May 30, 2012
In the Church, there are some who are of the belief that it is okay to partake, in moderation, of alcoholic beverages. Two of the Biblical claims to support their theology include: Jesus’ turning the water into wine (John 2:1-11), and Paul’s admonition to “use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23).There are, however, other definitions for the English word “wine” than exclusively “fermented drink,” and, also, the Greek word for wine, “oinos,” has other meanings than “drinks solely alcoholic in nature.”
In his book, WINE IN THE BIBLE: A BIBLICAL STUDY ON THE USE OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, Samuele Bacchiocchi writes:
For example, the 1955 Funk & Wagnalls New “Standard” Dictionary of the English Language defines “wine” as follows: “1. The fermented juice of the grape: in loose language the juice of the grape whether fermented or not.” This definition shows that forty years ago the loose usage of “wine” referred to “the juice of the grape whether fermented or not.” It is noteworthy that even the more recent New Webster Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language (1971) defines “must” as “Wine or juice pressed from the grapes but not fermented.” This definition clearly equates “wine” with grape juice.
The 1896 Webster’s International Dictionary of the English Language which defines “wine” as “the expressed juice of grapes, especially when fermented . . . a beverage . . . prepared from grapes by squeezing out their juice, and (usually) allowing it to ferment.” This definition is historically accurate, since it recognizes that the basic meaning of “wine” is “the expressed juice of grapes,” which is usually, but not always, allowed to ferment.
“The problem,” as Robert Teachout points out, “is that people have taken the very usual meaning of the word (whether in Hebrew, Greek, Latin or English)—as an intoxicating beverage—and have made it the only definition of the word. That is incorrect scholarship! It is inaccurate both biblically and secularly, and it is inaccurate in the English language historically” http://www.biblicalperspectives.com/books/wine_in_the_bible/2.html
But if the aforementioned citation was not enough, the Bible, itself, is full of Scripture which speaks against the consumption of alcohol. Solomon gives one of the earliest examples when he pens, “Wine is a mocker and beer and brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise”(Proverbs 20:1). And the Apostle Paul speaks frequently against drunkards and drinking. For example, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
I think, instinctively, most Christians know this truth already. The enemy, however, has used some to incorrectly use and interpret the wedding in Cana passage and the 1 Timothy 5:23 section.
Of course, many will disagree with me on this issue. But here is an undeniable truth of life: “It is impossible to get drunk if one does not drink.”
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