What Does The Bible Say About
Drinking Alcoholic Beverages?
By Betty Miller
Proverbs 20:1 (KJV):
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby
is not wise.
Proverbs 20:1 (AMP):
Wine is a mocker, strong drink a riotous brawler, and whoever errs or reels
because of it is not wise.
The Bible has much to say
about many subjects; and drinking alcoholic beverages is one of them. There
is a debate in religious circles in regard to the question - was the wine in the
Bible referring to grape juice or fermented grape juice, which is alcoholic in
nature? To answer this question we must study the original language in which the
Bible was written.
Actually, there are fifteen words from
the Hebrew and Greek languages, which are translated "wine" in the Bible. When
we compare these words in the context in which they are used we can better
understanding their scriptural meanings.
The first scripture in which wine is mentioned is found in the book of
Genesis. The Hebrew word used there is "yayin." It always means fermented
wine, primarily from grapes.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his
Noah could not have become drunk by drinking
grape juice, so we must assume he drank an alcoholic beverage made from the
grapes of his vineyard.
The New Testament word translated wine
is usually the Greek word "oinos." We also find in the New Testament the account
of Jesus performing his first miracle which was turning water into wine.
You can read the entire account of this miracle in John 2: 1-11.
9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted
the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants
which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and
when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good
wine until now.
Notice in verse 10 the comment that men
usually served the good wine first and kept the wine that was not as good to be
served lastly so that its quality was not noticed. This had to be a reference to
fermented wine, as the alcoholic content of the wine would be more inclined to
cause them not to notice bad wine later in the evening after they had a few
There are many other references to wine
throughout the Bible showing that it is actually an alcoholic drink. Now
with this scriptural evidence, comes the next question. Is it sinful to
drink wine? The answer to this question is that the wine itself is not
sinful, because sin is in the heart of man and does not exist in any object of
itself. It is the drunkenness and intoxication that comes about when a man
drinks too much that causes him sin. The Bible teaches discipline and moderation; even eating too
much food is a sin and is called the sin of gluttony in the Bible.
The scripture in
Proverbs 20:1 warns us what wine and strong drink can do to a man.
Men can end up raging and brawling and doing things in a drunken stupor that are
very unwise and that they will also regret. How many times have we heard the
expression when someone talks unwisely after drinking too much -- "That was the
alcohol talking." The Bible does make a distinction, as to the affect that
strong drinks (alcoholic beverages like whiskey, vodka, etc.) have on a person,
as opposed to wine, showing that the strong alcoholic drinks are far worse at
causing men to become out of their heads and violent. The wine is bad enough, as
it can cause men to loose their senses and mock others. People will also mock
them for their out of control inebriation.
So what should our
position be as Christians since we know the many sorrows that drunkenness
causes? We know that alcoholism is responsible for many broken homes
because of the abusive behavior toward family and others. We know the many
deaths on our highways caused by drinking and driving. What about the many
premature deaths caused by health problems stemming from alcoholism? Alcoholism
has now become a costly
drug addiction problem. Yes, drunkenness is a very evil sin
that hurts the whole nation. The Bible says all drunkards who do not repent will
not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not
deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate,
nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners,
shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Although, a Christian may be free to drink
moderately as long as they do not become drunk, is that the highest thing we should do? Paul stated in the New
Testament that he would not allow his liberty to be a license to sin, nor would
he do anything that would cause a brother to stumble.
Galatians 5:13: "For, brethren, ye have
been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but
by love serve one another."
1 Corinthians 8:9: "But take heed lest by
any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak."
In the Old Testament there was a group of
people known as Nazarites that took a vow to separate themselves unto the Lord
and therefore they would not drink any wine or alcoholic beverages.
Numbers 6:2-3: "And the LORD spake unto
Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either
man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate
themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink,
and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he
drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried."
We must all give an account of ourselves
before our Lord. What would please Him? Would it not be pleasing to
Him if we loved others enough to give up those things we could have, for a
greater cause? Would it not be a more powerful witness to others in our
age to stand out as one who did not drink alcoholic beverages because we had no
need to do so. When we are filled with the Spirit of God, His spirit gives us
the joy and release that many are seeking by drinking. May we instead
desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have no need for "spirits."
18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and
making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of
our Lord Jesus Christ;
Heavenly Father, Thank you for the liberty we have in Christ. Help us not to
judge one another in regard to the issue of drinking a little wine, but rather to be
honest before You as to the issue in our own hearts in this regard. May we be a
good witness before those in the world. When we make our choices in this life,
may they be pleasing to You and show love to those around us. You told us
the highest law is the law of love. We are first to love You, and then, to
love one another. May we do this in word and deed. Keep us from
temptation and sin and let our actions prove to the world that we are true
Christians. Deliver those who are addicted to alcohol and who are in this snare
of the devil. I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.