [Story referring to the good Samaritan] (Luke 10:34 NIV)
Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. (John 4:46 NASB)
It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. (Romans 14:21-22 NASB)
Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain. (1 Timothy 3:8 NASB)
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good (Titus 2:3 NASB)
25 thoughts on “Did Jesus Drink Wine Or Grape Juice?”
God’s standard is high. Jesus met that standard and lived a sinless life. He did not allow any form of intoxicant such that His mind could be clear enough to hear the Holy Spirit’s promptings. He also did not cause anyone to stumble by His own actions. His life was pure. Based on this understanding of who God is, we can conclude that the wine that Jesus turned to was unfermented.
Unfortunately your conclusion disagrees with the Biblical texts…..as nice as the reasoning sounds.
From your article: “Once the guests have drunk freely they bring out the cheap wine because now the guests are slightly intoxicated and will not notice the quality difference in the wine.”
The Bible clearly says that getting drunk (intoxicated) is a sin. Do you mean to tell us that the people at the wedding were already “slightly intoxicated” and Jesus made more alcoholic wine in order to help them get all the way there?
Please direct me to a scripture that shows Jesus/God facilitating sin. Or Maybe Jesus was more concerned with the reputation of the family than the poor souls he was helping get more drunk?
I think you’re confused because you’re assuming things. Does the Bible condemn drunkenness? Sure does. Does the Bible condemn intoxication? No. Intoxication is a sliding scale. Even a single sip is intoxication.
Now, to your point about Jesus’ intensions. Jesus provided wine for the party. He did not encourage people to get drunk. It’s the attendees responsibility to control how much they take in. When the person says that usually poor wine is brought out once people have “drunk freely” he’s not stating that the entire wedding party is drunk or almost drunk. Everyone who’s been to a wedding knows that there is a sliding scale of consumption. Some people are drunk before dinner is already served. Some don’t drink at all. Jesus wasn’t trying to get wasted. He was preventing an embarrassment for the hosts and if God is going to turn water into wine, of course it’s going to be good wine. The kind that He asks for in offerings to himself in the OT. Aged and fermented.
The author(s) who composed this article did an eminently excellent and scholarly work in doing so, both in terms of content, writing style, punctuation, grammar, and syntax. It accurately presents the subject matter and helps to illuminate the actual truth that fermented wine was used and consumed by Israelites and Christians. This is a subject I am very familiar with, as I have been involved in federal litigation involving government officials infringing on my religious freedom and right to drink wine for Communion, Passover, and Sabbaths. During such case, the district court asked me to explain why grape juice was not an adequate substitute for the wine, and I wrote a lengthy brief and declaration explaining why. Much of what I wrote is similar to material presented above, but I also presented additional material and information not presented above. For example, Israelites were explicitly REQUIRED by commands of God to use and drink fermented alchol wine as a libation with certain sacrifices/offerings. For the actual declaration I wrote on the matter, see Jehovah v. Clarke, et al, #1:12cv87 (E.D. Va), Docket #135, ¶¶9-10, 11(A-L), & 12-19. On appeal, the appellate court did not accurately describe my Communion practice in its opinion when it stated it includes eating cinnamon, bitter herbs, sugar, olive oil, water, and other stuff with the wine, see Jehovah v. Clarke, et al, 798 F3d 169 (4th Cir 2015), when in actuality such components are part of the Seder Meal of the Passover and not part of the Communion practice observed during the Seder Meal. In any event, the federal appellate court ruled in my favor on everything, and government officials subsequently changed their policies to again allow wine consumption for Communion. During the case, court officials commented that one cannot seriously contend that using wine for Communion and the Passover is not scriptural. Similarly, one cannot seriously or truthfully contend that grape juice (non-fermented alcohol) was used or required for Biblical religious practices. There is no scriptural support for such a proposition. In contrast, using wine is explicitly mentioned numerous times, explicitly required by commands of God, and the permissibility of such is repeatedly indicated explicitly and implicitly. I’d like to give a special thanks to the author(s) and publishers of the above article, and to this website for producing and sharing such. It is excellent and accurately presents wine is allowed and wine was used, and that such wine was fermented grape juice and contained alcohol/ethanol.
Thanks for reading and commenting! I wish I could have done a deeper dive but most people won’t read long articles XDD
I will read your work work in some details if I can.
Well done! It’s amazing how distorted our view can get when we view something thru man-made religion, something Yeshua/Jesus saved his most vicious criticism for. The Word is champion, our views must submit to that. Again, great article and wise answers.
Drinking non-alcoholic or unfermented wine was quite common in ancient Israel in Old and Neww Testament days. So the author’s “conclusion” is totally erroneous and false. In fact, in those days when there was no pasteurization or refrigeration they could keep some varieties of grapes feresh for as much as 12monts. It was quite common to press the grapes immediately and drink the juice as squeezed into the cup. In the Bible, sweet wine always refers to unfermented, non-alcoholic grape juice. The ancient languages had no word for alcohol but they could sure describe alcoholic effects. For instance men like Plutarch, Aristotle and Columella described it as “going to the head.” The author of this article has no clue what he’s talking about other than to promote sin
The existence of non-alcoholic wine was rare as creating such wine required it to be only a day old or less or it needed to be kept in a cool place, usually buried or cellared. The ancient sources such as Pliny describe the wine making process for the usual styles of wine and the grape selections.
The reason why non-alcoholic wine was so rare (not common) is because wine will ferment naturally on its own from just the wild yeast all around us. Fermentation starts in less than 6 hours. Obviously the rate of yeast replication is slower when it’s just wild yeast but it still happens rapidly. Even a wine that’s 3 days old can have upwards of 4-7% alcohol depending on the grape variety and the location it’s stored.
If you bothered to read the article you’d know that there were words to indicate alcoholic wine from sweet wine. I highly suggest you study the topic more.
As for drinking grape juice that’s been freshly pressed in a cup, that’s not common and I’ll grant you a monetary prize for finding an ancient source describing it as such.
This author is a Loophole seeker, who has installed himself on the throne of his life, casting the true and the Living GOD of the Bible aside, preferring to be “like as god”…hopefully GOD hasn’t given him over to the “unclean spirit” and he is able to repent of “stumbling the weaker brother”…the very 1st sip of alcoholic beverages contain “pharmacia” or witchcraft, rottenness brought on by fermentation, Immeadiate inability to resist consuming more intoxicating “wine” leading to all manner of sin. (Ephesians 5:18, Habakkuk 2:15, Lamentations 4:21, Leviticus 10:9-10) Seek ye first the Kingdom of God …and not to please our flesh, not because we have to, but because we get to! Thank you LORD.
If you can’t refute the actual information presented you’re wasting your time. Vilifying anyone who disagrees with you isn’t an effective form of debate.
Admin I have Pastored over 30 years and have witnessed the way of alcohol. I believe the same as Steve that anyone can justify their belief by engaging in any thing they desire and look for verses to satisfy their behaviour and sum it all up with a fancy piece of paper, (of which I have a few)…
Pure Blood from Dt. 32:14 is a forerunner to Christ giving us the Pure Blood. At communion if we have the Pure Blood and it’s never to be fermented or leaven. Also simply put if Jesus is God then He would never give the devil a foot hold and by our standards .08 percent in your body makes one intoxicated to drive, Christ does not live by our standards we must live by His. To casually say He drank alcohol would bring God down to our level and opens the door up to so many “Jesus likely did it so I can mix it up in my basement”. Clearly you have never spent time around drinkers and saw that they seem to consume the whole bottle not a glass…
You are accountable in leading people to a closer relationship with Christ or use excuses to a watered down (or wined down), life with Christ. James 3:1
While I respect the work you have done for the church and for the Lord, I have to sincerely tell you that your experience does not negate the simple truth of the Bible in it’s original language. Likewise, your logic of why you think it’s sinful is also questionable. Sex has ruined many lives. I would suggest that sexual sin is probably more of a problem in the world than alcohol. Yet, in the proper context God not only approves of it but he encourages it.
Likewise, wine is considered a blessing the scriptures. In fact, the verse you referenced as “pure blood” is one example of the Lord blessing his people with wine. However, the passage does not say pure blood, unless you’re reading the KJV and that particular passage was not rendered well in the KJV. The Hebrew text does not say “pure”. The word used in the passage refers to fermented or foaming wine. It’s not just me who thinks this. The translators of the LXX who where much closer to Jesus’ time period also translated חֶמֶר into Greek as wine, not “pure”. Keep in mind that this was the Greek translation that Paul and NT writers quoted from. So, I don’t see Dt 32:14 as having anything to do with being a form or a type or even an allusion of Jesus. Had the text actually read pure blood, it still doesn’t make it a foreshadow of Christ. OT foreshadowings are more often our own opinion placed on the text, not the text itself telling us it’s a foreshadowing. Literally anything can be constructed to be a foreshadowing because it’s just the practice of pairing similar sounding things. It’s not real theology work.
I would conclude my response by re-stating that claiming Jesus didn’t drink wine because it was a sin is not a real argument because it places a non-existent regulation on Jesus. Nothing in the OT describes wine as being sinful (unless in excess) or defiling. God even called for a wine offering in the Temple and Tabernacle. Nearly every prophetic oracle recounted God blessing Israel with wine.
Thank you for this info. I’m a recovering alcoholic. I called on the Lord in the depth of my alcoholism. So many people in the church justified it before me. Told me it was okay to drink. God was with me in the beginning. But by the 3rd year after calling on Him and me trying to justify what was taught to me, He left me. For a whole year I called on Him time and time again and He turned His face from me. His presence was gone. I could not feel Him anymore. You are a slave to what has mastered you. I was a slave to wine. The day I decided to choose Him over alcohol, He was there in full jealous fury and tenderness all in the same emotion. When you seek reasons to justify your sin, you are a slave to it. The fact is, people love their sin. If our bodies are the holy dwelling place, the temple, and we are all priests after the resurrection, would it not make sense that we would follow the tabernacle rules?
Rebekah, I am happy to hear that you were able to overcome your alcoholism. It’s a plague for many. However, your addiction to alcohol is irrelevant to the question of whether or not Jesus drank alcoholic wine or if it’s a sin for us to drink it.
Like other addictions, the problem is not with the underlying thing that a person is addicted to but with the way it’s used. For example, many people have food addictions or sex addictions. Both are perfectly healthy things until a person stops partaking in the correct manner.
Now, I want to address some of your statements.
1. “You are a slave to what has mastered you. I was a slave to wine.”
I think it’s dangerous to assume that because YOU were addicted to a slave to something that everyone else is. The fact of the matter is that I don’t like alcohol enough to addicted to it and I really don’t like to be drunk. My personality and my physiology prevent me from getting addicted to it. For me, alcohol just makes me tired. Most alcoholics get excited or even happy when drinking. That is not true for me. Of course, some alcoholics just use alcohol as a coping mechanism for life but if that is true the issue isn’t really addition but a lack of mental and emotional stability.
2. “The day I decided to choose Him over alcohol, He was there in full jealous fury and tenderness all in the same emotion.”
I am happy to hear that your relationship with the Lord was renewed but doubt he ever left you. My assumption is that your shame and guilt about your alcoholism prevented you from connecting with him. It’s human nature for addicts to isolate mentally and emotionally while in the throws of an addiction which they feel shame about.
3. “When you seek reasons to justify your sin, you are a slave to it. The fact is, people love their sin.”
I don’t disagree with you here. But drinking alcohol isn’t a sin.
4. “If our bodies are the holy dwelling place, the temple, and we are all priests after the resurrection, would it not make sense that we would follow the tabernacle rules?”
This is a logic game that leads to any number of false conclusions. The priests were also supposed to wear while linen garments before entering. Should we also wear the white linen at all times? What about the turbans? See the issue with playing word association and logic games?
Could you comment on Habakkuk 2:15 as it relates to (or not) the wedding events in John 2? How were the prophets viewed by the Jews compared to the Law? A part of the law? Just as authoritative? Thanks for the response!
Chuck, sorry for the late reply. I would love to comment on Hab 2:15. To make things simple I will answer question by question.
“Hab 2:15 as it relates to (or not) the wedding events in John 2?”
I am assuming the correlation made by others to the wedding in Cana is Habakkuk 2:15 appears to be condemning giving others wine. However, it only appears that way if you don’t read all of verse 15.
““Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors,
pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk,
so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!” (Hab 2:15)
The wine was given so that they might intoxicate people and abuse them sexually….or at least lustfully/visually. There is no prohibition in the OT about drinking wine. In fact, it’s considered a blessing from God and is commanded to be given in some of the ritual sacrifices.
“How were the prophets viewed by the Jews compared to the Law? A part of the law? Just as authoritative? “
This is a question with multiple answers. It depended on where you lived and in what time period.
In the first temple period, prophets reigned supreme. They had little written scriptures at this point and it was the prophet’s job to deliver God’s word. After the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and the Jews went into exile, they still had prophets but they also had nearly 1000 years of ancestry and recorded history. Some of that recorded history was from the previous prophets who’s words had now become scripture. Once a body of scripture exists new prophets are measured against it and the reliance on new prophecy become smaller each passing generation.
By Jesus’ time, the written (and even oral) law reigned supreme. Prophets were routinely killed or told to stand down. The ruling body of the Jews were religious leaders who clung to the law and were threatened by new prophets and leaders.
That answer probably does not help you much but that is the answer. Each time period in Jewish history has it’s unique features. The role of prophets is one of them.
Your understanding of fermentation is not correct. Please read: http://icotb.org/resources/Patton,William-BibleWines.pdf — fermentation only happens when sugar or yeast is introduced. William Patton who is a D.D., provides extensive historical information concerning this topic and should be read by all before making any remarks concerning what is historical or linguistic.
No, I brew myself at home. I am very familiar with how fermentation works. Also, his article leaves out a number of ancient sources that describe how difficult it was to keep grape juice from fermenting on it’s own. If a grape juice is not boiled (and often it was not) then it will ferment on it’s own even without additional yeast.
But once again, we should ask ourselves if 1st century Roman wine was the only wine in Israel. While the Romans had a lot of ways to make wine, even the non-intoxicating kind, they were unique in the ancient world. In Jewish culture, in Israel, the Jewish method for making wine was most certainly more abundant than the Roman. And Jewish wine was usually alcoholic, which is why so many stories in the OT are about drunkenness.
I would also point out that just because non-alcoholic wine existed, that does not mean that that was what Jesus drank. It still exits today but if someone told you a story about wine drinking, you bet everyone would assume they were referring to the alcoholic type. It’s the most abundant and usual kind and has been for centuries.
Thank you for the article. I do not drink fermented grape juice or alcohol in my daily life (the whole if meat offends my brother stuff) but can’t bring myself to drink Welch’s grape juice in the observance of the Lord’s Supper. As a Baptist I know I am in the firm minority in this belief. About every three or four years something crops up in my life making me revisit the scriptures that relate this information and I can’t shake my stance (it would be easier to concede to the grape juice drinkers.) Many of the things you mentioned I researched as well and I find that the “competition” often uses the misuse scriptures to justify abstinence. However, I see James 1:6-7 talking about the tongue as an unruly evil. Yet we are commanded to use it to bless God. Then our bodies (sex), food (gluttony), sleep (laziness)… the list goes on an on. The Samaritan story is a wonderful example with the oil being a picture of the Holy Spirit and the wine being a picture of Christ’s blood.
Only coincidentally, I am also a baker. I use yeast (leaven) in so many ways. My sourdough starter is wild caught and through the years I’ve learned the enormous difficulty of cleaning out all of the leaven in your home back in the old festivals. If you’ll go back and look into the old baking days the old bakers knew the best place to harvest wild leaven is, you’ll never guess, on the skins of grapes.
Another coincidence (and I didn’t even care about this stuff in college) is that I’m a Chemical Engineer. Learning and studying the fermentation process you find that it brings the grape juice to a state of being that will not harbor any leaven of any sort. Leaven is purged out and you use the wine as an antiseptic. Just like Christ’s blood is our antiseptic for the penalty of sin. Even with these scriptures and truths in tow I found myself waffling and wanting to appease. Then finally I came across this…
Deuteronomy 32:14 – “pure blood of the grape”. If I am not mistaken there are 15 different words God could have used for “pure” blood and the one He used there (only once in the entire bible) was chemer meaning wine with it’s etymology being rooted in chamar which means to boil up as per the fermentation process.
After that… I rested.
Most of us use some form of personal glory or intention to justify our stance in God’s Word. I believe for most people it is intrinsic. However, when we can remove our own intentions and desires and really seek out the truth without the layer of emotion then we often find things at our feet that we never noticed before. I used to be a staunch “grape juice” guy and honestly when I was studying I really really wanted to be right. Now I’m not saying I know it all about these scriptures, but now at least I have peace.
Michael, I agree that we must not be a stumbling block for our brothers and sisters. That is why I don’t drink in certain company.
If you don’t mind I would like to comment on the verbiage used in Deuteronomy 32:14. Often wording in the psalms or the Hebrew songs (as in DT 32) certain words are selected based on metric as well as functionality. What I mean is, sometimes the author might use a word because it fits the song/psalm rhythm better than other options. Additionally, chamar is a finicky word. Used in certain contexts it can mean very different things. It can also mean Red, Tranquil, and other things. The passage could easily read “red wine”. However, when comparing with the LXX Greek and the Hebrew Samaritan Pentateuch, I think the author’s intent was (as you said) a boiled and pure wine from the root wood chamar. This passage does fall in line with other OT passages where God instructs the Israelites to make and enjoy wine. Wine was always considered a blessing, just like sex, food, etc. It’s the abuse of these things that creates sin.
Also, I brew at home and I can tell you that most wines and beers will ferment rather quickly after it’s turned into juice. Especially grapes that are pressed manually. Within 2 hours the fermentation can begin without adding any additional yeast to the juice. Unless it’s temperature is reduced below like 50 degrees, that juice will become wine.
I would say the Author wrote this article to justify his Wine (alcohol) drinking as most Christians like to do. If Jesus Drank fermented Wine,then he puts his stamp of approval on all the sorrow it brings.(Death,Breaks up the family,etc).Jesus gives life,not takes it. It makes no sense to say Jesus sipped the rotten fermented grape when the purity and life is in the fresh grape.(fruit of the vine)
You’re equating drinking with being a drunk and they are not the same. Just like sex, used in the proper context it’s a good thing but in the wrong context it’s a grave sin against the body and holy Spirit.
Also, grapes start fermenting in 12 hours or less and can complete fermentation in less than a week in many cheap wines. The only way to delay fermentation is by burying the juice in very deep holes to get the temp below 45 degrees….which is hard to do in hot climates. There is no historical or linguistic reason to believe that Jesus drank grape juice.
Also God commanded the Israelites to produce and tithe their wine… The fermented type in Hebrew.