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Did Jesus Turn Water into Wine or Grape Juice?

The issue of alcohol and the Christian is an incredibly volatile subject causing great division and stern judgments on both sides. I have been deeply affected by this issue myself, as I have many friends and family members who are controlled by alcohol. I am not a teetotaler, but I rarely drink. I don’t like wine. Some beers are pretty good. I like tequila. But if the consumption of alcohol were made illegal, I would not even really notice.

There are so many different positions out there with regard to this issue. Let me try to name a few:

  1. Those who abstain from alcohol and believe that this is the biblical position for everyone.
  2. Those who abstain from alcohol but don’t believe this is a biblical mandate to enforce on others.
  3. Those who drink alcohol only for “celebratory” purposes (i.e., Lord’s table), but don’t get drunk.
  4. Those who casually drink wine or beer, but abstain from “hard liquor” and don’t get drunk.
  5. Those who casually drink alcohol in order to feel “merry” or “tipsy” but don’t get drunk.
  6. Those who drink alcohol and get drunk occasionally but are not “drunkards” (i.e. addicted).

Outside of this, all Christians would (or should) agree that being addicted to alcohol is expressly forbidden in Scripture, as it relinquishes control of our faculties to alcohol rather than to the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18). Paul warns Timothy about such abuses with regard to the qualifications of a deacon (1 Tim. 3:8) and elders (1 Tim. 3:3).

I am not going to discuss here which of the above positions is correct. However, I do want to discuss one passage of Scripture that infuses the debate over alcohol with great passion. It is the subject of Christ and his relation to alcohol while here on earth. Most specifically, I want to ask the question of whether Christ, during the miracle at the Wedding of Cana in John 2, turned the water into wine, unfermented grape juice, or something else. Here is the text:

John 2:1-11
On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

This question raised by this passage does indeed contribute a great deal to the overall debate. For if Christ turned the water into an alcoholic beverage, then his participation in the issue certainly does not bode well for those who preach that the biblical position requires Christians to abstain from alcohol altogether. He would have been serving as a bartender, if you will, at a celebration where abuse of alcohol certainly may have taken place. More than that, there is no reason to doubt that he himself would have drunk this wine.

Yet some maintain that the wine Jesus produced was a non-fermented type of wine called “new wine” (kainos neos). In this case, it would be like grape juice. Others believe that the wine Jesus created was watered down so much that one would have to suffer a severe bladder problem in order to get drunk. However, neither of these interpretations are supported by the best textual scholarship, and seem to be driven by a desire to maintain a rigid teetotaler position.

New Wine is Unfermented Wine?

R. A. Torrey does a good job of representing the position that the wine Christ provided was unfermented “new wine.”

“[Jesus] provided wine, but there is not a hint that the wine He made was intoxicating. It was fresh-made wine. New-made wine is never intoxicating. It is not intoxicating until some time after the process of fermentation has set in. Fermentation is a process of decay. There is not a hint that our Lord produced alcohol, which is a product of decay or death. He produced a living wine uncontaminated by fermentation. It is true it was better wine than they had been drinking, but that does not show for a moment that it was more fermented than that which they had before been drinking” (Difficulties in the Bible).

However, there are significant problems with this argument. New wine was fermented. Its ability to cause intoxication is well represented in the Scriptures (Is 49:26; Hos 4:11; cf. Judg 9:13; see “Wine” Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 1992 [J. B. Green, S. McKnight & I. H. Marshall, Ed.], 870, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).

The happenings in Acts 2 represent this well. Having received the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles are speaking in tongues and sharing the Gospel with the people. Some people are amazed, but others accuse the Apostles of being intoxicated.

Acts 2:13:
“But others, mocking, said, ‘They are filled with new wine’.”

How could the Apostles be accused of being intoxicated from a drink that is not fermented? There is no indication, either in the culture of the day or in the Bible, that there was such a thing as unfermented wine. Wine is wine because it is fermented.

Some scholars have attempted to contrast the two Hebrew terms for wine in the Old Testament to make a case that one was unfermented grape juice. However, the evidence does not support such a conclusion. Leaning heavily on C. Seltman, Wine in the Ancient World, the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible draws this conclusion about the term that is purported to refer to grape juice:

(1) The Hebrew word is found in primarily neutral contexts; (2) often that particular word is found in contexts definitely including a fermented beverage (e.g., Gn 27:28; Hos 4:11; Mi 6:15); (3) the Ugaritic parallel to the term in question refers with certainty to a fermented wine (4) the Septuagint equivalents refer to fermented wine; (5) fermentation in the ancient Near East, unlike Greece, took only about three days, and (6) the Mishna provides no such evidence of the practice of having unfermented wine. There seems to have been no attempts to preserve wine in an unfermented state; it may have been a near impossible task.

It would seem that, for the Hebrews, there is no way to use the term “grape juice” as a substitute for wine. The article concludes: “A careful examination of all the Hebrew words (as well as their Semitic cognates) and the Greek words for wine demonstrates that the ancients knew little, if anything, about unfermented wine.

Watered Down Wine?

Some make the case that the wine used in the New Testament was so watered down that it was nearly impossible to cause one to get drunk. Norman Geisler make such a case:

Wine today has a much higher level of alcohol than wine in the New Testament. In fact in New Testament times one would need to drink twenty-two glasses of wine in order to consume the large amount of alcohol in two martinis today. (“A Christian Perspective on Wine-Drinking” Bibliotheca Sacra, Issue 553, 1982).

However, this does not seem to be the case. Geisler is assuming a mixture evidenced by some ancient Greeks. Homer writes about a water to wine ratio of 20 to 1 (Homer, Odyssey 10. 208f). However, this may be because the wine was so strong! The Mishna, which represents a better accounting of the Hebrew usage of wine, assumes a ratio of two parts of water to one part wine. The Talmudic sources speak of three to one. Wine often would contain 15% alcohol. Even if it were mixed with three parts of water, this would put it at 5% alcohol. This is a higher percentage than much beer today! Pliny, the Roman Senator writing in the first century, spoke about wine that could hold a flame. For this to happen, it would had to have been in excess of 30% alcohol! No wonder some speak of adding twenty parts water.

Not only this, but wine diluted with water was symbolic of spiritual adulteration. Isaiah 1:22, speaking to the infidelity of the nation of Israel, says, “Your silver has become dross, your best wine mixed with water.” Just before this, God gives this rebuke: “How the faithful city has become a whore, she who was full of justice! Righteousness lodged in her, but now murderers.” The nation had gone astray. It is not seen as a good thing to have diluted wine.

Further (and most importantly) the story of Jesus at the wedding does not support a conclusion that the wine Jesus made was either excessively watered down or grape juice. After the head waiter had tasted the wine Jesus made, he went to the bridegroom and said this: “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” What Jesus created was “good wine.” According to the waiter, the custom was to serve the “good wine” first; then, when the people had “drunk” much of the wine, they served the cheaper wine. This word for “drunk” is methusko, which means “to become intoxicated.” It is the same word used in Ephesians 5:18, “Do not get drunk [methusko] with wine…” (see also Luke 12:45; 1 Thes 5:7; Rev. 17:12). The only testimony we have about the state of the wine Christ created is the headwaiter’s review of it, and he suggests that it is the type that can intoxicate (i.e., it was fermented). It is very difficult to draw any other conclusion.

Added to this, there is no reason to believe that Christ himself did not drink this fermented wine. It is evident that He drank wine at the passover (Mark 14:23). In fact, Christ seemed to have made a habit of drinking wine. According to his own testimony, he drank wine that others abstained from.

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 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).

John the Baptist took a Nazirite vow and abstained from alcohol. But Christ did not. He explicitly says that he came “eating and drinking.” Because of this, others accused him of being a drunkard.

The implications for all of this are important in the discussion about alcohol and the Christian. Christ, in celebration of the Kingdom, produced an alcoholic beverage that could intoxicate. Christ was a bartender! This certainly does not solve any of the problems associated with alcohol. The problems are tremendous. But to be controlled by alcohol is not a modern problem. This problem has been around since ancient times. However, this does not mean that God forbids things that have the potential to be destructive. We must be careful that we don’t legislate God. It is not unlike issues of gun control, sugar consumption, or tobacco. All of these have potential to hurt people, all of these have a history of hurting people, all of these have people who attempt to force moderation or abstinence, but none of them are forbidden by God. We must be careful in what we attempt to forbid, even if the legislation is for a good purpose. The solution for problems associated with alcohol is not a mandate for abstinence, but education concerning its dangers.

171 Responses to “Did Jesus Turn Water into Wine or Grape Juice?”

  1. The answer to your title is wine.

    Added support comes from 1 Corinthians 11:20 where some get drunk during the Lord’s supper. Paul condemns such behaviour, but it could hardly occur unless they were drinking wine.

    The real conundrum in this post is how you can like beer but hate wine? Who was the cruel sod who scoured your childhood taste buds?

  2. Agreed! I’ve always found the whole “it was grape juice, not wine” thing to be laughable. I worked at a winery for many years so I know of what I speak. :)) Thomas B Welch only learned how to stop grape juice from fermenting (by pasteurizing it) in 1869. And, getting back to the water-to- wine miracle story itself, everyone seems to not “get” what the master of ceremonies said about the wine. He said most hosts bring out the good wine first, then later on when the guests have had their fill, they bring out the bad wine. Why? Because by that time the people would be so intoxicated and/or buzzing and would not notice (or even care!) that the quality of the wine had gotten worse.

  3. This is indeed an issue that needs discussion. Much of the controversy is linked more to the culture and one’s perception of Christianity within it, rather than to Christianity itself. In the USA alcohol is taboo. Speak with believers from, say, Europe, and it’s quite a different story. Evangelical Churches here in Italy have great difficulty understanding abstinence to alcohol among American evangelicals. And in our congregation specifically the issue has come up more than once due to our culturally diverse composition (including Americans). Pastoring in a cross cultural ministry I have seen first hand the importance of cutting through the thickets of tradition and culturally related misconceptions in order to let the Biblical speak and be our trendsetter.

  4. I agree with everything you’re saying here. But we must remember that there *are* different positions on this subject. We should be careful not to flaunt our freedom and become a stumbling block to others.

    For me, I like an occasional beer or sometimes my wife and I will make “treats” for ourselves for a quiet evening together. But we used to hold leadership positions in a denomination that taught that all drinking was a sin. And while we were in leadership positions there, we did not drink. At all. It would have been an offense and a stumbling block to them. Not to mention rebellion and disobedience to authority.

    Romans 14:1-4 – Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

    So regardless of where WE come down on the issue, we must be careful not to judge others who come down in a different place. And, practically speaking, when in the company of brothers and sisters in the lord who will struggle with your drinking, honor them and abstain. Even in your own house (IMO) why risk a stumbling block? Unless your freedom to drink is that important to you, but then that leads to a whole other question …

    Likewise, if you abstain, don’t let your abstinence become a stumbling block of law to those who don’t. If they drink, let them. Do not judge them. You hold to your own spiritual moorings, and let them hold to theirs. As Paul said, “God has accepted them,” and “they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.”

  5. It’s not hypocrisy to abstain in the presence of those who abstain, if you have the freedom to partake.

  6. Jesus was called a drunkard, or Jesus did get drunk? Is there a difference?

  7. Another issue to address here is the meaning of “stumbling.” To truly stumble someone, I would need to be the cause of bringing him/her into sin. But it seems that the idea of stumbling has come to be anything that doesn’t meet another’s preconceived expectations and therefore causes surprise, thereafter being interpreted as an offense.

    Now if that is all it takes to stumble someone, where does it end? We will be brought into bondage according to other’s expectations rather than the Lord’s pleasure. In fact, I might say that I too am stumbled by such behavior. At the end of the day, the real problem is a person’s disapproval of that particular issue, rather than a biblical mandate. Let me illustrate.

    According to the above criteria, I’ve seen people ‘stumbled’ by other’s make up, participating in sports, length of shirt sleeves, ballroom dancing and the consumption of sweets. All of which, according to some, were sinful activities.

    So when someone tells me s/he’s been stumbled by another, I now ask for clarification. To this day, I’ve yet to see a genuine case of ‘stumbling’ by another’s freedom, including someone who struggled with alcohol falling into it again because another believer drank a glass of wine. Not to say it doesn’t happen.

    And I do agree that our freedom must never be used at the expense of another’s victory over a weakness that once controlled him, such as drunkenness. But I see here a need to define stumbling, and to discern when abstinence is truly needed. The only alternative is an unhealthy misused that brings unfruitful legalistic tendencies and a yoke of self-imposed religiosity.

  8. Jesus liked to have a good time and enjoy with those who liked to have a good time and enjoy.

    He made 160 gallons (at least) of the best wine they had ever tasted. Not grape juice.

    Jesus drank wine, but did not get drunk. Getting drunk is a sin and the Scriptures make it clear that Jesus was without sin and obedient in every way.

    Jesus also ate, but was never a glutton.

    __

    We, who are free, “ought bear with the failings of the weak.”

    We certainly might want to refrain in the presence of our weaker brethren.

    My pastor and I go to dinner now and then and most of the time we will each have a beer.

  9. One might serve the good wine first just in case people don’t drink it all making it unnecessary to ever serve the poor wine. That doesn’t seem to be what the master is saying though. I think the clear implication of his statement is that you serve the poor wine last because after people have drunk freely of the good wine, they won’t be able to tell the difference.

  10. I agree, @Mark. We can’t live in bondage to the expectations or frailties of another. But at the same time, we can live in courtesy, and if someone thinks it is a sin, out of courtesy for them and the relationship, I would abstain.

    It cuts both ways, though. They should also move in courtesy towards your freedom and not be offended if you drink. But you can’t control them, and regardless of what they do or don’t do, you (I, actually) can move in grace and do my part to stay unified.

  11. I have a question. Is Princeton educated New Testament scholar Robert H. Stein wrong in his book “Difficult Passages in the New Testament”? Stein writes, “It is also clear that the term [wine] does not correspond exactly to what we mean by wine today” (p.233). In his discussion of reasons and methods for “mixing” wine, Stein wrote:
    Drinking wine unmixed…was looked upon as a Scythian or barbarian custom” (p.234). On page 236, he wrote: “When we come to the New Testament, we find that the content of the wine is never discussed. The burden of proof, however, is surely upon anyone who would say that the wine of the New Testament is substantially different from the wine mentioned by the Greeks, the rabbis during the Talmudic period, and the early church fathers. In the writings of the early church fathers it is clear that “wine” means wine mixed with water.” On page 237, he wrote: “Here it is obvious that unmixed wine and plain water were both found unacceptable at the Lord’s Supper. A mixture of wine and water was the norm.”

    Is Dr. Robert Stein wrong?

  12. Another good treatment of this subject is Ken Gentry’s “God Gave Wine: What the Bible Says About Alcohol”. It has been a number of years since I read the book, but as I recall he made the argument that not being a stumbling block to someone regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages meant to not entice them to violate their conscience.

  13. I continue to be amazed at how complicated people make this issue. “Don’t get drunk” doesn’t mean “don’t drink” any more than “Don’t be a glutton” means “Don’t eat.” This whole controversy really only dates back to the mid to late 19th century and the “Christian” temperance movement in the US that resulted in prohibition and, by extension, organized crime.

    Prior to that, the church pretty universally understood that wine and spirits could be enjoyed as long as they were not abused.

  14. v. 10 where the MC says youre supposed to give the good stuff first and the cheap stuff after everyone has had too much to notice makes no sense if it is grape juice.

  15. Did you have to make the obligatory reference to “conservative evangelicals” probably condemning Jesus?

  16. Hello, this is my first time commenting on this blog.

    I have a question for those with theological training, that is, was the “fruit of the vine” served at the Lord’s supper an alcoholic drink or grape juice/unfermented wine?

    I ask this because it seems to me logical that fermentation by yeast was banned at Passover as evidenced by the unleavened bread. Some say that this was regular alcoholic wine. But why would the Lord serve alcoholic wine when yeast fermentation was not part of this holiday?

    I would appreciate any input.

    • Hi Chris. The fact is that wine does not contain leaven. How do we know this?
      Leaven was forbidden in all offerings to the Lord by fire (Lev 2:11; 6:17). However the drink offering which was poured out over the fire was strong wine (Num 28:7, 15:5,7,10; Deut 32:38).
      So we have two options: 1) Leaven only refers to grain yeast, or 2) Old Testament wine was always filtered to remove the dregs (dead yeast) from the liquid.
      Psalm 75:8, Isaiah 51:17 and 22 speak of wine dregs in a cup. Of course this is a spiritual cup but the analogy would surely be lost if all wine in those days was dreg-free.
      In which case, option 1 stands: leaven only refers to GRAIN yeast. This is the understanding of modern-day Jews.

  17. Scripture is twisted wine is turned into a sin. Removing wine from Communion is not enough, if someone struggles with a weight problem should we not abstain from Bread as well. Christ did not institute a Sin.

  18. Is Stein wrong? I don’t think he is wrong about the facts, but to draw the conclusion that the Israelites were persuaded by the Greek definition of barbaric is not supported by the evidence. As well, it fails to account for the high alcoholic content the Greek wine.

    But I think the Talmud and Mishnah put to rest the 20/1 argument that seems so common.

    Finally, the most obvious issues such as Christ making fermented wine, christ being called a drunkard (how could they suppose such if most wine had little or no alcohol,?) John the Baptist refraining (why refrain if it was graphic juice), and Jesus’ contrast of his drinking with Johns refraining. None of these make sense if there was not substantial alcoholic content in the wine.

  19. Chris, the bread carried the yeast symbolism. There was no need to replicate it in the wine which represents something else.

  20. from a biblical perspective, I think the teetotalers get there by eisegesis not exegesis. I also think alcohol abuse goes up in cultures where it is “sinful” vs cultures where it is what you drink with dinner

  21. It’s easy to make an argument against wine during the Passover if you completely overlook the fact that it’s called the Festival of Unleavened Bread, and instead mistakenly assume it is actually the Festival of Unleavened Everything.

    My questions (yet unanswered in my dialogues with the teetotalling positions):
    * How did non-alcoholic wine become vinegar?
    * Why is it that abstinence is the default, instead of seeking maturity?
    * Why is the hypothetical “weaker brother” incapable of growing stronger? This seems like a failure of discipleship.

  22. Jerry Peele —
    Water is mixed with the wine before the wine is consecrated in the RC and other liturgical traditions.

  23. All of God’s gifts can be abused.

    I don’t know anyone who does a good job of being a good steward, all the time.

    Maybe that’s why He had to come and die for us and forgive us.

  24. I’m on the side that the wine Jesus drank could get someone intoxicated if they drank too much. But a pastor of a church I used to attend (who serves alcoholic wine at communion) gave an alternative argument to the serving good wine first tradition meaning people would get drunk. He said that it had to do with the palatte becoming dull apart from being intoxicated. Any thoughts? Also, I don’t think weaker brother issues require us to wrongly interpret Scripture. I understand different people hold different views, but to not advance an argument that biblical wine was alcoholic because of concern for the weaker brother is ultimately improper. Perhaps the denominational leadership position is an exception, but I can’t think of others.

  25. Christ was a bartender? Unbelievable.

    Even if you are accurate in your depiction of the events, Christ should not be called a bartender. If Christ created intoxicating wine, we have no reason to associate him with the guy serving up mixed drinks and Bud Lights behind the counter of the local bar.

    That seems really inappropriate. The only reason to even use the phrase is for the purpose of saying something stimulating.

    Bartenders don’t create wine from water, and bartenders don’t perform miracles to testify to their power over creation.

    • Reggie,

      It seems that you have something against bartenders. There are certainly reasons that people would not choose such a career. I don’t think that this was Jesus’ career. And it is true that he was not actually a bartender. He was the one making the wine! He was a bit more involved than even a bartender in providing drinks and “Bud Ligts”.

  26. Great article (and I hardly drink alcohol)

    Just to add that Keith Mathison has written a much longer piece on this whole subject, called “Protestant Transubstantiation” (!). It is in four parts and if you click this link you”ll find them linked at the bottom:

    http://www.theopedia.com/Keith_Mathison

    It is well worth reading for its detailed historical and biblical perspectives.

  27. You said that gun control is not forbidden by God. That’s how you worded it, anyway.

    Amen to that. If only the right wing Christians of the GOP would hear you. Their gunslinging is embarrassing the rest of us.

  28. It doesn’t say that they were happy that the new wine was better than the first. If I were drunk at the party, I would have been angry with the bridegroom for withholding the good wine until after I was drunk.

    Doesn’t it say that this miracle was a sign? Is it possible that Israel was drunk on God’s favor and was unable to appreciate the new wine that was being poured? That would be consistent with the rest of the book of John.

    The story’s not about alcohol, but about judgment. And yes, we are to desire the new wine of the new covenant which bursts the old wineskins, being filled with the Spirit of God.

    And Welch’s® isn’t fit for a sign.

  29. We need to be careful that we don’t get into a habit of editing God’s Word for Him. If He did not include an absolute prohibition of alcohol then who are we to do it? When you read the Bible you can find some of the basic principles laid out. Consuming alcohol is not wrong in itself, but drunkeness and addiction is. The Bible also gives warnings about loving alcohol and anytime God gives a warning we should heed it. What I have seen happen sometimes is the flaunting of liberty and even a bit of rebelliousness among believers who drink socially. I’ve seen some who want to start debates and engage in pro-alcohol crusades. Totally unfitting. I personally abstain completely. I don’t enjoy the taste of alcohol so I have no reason to drink it. Before I was a believer I drank alcohol with the express purpose of getting drunk, so since I’m not allowed to do that I find no use for it in my life. My wife will have a drink or two every few weeks and I have no issue with it. SHe only does it with me in private as to offend no one. She has liberty to do it and the sensitivity not to broadcast it.

  30. As an IFB (independent fundamental Baptist) for 30 years, all that I have known and been taught is total abstention and Jesus/ Paul did not use wine at the Lords Supper.

    However, the Bible DOES seem to support wine drinking, not only in the 3 passages you use (John 2, Acts 2 and Luke 7:33, 34- I did not use the Mark 14:23 passage because verse 25 calls it the fruit of the vine) but also in the following passages:

    Proverbs 31:6,7 Where King Lemuel was instructed by his mother to give wine to him that is of a heavy heart.

    I Tim 5:23 where Paul told Timothy to drink a LITTLE wine for his infirmities.

    I Tim 3:3 implies that a Bishop should not drink wine, but a deacon is commanded to not be given to “much wine”.

    CMP- How would you answer the typical claims that Christ could not have drank wine or gave wine for others to drink when considering these passages:

    Habakkuk 2:15 Woe unto him that GIVETH HIS NEIGHBOUR drink. Was Christ under a curse for giving his neighbors drink in John 2?

    Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Why would Christ drink wine if it is a mocker (causing you to be a fool and thus be mocked) and is warned against so explicitly in Proverbs 23:29-35? Proverbs 23:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

    A typical message from “stalwart” of the IFB position is

    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Books,%20Tracts%20&%20Preaching/Printed%20Sermons/Dr%20John%20Rice/double_curse.htm

  31. Reformed baptist November 13, 2012 at 9:03 am

    “Wine often would contain 15% alcohol”

    This is an assumption that is simply unsupported by all the evidence. Wine produced by ordinary fermentation can only achieve an alcohol content of around 14% – to achieve anything close to this ceiling 2000 years ago would have also produced such amounts of extraneous bacteria that the taste would have been foul. The best estimates put the strenght of locally produced wines at between 2-6%. Hence if teh artical is correct about the watering the drink on offer would be between 0.6-2% by volume.

    • Fourteen to fifteen is not much difference. I don’t know much about ancient wine making techniques, so I referred to outside sources on Bible background. Do you have a source that says that the ancients in Israel had wine that was only 2-6%? But let me give you the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say that the wine Jesus produced was 3%. This is the same as the beer here in Oklahoma and, take my word for it, it is intoxicating.

  32. John K.,

    That’s exactly it. The good stuff is wasted after people are tipsy. Might as well serve Ripple or Thunderbird (the cheap stuff from when I was a kid).

  33. Chris (comment #17),

    I don’t know the answer to your good question but here is a tentative opinion.

    The Israelites were commanded to remove all yeast from their homes during Passover, but since yeast organisms are always naturally present everywhere I think this OT command referred to stores of cultured yeasts that people kept in their homes and used for food preparation, as complete eradication of yeast cells would be impossible.

    Under the right conditions of temperature and aeration, grape juice will automatically ferment without any cultured yeast being added, since some yeast organisms are naturally present in pressed grape juice. But the alcohol used at the Last Supper was probably made before Passover began, and so the prohibition of yeast at Passover wouldn’t apply, and we can’t draw any inferences about the alcoholic content of that wine from the prohibition of yeast at Passover.

    Vote now: the above is balderdash / horsefeathers / flimflam / hogwash

  34. Wherever you fall on this topic, when you see such controversy, it is probably best to avoid it. Sometimes things that we may consider to be “right” or “O.K.”, still are not best. And, if things are not best, than why do it?
    I still have a hard time believing that if Christ were walking this earth, that He would be O.K. with opening a cold beer once in a while, even if it was in His own private time.
    I personally don’t see my Holy God in flesh doing that. Just my opinion.

  35. CT, could you elaborate on why you feel that way about Jesus. I’d love to know your reasoning…

  36. Hi Caleb & friends, perhaps you live in a city. For those of us GOP, gun-slinging, right-wingers who live in rural areas, or entire states where the countryside is at our back door (Idaho is a good example), we use our guns recreationally. Just this past weekend, I, a 50-something mom, was out at the gun club with my kids shooting trap. First time I’d ever done it and it was fun! Gun-control is a restriction of our rights, & historically, we Americans have always had the right to bear arms. Just because it doesn’t seem fun or acceptable to you, doesn’t mean it’s wrong….kind of like drinking alcohol! Guns, like any good thing, can be abused, but that doesn’t mean they should be outlawed.

  37. being a stumbling block to me refers to someone who has had an addiction. while that brother “can” be ok with other people partaking, is alcohol so important to you that you *must* drink in that brother’s presence?

  38. @reggie, neither do carpenters…

  39. I just feel that all throughout Scriptures, that Christ was blameless, Holy, and above reproach in any situation – which is what we are commanded to do and be.
    – Be ye holy for I am holy
    – All things are lawful, but all things are not expedient (or best)
    – All things are lawful, but all things edify not.

    I just feel when an issue brings so much controversy, Christ is not glorified, therefore it is probably best not to do it, even if I think it is o.k. to do.

    If I am wrong, and when I get to heaven and God says it was o.k. to drink, then I just missed out on some drinking – and I was probably better off for it.
    If I am right, and I should abstain from drinking, than I am still probably better off for it.
    Either way, it is probably better for me to not drink than it is to drink – in any circumstance or situation.

  40. @CT: I personally believe it to be important because it indicates one’s ability to handle the Word of God with integrity. If one can twist the Word of God to make one word mean the opposite, in order to bind the conscience of their flock, would be grave sin itself.

    If there were an issue with controversy, then Jesus is again at fault, for he engaged quite controversially with the status quo.

    If things that aren’t the best are now immoral, who is to say what is the best (best — normally a subjective view), and why are we now importing those external standards into our Christian ethics?

    It is also not that it was on his “private” time (eg, at the Last Supper), Jesus had public ministry where he ate and drank the food offered at the tables of sinners in full view of his mockers. Jesus was not a member of an ascetic Jewish sect who needed extra dietary regulation.

    Ultimately, this isn’t a matter of opinion, either. If we cannot trust the Word of God to tell us unequivocally that this is wine, then what can we know about Scripture that isn’t Gnostic or mystic?

  41. Okay, I see the, “be nice” rule…but really this is perhaps the dumbest conversation I have ever been part of. What a waste of my time. I think I lost some iq points reading this. As if it matters whether or not the miracle resulted in wine or grape juice. Just..Wow. I feel like the Bible tells us somewhere not to argue over worthless things. Is anyone really going to drink like a fish tonight after hearing that Jesus might have actually made wine? And if it was grape juice, would it make the miracle any less miraculous. Have you people nothing else to write about. I’m thinking the original author’s thougt process had to be something along the lines, “I need something to draw hits to the site.” Seriously, Credo House, is the best you have?

  42. I didn’t say He did this on his private time, I said even if it was his own private time. I also don’t think this issue was as controversial in Bible times as it is today.
    I think we “Christians” today, justify things (not just on this issue) just to suit a lifestyle that we want to live.
    As I said in my first comment, “this is just my opinion.”
    And, in the end, I have to answer for me and my family and you have to answer for yours.
    I will not loose any sleep at night if you, or other “Christians” choose to drink. But, for me, I would choose not to.

  43. CT, thanks for replying.

    A few points to make you think:

    If drinking alcohol was OK 2000 years ago, why isn’t it OK now?

    You use of the word “holy” was interesting. Why is drinking alcohol unholy? Again, it wasn’t in Biblical times.

    Jesus did cause controversy by going against the religious sensibilities of the day – eg healing on the sabbath. Paul likewise got himself into trouble.

    I was wondering if you were going to say that beer has so many negative connotations that Jesus would never touch it. In which case, could you see him having a glass of wine with a meal?

    I hardly ever drink and I’m not trying to change you, but I am interested in your reasons for not doing so.

  44. Hi CT, well said. For me I think the attitude towards wine is the most important thing, if we take it in a manner of celebration of life and God’s goodness then it is a good, life-affirming thing. But, as with anything (even religion!), good can easily be perverted into something bad.

  45. I can’t say that drinking 2000 years ago was O.K. or deemed to be O.K. by Christ – I have heard all of the arguments for and against. I have heard how the wine then is the same and different as the wine now. I honestly do not know what the answer is, but because of that reason, I just feel it best to not participate.
    On a whole other note, I know many Christians who feel it is O.K. and do participate. I also have seen first hand how alcohol has ruined people, families, and their testimonies. And, had they not started with this very same intention of just drinking socially, or sparingly, they would not have ever reached that point.

  46. One verse I didn’t see addressed in the article:

    Psa 104:14-15
    14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth
    15 and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.

    It is an important discussion. When many Christians condemn others based on bad eisegesis, it is important.

    I have been in SBT denominations where whether you drink wine or not was the bellweather of your Christianity.

  47. What’s important is why Christians feel like they can condemn another Christian. Making the discussion about alcohol consumption is a side show distraction that retards christian maturity.

  48. Actually I think the ability to determine what the Bible is saying about something it says a lot about is very important.

    If we can’t all read the Bible in its totality and see that it says “alcohol can be good and pleasurable and is a gift from God, but can be dangerous if overdone or misused”, then I despair that there is any doctrine that can be clearly exegeted from Scripture.

    • “If we can’t all read the Bible in its totality and see that…then I despair that there is any doctrine that can be clearly exegeted from Scripture.” SPOT ON! {thumbs up x 10)

      And I don’t even like alcohol (but if chocolate were booze, I’d be a wino by now {wink})…

  49. I agree with most of this, but habakkuk 2:15 makes me slightly uncomfortable about Jesus the divine bartender who keeps the party going.

    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

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