Is wine forbidden in the Bible?

There is a long train of people who are keen to prove that wine in the New Testament era did not contain alcohol, that it was only grape juice. Therefore, Jesus must not have turned water into wine at Cana, nor serve wine at the Last Supper.

Nevertheless: how is it possible that wine (oinos/οἶνος) contain no alcohol if it is a product of fermentation (Mark 2:22) and, if used in excess, causes drunkenness (Eph 5:18; also Prov 20:1, which in the Septuagint uses the word oinos), while at the same time oinos contains no alcohol? In fact, the Greeks had another word for unfermented grape juice, or “must” – it was trux/τρύξ.

Deacons and widows should not be addicted to wine (1 Tim 3:8, Titus 2:3), and that’s wine with alcohol, not grape juice. Paul does not forbid drinking wine, only its abuse.

In fact, Paul’s practical advice that Timothy “use a little wine (again, oinos)” (1 Tim 5:23) makes sense only if that wine contains alcohol: Timothy’s stomach ailments were due to drinking contaminated water, which the alcohol in wine would kill. Likewise, the Good Samaritan treated open wounds with wine and oil, since alcohol is a natural disinfectant.

If Jesus and the disciples celebrated the Passover according to the Bible’s commands, they drank wine, period (Matt 26:27).

Those who love God’s Word need to show extraordinary care, not to make it say anything more or anything less than what it says.

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Good advice.

  2. Thanks for your note, Colin! Where specifically do you live? Gary

  3. Same conclusion here; I thought it was self evident in the passage of turning water to wine: Most people serve the higher grade stuff first, the lesser last, probably because the taste sense was dulled by alcohol.

    • Yes, I think that is the upshot of the comment in John 2 as well. But, google the topic, it’s not as self-evident as we think.


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