Question: I would like to chime in on the wine discussion. I believe the unfermented wine theory unravels with the pull of a thread. That thread is found when Jesus speaks a parable of wineskins.
Answer: First off I believe it is obvious that Jesus knew a lot about wine. His talk in Gethsemane regarding vine-dressing is very knowledgeable. He knows more about grape vines than most people I’ve ever met. In fact, I can only name a couple people that would fully understand the analogy he is making there.
I could write pages about the knowledge he speaks of pruning and tying up the vines and the trunk that serves to nourish the fruiting canes which come and go. The analogy is beautifully matched to the relationship we have with Christ… beautiful. I digress a bit, but I did want to point out the knowledge he is speaking of here, it is authoritative.
Jesus gave a parable about the old covenant and the new covenant. He said that you do not put new wine in old wineskins. Most people in the present would wonder the meaning of this. To a person who enjoys making wine at home, it is very clear. When you put newly crushed grapes into anything, they outgas (as yeast will eat the sugars and releases CO2 which causes expansion).
An old wine skin will burst-as Jesus says it would. A new wineskin is strong, stretchable and will contain the fermenting wine, allowing containment so the pressure can be let out when the wineskin owner realizes it needs to be out-gassed. An old wine skin will not allow for this. It will crack and the wine will be lost. Another beautiful analogy. Jesus’ new covenant can’t be contained by the old covenant.
Notice, this is “new wine,” not old rotten grape juice that is ready to be thrown out. They are not even saying that the old wine is bad, just that it won’t expand any farther. The old covenant had served its purpose. It was not bad, God would not make a bad covenant. Jesus brought a new covenant for these times, one we could all partake in. Beautiful analogy and understood by all in those times because they understood wine fermentation.
Wine was more common in those days than it is now. It had been around since before the flood (as Noah knew how to grow a vineyard and make wine, although he couldn’t control his consumption and he got drunk).
If I may digress, I would like to add that being a drunkard is obviously a bad thing. So is being a glutton. However, we are not told to stop eating; we are just told to not be gluttons. We are not told to not drink wine, we are told to not be drunkards. I will also admit that there is what we would call hard liquor today, and we should avoid that, as it is equivalent to strong drink . I want to make it clear that I am NOT in support of people being drunkards or drinking hard liquor.
Back to the theory that unfermented (grape juice) is mentioned in the Bible. Greeks had more words for everything than any other language that I know of. They have at least four words for love. Yet, you are asking us to believe that they didn’t have a different word for fermented and unfermented drink, or wine and grape juice. I would bet that there are a lot of juices that they had words for that aren’t mentioned in the Bible, it does not mean they don’t have words for it. So I would like to go another route here.
Is there any wording in the Bible to the word wine being unfermented ? There are plenty of places where it is clearly fermented, but are there any clearly unfermented examples? If there are none, I think it is dangerous to infer otherwise.
This is a situation where our own personal beliefs could impede on the truth, and that can be very deceiving to ourselves and to others. In instances like this, we should let the Bible say what it says and not let our personal beliefs distort anything. God’s word stands eternally, and anything that requires special interpretation should always be suspect.
We may never see eye to eye on this issue and I don’t think we have to. This is not a salvation topic. I think one day we can ask him ourselves, if the cup that he will drink from at that time is fermented or unfermented.
Thank you for listening to my understanding and may God bless us all.
Answer: First, I want to thank you for this question as I know many people around the world have these same questions that you have asked about wine in the Bible. Especially are Christians concerned about the answers to these questions because they are concerned about pleasing Jesus in everything they do. This includes what we put into our bodies which are temples of the Holy Spirit.
Obvious, yes, Jesus knew a lot about wine, and we could say He knows everything about it, since He is God as well as man. You might argue He limited his knowledge while he was on earth as a man, but we would still agree that He would never say anything wrong, but only what God the Holy Spirit directed Him to say. So, therefore, we know He would not lead us astray concerning this subject of alcohol. With this in mind let us look at a rather lengthly detailed quote from Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University
Since this quote is several pages long, I will not put quotation marks, but all of this information is Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi’s. Due to the fact that I cannot improve on what he has said on the subject of wine, or how he said it, I will give his arguements rather than mine. After his quote I will attempt to answer your other questions. Also, the references from his article will be at the end of my letter to you.
As you will notice we are starting at Part II of his article, therefore, I would stongly suggest that you read all that Dr. Bacchiocchi has to say about wine in the Bible. We will give a link to his site after my answers.
PART II: NEW WINE IN NEW WINESKINS
Importance of the Saying. Christ’s allusions to wine in Matthew 9:17 and Luke 5:39 are seen by moderationists as an indication of His approval of the moderate use of alcoholic wine. While the miracle of the wine at the wedding of Cana allegedly proves that Jesus made alcoholic wine, the two sayings to be examined now supposedly show that Jesus commended the moderate use of alcoholic wine.
The first saying occurs in the three parallel passages (Matt 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37-38). The second is found only in Luke 5:39 as an additional statement not found in the narratives of either Matthew or Mark. Since Luke incorporates both sayings, we shall confine ourselves to the passage as found in Luke, which says: “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ‘the old is good'” (Luke 5:37-39).
“New Wine”: Fermented or Unfermented? The phrase “new wine” ( oinos neos ) occurs in the New Testament only in this passage and those parallel to it. The question here is the nature of the “new wine.” Is it fermented or unfermented? A common view is that it denotes wine recently pressed, but already in a state of active fermentation. Such wine, it is said, could only be safely placed in new wineskins, because they alone were elastic enough to withstand the pressure of the gas-producing fermentation.
This view is expressed, for example, by Jimmy L. Albright in his dissertation on “Wine in the Biblical World.” He writes: “The biblical mention of bursting wineskins (Matt 9:17; Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37) shows that gas-producing fermentation took place in the wines produced in Israel, a chemical action that began within a few hours after the pressing of the grapes. The juice usually had begun to ferment as it stood in the lower pressing vats but was soon poured into jars or into skins. . . . Freshly made wine was put into new wineskins; old skins would burst under the pressure.”30
In a similar vein R. C. Lenski comments: “When it is fresh, the skin stretches to a degree, but when it is old it becomes stiff and bursts quickly under pressure. People therefore never put new wine, which still ferments and causes pressure, into old, dried-out skins.”31
This popular interpretation is very imaginative but not factual. Anyone familiar with the pressure caused by the gas-producing fermentation knows that no bottle, whether of skin or glass, can withstand such pressure. Job knew this when he said: “Behold, my heart is like wine that has no vent; like new wineskins , it is ready to burst” (Job 32:19).
The Encyclopedia Biblica acknowledges this fact, saying: “It is impossible that the must could ever have been put into skins to undergo the whole process of fermentation, as is usually stated, the action of the gas given off in the early stages of the process being much too violent for any skins to withstand. Where a large quantity of grapes had to be trodden, it was necessary to relieve the wine vat by transferring the must immediately to earthenware jars, of which the Jews possessed a large variety.”32
Unfermented Grape Juice . “The difficulty connected with this parabolic word,” as Alexander B. Bruce rightly points out, “is not critical or exegetical, but scientific. The question has been raised: could even new, tough skins stand the process of fermentation?”
The answer is obviously negative. Thus, Bruce himself suggests that “Jesus was not thinking at all of fermented, intoxicating wine, but of ‘must,’ a non-intoxicating beverage, which could be kept safely in new leather bottles, but not in old skins which had previously contained ordinary wine, because particles of albuminoid matter adhering to the skin would set up fermentation and develop gas with an enormous pressure.”33
Some argue that the “new wine” spoken of must have been “a new wine which had not fully fermented, but which had come so near the completion of that process that it could with safety be put into new skins, whose elasticity would be sufficient to resist the ‘after-fermentation’ which would ensue.”34 The weakness of this hypothesis is twofold.
First, wine which was near the completion of the process of fermentation could have safely been stored in old wineskins as well, because the neck opening would have provided an adequate release for the remaining fermenting gas. Second, the fermentation process, when permitted, was carried on not in wineskins, but in large jars, known as habith in Hebrew and dolium to the Romans.35
The only “new wine” which could be stored safely in new wineskins was unfermented must, after it had been filtered or boiled. The skin would be prepared like the amphora, by smearing it with honey or pitch, and after the must was poured in, it would be tightly closed and sealed.
The reason that a new skin was required for ne w wine is that an old skin would almost inevitably have, as Lees and Burns explain, “some of the decayed albuminous matter adhering to their sides.”36 This would cause the new wine to ferment. On the other hand, if new wineskins were used to store unfermented new wine, no fermentation-causing agents would be present in the skins themselves. Thus, the wine would be preserved from fermentation and the wineskins from rupture.
A Pagan Testimony . It is significant to note in this regard that Columella, the renowned Roman agriculturist who was a contemporary of the apostles, emphasizes the need to use a new amphora to preserve fresh must unfermented: “That must may remain always sweet as though it were fresh, do as follows.
Before the grape-skins are put under the press, take from the vat some of the freshest possible must and put it in a new wine-jar [ amphoram novam ], then daub it over and cover it carefully with pitch, that thus no water may be able to get in. Then sink the whole flagon in a pool of cold, fresh water so that no part of it is above the surface. Then after forty days take it out of the water. The must will then keep sweet for as much as a year.”37
A similar method was used with new wineskins, which were prepared, like the amphora, by being smeared with honey and pitch, and after being filled with must, were sealed and buried in the earth. Any of the processes described in the previous chapter, such as filtration, boiling, exclusion of air, sulphur fumigation, and reduction of the temperature below 40º F. (4º Celsius), would have been counted on to ensure the preservation of the new wine unfermented in new wineskins. Any two or all of these methods could be combined to ensure the prevention of fermentation.
The Meaning of the Saying. This interpretation is further confirmed by the symbolic meaning of Christ’s saying. The imagery of new wine in new wineskins is an object lesson in regeneration. As fittingly explained by Ernest Gordon, “The old wineskins, with their alcoholic lees, represented the Pharisees’ corrupt nature.
The new wine of the Gospel could not be put into them. They would ferment it. ‘I came not to call the self-righteous but repentant sinners.’ The latter by their conversion become new vessels, able to retain the new wine without spoiling it (Mark 2:15-17, 22). So, by comparing intoxicating wine with degenerate Pharisaism, Christ clearly intimated what his opinion of intoxicating wine was.”38
“It is well to notice,” Ernest Gordon continues, “how in this casual illustration, he [Christ] identifies wine altogether with unfermented wine. Fermented wine is given no recognition. It could be put into any kind of wineskin, however sorry and corrupt. But new wine is like new cloth, which is too good to be used in patching rags. It is a thing clean and wholesome, demanding a clean container. The natural way in which this illustration is used suggests at least a general, matter-of-fact understanding among his Jewish hearers that the real fruit of the vine, the good wine, was unfermented.”39
PART III: IS OLD WINE BETTER?
Importance of the Saying . In Luke Christ’s saying about new wine in fresh wineskins is followed by a similar and yet different statement: “And no one after drinking old wine desires new; for he says, ‘The old is good'” (Luke 5:39). Though this statement is not found in the other Gospels, it forms an integral part of the narrative.
Moderationists attach fundamental importance to this statement because it contains, in their view, Christ’s outspoken commendation of alcoholic wine. Kenneth L. Gentry, for example, speaks of “the well-nigh universal prevalence of men to prefer old (fermented) wine over new (pre- or unfermented) wine. The Lord himself makes reference to this assessment among men in Luke 5:39: ‘And no one, after drinking old wine, wishes for new; for he says, The old is good enough.'”
Everett Tilson sees Luke 5:39 as one of the most challenging texts against those who favor abstinence. He writes: “This attempt to defend Jesus’ preference for the ‘new’ [unfermented] to the ‘old’ [fermented] wine falls victim to the passage in Luke 5:39, long one of the most difficult passages for biblical literalists who favor abstinence. Without a word of criticism, as if expressing a truism with which he himself agrees, Luke records Jesus as saying: ‘And no one after drinking old wine desires new.’ Why? ‘The old is good,’ he answers (5:39)-though far more likely to be both fermented and intoxicating!”
Meaning of “New Wine. ” The first question to address in our study of this passage is whether the “new wine” here has the same meaning as in the two preceding verses. Some think it does not. They see the “new wine” of verse 38 as being wine not fully fermented and that of verse 39 as fully fermented wine but without the mellowness which comes with age. Lees and Burns, the authors of The Temperance Bible-Commentary , favor the view that the “new wine” of verse 38 is “identical in nature, and representative of the same Christian blessings, with the ‘old wine’ of verse 39-being the new preserved and improved by age.”
The meaning of “new wine” in this passage cannot be determined by its general usage in Scripture because in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), the phrase oinos neo s-“new wine” is used to translate both fermented wine as in Job 32:19 and unfermented grape juice as in Isaiah 49:26. In the latter it translates the Hebrew asis which designates unfermented grape juice.
In the passage under consideration it is legitimate to infer that “new wine” has the same meaning in the whole passage, because it is used consecutively without any intimation of change of meaning. The metaphors in both sayings are used without confusion or contradiction. This means that if the “new wine” of verse 38 is, as shown earlier, unfermented grape juice, the same must be true of the “new wine” of verse 39.
Meaning of “Old Wine.” Before discussing whether or not Christ expressed a judgment on the superior quality of “old wine” over “new wine,” it is important to determine whether the “old wine” spoken of is fermented or unfermented. From the viewpoint of quality, age “improves” the flavor not only of fermented wine but also of unfermented grape juice. Though no chemical change occurs, grape juice acquires a finer flavor by being kept, as its fine and subtle particles separate from the albuminous matter and other sedimentations. Thus, the “old wine” esteemed good could refer to grape juice preserved and improved by age.
The context, however, favors the meaning of fermented wine, since Christ uses the metaphor of the “old wine” to represent the old forms of religion and the “new wine” the new form of religious life He taught and inaugurated. In this context, fermented old wine better represents the corrupted forms of the old Pharisaic religion.
Is “Old Wine” Better? In the light of this conclusion, it remains to be determined if Christ by this saying is expressing a value judgment on the superiority of “old [fermented] wine” over “new wine.” A careful reading of the text indicates that the one who says “The old is good” is not Christ but anyone who has been drinking “old wine.” In other words, Christ is not uttering His own opinion, but the opinion of those who have acquired a taste for the old wine. He says simply that anyone who has acquired a taste for old wine does not care for new. We know this to be the case. Drinking alcoholic beverages begets an appetite for stimulants and not for alcohol-free juices.
Christ’s saying does not represent His judgment regarding the superiority of old, fermented wine. Several commentators emphasize this point. In his Commentary on the Gospel of Luke , Norval Geldenhuys says: “The point at issue here has nothing to do with the comparative merits of old and new wine, but refers to the predilection for old wine in the case of those who are accustomed to drink it.”43
The same point is emphasized by Henry Alford in his commentary on the Gospel of Luke. He says: “Observe that there is no objective comparison whatever here between old and new wine; the whole stress is on desireth [desires] and for he saith [says] , and the import of better is subjective : in the view of him who utters it.”44 R. C. H. Lenski states the same truth most concisely: “It is not Jesus who calls the old wine ‘good enough,’ but he that drank it. A lot of old wine is decidedly bad because it has not been prepared properly; age is one thing, excellence with age quite another.”45
In a similar vein, Dr. Jack Van Impe writes: “Does not Jesus say [in Luke 5:39] that old wine is better? Not at all. He simply says that one who has been drinking old wine says it is better. This shows the Lord’s understanding of the habit-forming effect of beverage alcohol. His statement stands true today. Try to sell grape juice on skid row and you will probably have no takers. Those who drink old wine (intoxicating wine) prefer it. They are hooked on it. . . . The secondary message of the parable, then, actually argues for the superiority of new (unfermented) wine, using it as a picture of salvation.”46
The Context of the “Old Wine.” The view that old, fermented wine is better than new wine, would be false even if everyone on earth believed it! And in the passage we are considering is contradicted by the context in which it occurs and by the whole purpose of the illustration. In the immediate context Jesus uses the same word ( palaios ) of old garments, which He obviously did not esteem as better than new ones. The statement about “old wine” seems to contradict the preceding one about “old garment,” but the contradiction disappears when one understands the purpose of the illustration.
In his article on “oinos” (“Wine”) in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament , Heinrich Seeseman notes the apparent contradiction and the significance of the context: “Luke 5:39 seems to contradict what goes before, since it favors the retention of the old. In the context of Luke, however, it is regarded as a warning against over-estimation of the old.”47
The purpose of the illustration is not to praise the superiority of old wine but to warn against an over-estimation of the old forms of religiosity promoted by the Pharisees. Such religiosity consisted, as verse 33 indicates, in the fulfillment of such external ascetic practices as frequent fasting and public prayer. To justify the fact that His disciples did not adhere to such external forms of religiosity, Christ used four illustrations: wedding guests do not fast in the presence of the bridegroom (vv. 34-35); new cloth is not used to patch an old garment (v. 36); new wine is not placed in old wineskins (vv. 37-38); new wine is not liked by those accustomed to drink the old (v. 39).
The common purpose of all the four illustrations is to help people accustomed to the old forms of religion, and unacquainted with the new form of religious life taught by Christ, to recognize that the old seems good only so long as one is not accustomed to the new, which in and of itself is better.
In this context, the old fermented wine seems good only to those who do not know the better new wine. In his book Alcohol and the Bible , Stephen Reynolds perceptively points out the broader implications of Christ’s illustration about the old wine. He says: “Christ warns against the over-estimation of Pharisaism (old wine), but the figure of speech carries with it more than the thought that the Gospel should be regarded more highly than Pharisaism. It also strongly suggests that to those who are perceptive of truth, new wine (unfermented grape juice) is preferable to old (intoxicating) wine. Only the natural man with corrupted taste thinks otherwise.”48
Now back to your other questions:
“Is there any wording in the Bible to the word wine being unfermented? There are plenty of places where it is clearly fermented, but are there any clearly unfermented examples? If there are none, I think it is dangerous to infer otherwise.”
The answer is, yes, many places in the Bible it does show from the context that it is defintly speaking of unfermented grape juice, like in these verses: In, Isaiah 16:10b, grape juice is called “wine” (Hebrew ‘yayin’) when it is still in the press, saying, “No treaders will tread out wine in the presses…” Here are some others: “As for me, I will indeed dwell at Mizpah and serve the Chaldeans who come to us. But you, gather wine and summer fruit and oil, put them in your vessels, and dwell in your cities that you have taken.” (Jeremiah 40:10)
“.then all the Jews returned out of all places where they had been driven, and came to the land of Judah, to Gedaliah at Mizpah, and gathered wine and summer fruit in abundance.” (Jeremiah 40:12)
“Joy and gladness are taken from the plentiful field and from the land of Moab; I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses; no one will tread with joyous shouting- Not joyous shouting!” (Jeremiah 48:33)
“All the best of the oil, all the best of the new wine and the grain, their first fruits which they offer to the Lord, I have given them to you. 13 Whatever first ripe fruit is in their land, which they bring to the Lord, shall be yours.” (Numbers18:12,13)
“to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.” (Nehemiah:10:37)
“For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.” (Nehemiah 10:39)
We know that these were not fermented offerings because no leaven was allowed as an offering. “You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor shall the fat of My sacrifice remain until morning. 19 “The first of the first fruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:18)
8 “Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: 9 “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean,” (Leviticus 10:8-10)
28 ” Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.” (Genesis 27:28) “Then Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Indeed I have made him your master, and all his brethren I have given to him as servants; with grain and wine I have sustained him. What shall I do now for you, my son?” (Genesis 27:37)
Ok, maybe you get the picture, but I will give at least some more sample references: Deuteronomy 7:13; 11:14) Proverbs 3:10
And this one is my favorite, Thus says the Lord: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, Do not destroy it, for a blessing is in it.” (Isaiah 65:8)
(Judges 9:13) (Joel 3:18) “He waters the hills from His upper chambers; The earth is satisfied with the fruit of Your works. 14 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and vegetation for the service of man, that he may bring forth food from the earth, 15 and wine that makes glad the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread which strengthens man’s heart.” (Psalms 104:13-15)
Some Christians think that they need to drink alcohol in order to make them happy, God says the natural produce of the earth that He has created for us, should make us glad! I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy a good glass of fresh grape juice.
You asked for verses that show that the word ‘wine’ is non-alcoholic and I have given many examples. Here are a few more: Judges 9:13; Zechariah 9:7; Psalms 4:7; Proverbs 9:2. The lists go on and on. It should be obvious from these references that the word for ‘wine’ in our English Bibles is a generic term.
You ask are there many words for wine in the original languages, and yes, there are: Hebrew (chemer, chamar, yayin, shekar, tirosh) Greek (oinos, gleukos) There are also other forms of these.
“All expressing the same generic idea, as including all sorts and kinds of the juice of the grape. Wine is generic, just as are the words groceries, hardware, merchandise, fruit, grain, and other words.
“Dr. Frederic R. Lees, of England, the author of several learned articles in Kitto’s Cyclopedia, in which he shows an intimate acquaintance with the ancient languages, says: ‘In Hebrew, Chaldee, Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Latin, and English, the words for wine in all these languages are originally, and always, and inclusively, applied to the blood of the grape in its primitive and natural condition, as well, subsequently, as to that juice both boiled and fermented.”
“Dr. Laurie, on the contrary, says: ‘This word denotes intoxicating wine in some places of Scripture; therefore, it denotes the same in all places of Scripture.’ This not only begs the whole question, but is strange, very strange logic.
“We find the word which denotes the spirit often rendered wind or breath; shall we, therefore, conclude it always means wind or breath, and, with the Sadducees, infer that there is neither angel nor spirit, and that there can be no resurrection?
“So, also, because the word translated heaven often means the atmosphere, shall we conclude that it always means atmosphere, and that there is no such place as a heaven where the redeemed will be gathered and where is the throne of God?
“But the misery and delusion are that most readers of the Bible, knowing of no other than the present wines of commerce, which are intoxicating, leap to the conclusion, wine is wine all the world over-as the wind of our day is inebriating, therefore the wine mentioned in the Bible was intoxicating, and there was none other.” (Bible Wines or Laws of Fermentation and Wines of The Ancients by William Patton)
Also, to conclude that since one has to study a subject out carefully, rather than taking everything at face value in Scripture, would lead us to think that when Jesus said we needed to drink his blood and eat his flesh to be saved, means we have to become cannibals.
Or that when He says we need to hate our parents means that we should take this as a contradiction to the fact that we are to love our parents as Scripture says elsewhere. There is something in these statements that have be taken in context. So it is the word ‘wine’ must be seen in it’s context to see if it is alcoholic or not.
Yes, many teachings of the Word of God take explanation. Jesus spoke in parables often, and these had to be explained. Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit with the gifts on the Church, one of the gifts being the gift of teaching and teachers. Why would we need this gift if everything is understood the first time you read the Bible?
“We may never see eye to eye on this issue and I don’t think we have to. This is not a salvation topic. I think one day we can ask him ourselves, if the cup that he will drink from at that time is fermented or unfermented.”
No, this is not an issue of salvation, as you put it, but it is an area of extreme importance because so many have been deceived into thinking drinking alcohol is encouraged in the Bible. Also, why wait to get to heaven to ask Jesus if the cup He will drink from at that time is fermented or unfermented, when He has made clear the answer to this question from His Word already?
If God did not allow priests to drink alcohol in the earthly tabernacle or temple, why would He allow it in heaven? “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, 10 that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean,” (Leviticus 10:8-10)
When Jesus was here on this earth He always obeyed His Father in Heaven who had said to Him: Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; 32 At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper.” (Proverbs 23:31,32)
Aren’t you a priest and a king in the sight of God, and didn’t God command priests and kings not to drink alcohol?
“The book of Revelation states that those who have accepted Christ as Savior are kings and priests: ‘[.and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.]*’ (Revelation 1: 5-6)
“The apostle Peter also says that we became kings and priests. We are members of a royal family. ‘[But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.]*’ (1 Peter 2:9)
“Because of our salvation through faith in Christ we have become sons, the adopted sons of the King. As such we are members of the King’s family, and the orders that went out to the kings and priests apply to us. We are not to drink so that we will have clear judgment and discernment as God’s representatives in this world.
‘As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ Jesus told His disciples (John 20:21b). As Christians we are sent to witness, to teach the people. This is the responsibility of the believer. ‘[Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,]*’ the Lord Jesus Christ instructed His disciples (Matthew 28:19). In order to teach we must know the difference between right and wrong.
“Therefore I believe that we as Christians are not to drink alcohol.
“On one occasion after I presented this thesis to a youth group a young man got to his feet. ‘The Bible says that the priest isn’t supposed to drink when he’s in the Temple, but what about when he’s outside the Temple? It doesn’t mention that.’
“‘That’s true,’ I told him. ‘But the Bible also says, ‘[For you are the temple of the living God]*’ (2 Corinthians 6:16b). As believers we are always living in God’s temple. We are to think of ourselves as serving God daily in the temple of our bodies, and to do this we must so live as to be usable to Him.’
“The Christian does not drink because he knows the Lord Jesus Christ personally and is a member of His family. The Christian is a king and a priest, and the Bible specifically says that kings and priests are not to drink. The matter of total abstinence, then, depends upon our love for the Lord Jesus Christ. How much do we love Him?” (God is for the Alcoholic by Jerry Dunn with Bernard Palmer)
“And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. 25 Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:24-25) It is clear from this passage what Jesus will drink with us on that wonderful day of our marriage to Him, and that is the ‘fruit of the vine!’
I would like to comment on one more statement that you made and that is where you say: “If I may digress, I would like to add that being a drunkard is obviously a bad thing. So is being a glutton. However, we are not told to stop eating; we are just told to not be gluttons. We are not told to not drink wine, we are told to not be drunkards.”
This is an interesting statement, and kind of sums up what many Christians are teaching these days, as compared with the Bible and days of godly Christians in days gone by. That is as long as you don’t get drunk, it is ok to drink. This could not be farther from the truth, and I encourage you to read another article I have written on this very thing. It is called “Is it alright for Christians to drink alcohol?” It addresses this very issue.
Let me just say that you are putting an assumption in with a fact. The assumption is that the word ‘wine’ in the Bible is always alcoholic. So if you read this into your statement. The statement itself is flawed. It is like asking the question, When did you stop beating your wife? Since the word ‘wine’ in the Bible is not always alcoholic, then it would be all right to drink some wine (grape juice) in moderation, even as Paul told Timothy to do.
So, we must look at the context each time to determine which kind of wine we are speaking of, even though in our culture right now, we refer to wine as only alcoholic. This was not the case in the past, nor is it the case in the original languages of the Bible, as shown in this answer.
God bless you and thank you for the questions,
Gary Thomas Panell
|30. Jimmy L. Albright, “Wine in the Biblical World: Its Economic, Social, and Religious Implications for New Testament Interpretation” (Ph. D. Dissertation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1980), pp. 129, 137.
31. R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel(Columbus, Ohio, 1942), p. 318.
32. Encyclopedia Biblica, eds. T. K. Cheyne and J. Sutherland Black, 1903 ed., s. v. “Wine and Strong Drink,” vol. 4, p. 5315.
33. Alexander Balman Bruce, The Synoptic Gospels in The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, 1956), p. 500. A similar argument is presented by Ernest Gordon (n. 10), p. 20.
34. Horace Bumstead, “The Biblical Sanction for Wine,”Bibliotheca Sacra 38 (January 1881): 82.
35. See Encyclopedia Biblica (n.32), p. 5315; also William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities , s. v. “Vinum .” For a description of the storage of large jars after the first fermentation, see James B. Pritchard, Gibeon:Where the Sun Stood Still (Princeton, 1962), pp.90-98.
36. Frederic Richard Lees and Dawson Burns, The Temperance Bible-Commentary (London, 1894), p. 266.
37. Columella, On Agriculture 12, 29, trans. E. S. Forster and Edward H. Heffner, The Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1955).
38. Ernest Gordon (n. 10), p. 20.
39. Ibid., p. 21.
40. Kenneth L. Gentry (n. 1), p. 54.
41. Everett Tilson, Should Christians Drink? (New York, 1957), p. 31.
42. Lees and Burns (n. 36), p. 295.
43. Norval Geldenhuys, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke,The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, 1983), p. 198.
44. Henry Alford, The New Testament for English Readers(Boston, 1875), vol. 1, p. 324.
45. R. H. Lensk, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel(Columbus, Ohio, 1953), p. 320.
46. Jack Van Impe, Alcohol: The Beloved Enemy (Royal Oak, Michigan, 1980), pp.121-122.
47. Heinrich Seeseman, ” Oinos, ” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament , ed., Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids, 1968), vol. 5, p. 163.
48. Stephen M. Reynolds, Alcohol and the Bible (Little Rock, Arkansas, 1983), p. 42.
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