Non-Alcoholic Wine?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by rjprince, Dec 14, 2004.

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In the Bible, is "wine" ever non-alcoholic?

  1. No, all Bible wine is alcoholic. That is what wine is!

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  2. Yes, sometimes the Bible uses the word "wine" to refer to beverage that is not fermented.

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  1. rjprince

    rjprince
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    Is there any Biblical evidence for a wine that is non-alcoholic?
     
  2. rjprince

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    The subject came up under a hypothetical communion question. Thought I would put in my two cents worth and see what you guys think!

    The Bible and Wine

    In this subject, as in all others, believers must be first concerned to understand what the Bible clearly says about the matter. One cannot allow his personal ideas our preconceptions to in any way color or cloud his interpretation of scripture in any matter. One writer of the last century said it well when he defined the purpose of his commentary as being to “honestly ascertain the sense of the sacred text without regard to any preconceived systems, and fearless of any possible consequences.” To impose our own ideas on this matter, or to search the commentaries till we find one that supports our position is not only intellectual dishonesty, but it is theological suicide. To be sure, it is a wise man who does his homework and fully researches what other godly and gifted men have concluded about a particular issue. Yet we must not lose sight of the fact that just as Solomon praises the wisdom of one who listens to wise counselors we also find a strong warning against those who give bad advice. (Pro 11:15; 12:20; 15:22; 24:6; 2Chron 22:3-4, 18; Pro 1:10; 12:5; 13:20; 19:27).

    What is one to believe concerning the nature of Biblical wine? In reference to wine in the Old Testament, Unger’s Bible Dictionary says:

    "In most of the passages in the Bible where yayin is used (eighty-three out of one hundred and thirty-eight), it certainly means fermented grape juice, and in the remainder it may be fairly presumed to do so. In four only (Isa 16:10; Jer 40:10-12; Lam 2:12) is it really doubtful. In no passage can it be positivley shown to have any other meaning. The intoxicating character of yayin in general is plain from Scripture."

    Concerning the wine in John 2, Dr. Bruce Lackey says:

    "If the wine Jesus made was alcoholic, He would have encouraged drunkenness! The miracle in John 2 is often used to support “social drinking.” But a careful reading will teach just the opposite. Verse 10 quotes the governor of the feast as saying, “every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have WELL DRUNK, then that which is worse...” Obviously these people had drunk a lot! If it was alcoholic, they were drunk, and Jesus would have made them drunker. It is not necessary to interpret this as alcoholic. Drinking an excess of tea or coffee or cola or almost any beverage will dull one’s taste for it, as anyone knows."

    Though many wise and godly men have differed greatly on this matter, the subject is not an obsure one as far as the Word of God is concerned. The fact that many good men hold different interpretations on this matter suggests that our study must be very thorough. Whenever there is such a wide diversity of opinion among men who have devoted their lives to the study of the Bible the serious student of the Word cannot make up his mind lightly or frivolously. It is not sufficient to quote one respected Bible scholar over against another. The arguments they present and the issues they raise must be fully addressed, individually considered, and weighed against the Word of God. One cannot deny a clear statement in the Word of God just because it may be difficult to harmonize with preconceived notions of what is right and wrong.

    The serious student of the Bible must be seek to discern the meaning of the text by following sound principles of interpretation without regard for the consequences. If God said it, the fact that we may have difficulty explaining or applying it is of little consequence. There is a tendency among fundamentalist conservatives to cite ones personal preferences and views as though they came verbatim from the Word of God. Conservative Bible believers certainly have greater regard for the Word of God than to take away from what God has said. Why is it then that some feel quite comfortable adding their own interpretations, against the clear meaning of the original words, and then declaring that the result of such interpretive addition is “the Word of God.” It is extremely arrogant and self-deceived for any man to think that he can improve on what God has said. Indeed, Revelation 22:18-19 stresses the serious nature of either adding to or subtracting from the Word of God. Could there be any significance in the fact that adding to the Word is condemned first? Could it be that for some it is much more natural to add to the Word than to subtract from the Word?

    There are at least six key principles of Bible interpretation:

    1. Consider to whom the passage is addressed.
    2. Consider the context of the passage.
    3. Consider other passages relating to the subject.
    4. Never interpret a clear passage in light of an unclear passage
    5. Always accept the literal interpretation of a passage if the normal word usage and meaning will allow.
    6. Consider the original meaning of the words.

    These principles of sound Bible interpretation are neither optional nor whimsical. It is certainly possible to add to these principles and clarify different styles of writing in Scripture, yet if any one of these key principles is violated there is a serious danger of misinterpreting the Bible.

    In the Old Testament wine (yayin) was clearly fermented. It was the instrument of Noah’s drunkeness (Gen 9:21); Nabal drank wine and was very drunken (1Sam 25:36-37); the drunkards of Ephraim were drunk with wine (Isa 28:1). Some would attempt to make the same term apply to that which is non-alcoholic and that which is alcoholic suggesting that sometimes words are used generically. It is true that some words are used in a generic sense, however the Hebrew words for wine, strong drink, new wine, grapes, and raisins are very specific. The person who would attempt to build a case for non-alcoholic wine must do so by ignoring the simple meaning of both the original and english languages. One writer refers to the practice of reading into the scriptures as “hermeneutical ventriloquism.” At the end of this brief treatment of the subject is a listing of every occurance of the two key Hebrew words used in reference to alcoholic beverage in the Old Testament and the key words used in the New Testament. It is readily observable that the same words are used both in positive, negative, and neutral manners. Sometimes the wine is said to be a blessing from God (Gen 27:28; 49:12; Num 18:12; Deut 7:13; 14:23,26 et.al. - and others). Sometimes we find the abuse of wine causing drunkenness and leading to shameful behavior (Gen 9:21,24; 19:32-34 et.al.). Many times wine is presented as an offering (Gen 14:28; Exod 29:40 et.al.).

    One of the key arguments advanced by those who advocate a non-alcoholic wine is that Jesus turned the water into grape juice. This argument cannot be based on any grammatical or linguistic foundation, there is none. Rather, it must be argued logically by pitting Scripture against Scripture. For instance, since drunkenness is everywhere condemned in Scripture and since there are numerous warnings against the danger of being influenced and controlled by alcohol the Jesus certainly could not have made alcoholic wine. However, such arguments deny the clear and basic meaning of the words in order to simplify a Biblical difficulty that some would rather deny altogether.

    With Paul we must ask, “What saith the Scripture?” (Rom 4:3). John 2:10 says that the wine that Jesus made was the kind that was usually put out first. Then after everyone had “well drunk” then the lesser quality was put out. It is inconsistent to understand simple words to mean one thing in one passage and another some place else. The key words in John 2:10 are the words wine and well drunk. In the Greek they are the words oinos and methuo. These same words are used in Eph 5:18 where we read, “be not drunk with wine.” If methuo means drunk in Ephesians, it must mean drunk in John 2:10. The word methuo is used seven times in the New Testament and is translated as “drunken” five times, “made drunk” one time, and “well drunk” one time (Matt 24:49; Acts 2:15; 1Cor 11:21; 1Thes 5:7; Rev 17:6; 17:2; John 2:10). The words are clear and for the thorough student who approaches the Bible with the intent of discovering what it says and what it means without regard for personal bias, the meaning is unmistakable. It is at best naive to claim that the wine in John chapter 2 was non-alcoholic. It is simply not possible for the serious student of the Bible to stick his head in the sand and contend that it was grape juice.

    One rather unique interpretation of Eph 5:18 suggests that the Greek tense behind “be not drunk with wine” implies that one should “not even begin to be drunk with wine.” In other words, “do not drink the first drop.” This may be good advice, but is it the meaning of the text? The claim for this interpretation has no basis in the Greek wording or syntax of the passage, nor can any reputable support be found for such a view. Drunkenness is everywhere condemned in the Word of God just as is gluttony. Sometimes the concept of drunkenness is combined with gluttony (Deu 21:20; Pro 23:21; Matt 11:19; Luke 7:34). Could we then infer that in order to avoid becoming a glutton one should not take the first bite? While recognizing that food is required for sustaining life and wine is not, the interpretive process of such an argument is certainly flawed.

    Further, what can be done with passages like Matt 11:19 and Luke 7:34 where we read that the “Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.”? If the charge of gluttony was a charge of eating too much food, how can the second accusation be anything less than drinking too much wine? This was the charge made by the religious leaders of the day. It was not necessarily true. Yet, if Jesus did not eat some food and drink at least drink some wine in moderation, how could they have made such a charge? Further, Jesus Himself says that the Son of Man came “eating and drinking.” If He drank only water, such a charge would be ludicrous. This is not reading into the text! It is simply taking the words of Scripture at face value.

    Where does that then leave us? Can we now say that it is perfectly fine for a Christian to consume alcoholic beverage as long as it is with a meal or in moderation? In our desire to promote wholesomeness in our families can we act as if the Bible totally prohibits and condemns all fermented wine?

    It may be well to compare this issue with a situation in Corinth (1Cor 8:1-13). It was common that meat was often brought to a pagan altar and sacrificed to the pagan god. Paganism and idolatry were rampant in the city. Since the pagan god obviously could not consume the left over sacrifice the priests and priestesses would take the meat that had been offered and sell it at a discounted price. This was one of the ways they were supported by the community. The pagan god was appeased; the worshiper felt like he was in better standing with his god; the priests and priestesses made a little extra money on the side; and, somebody got a good deal on meat for the family and friends. Everybody was happy. Everybody except the young converts to Christianity who had formerly worshiped the pagan gods. They had been so deeply entrenched in their former paganism that they still cringed whenever they thought about their former worship. Paul says,

    We know that they are those that are called ‘gods’, but really aren’t. We know that there is only one God, the other ‘gods’ are nothing but wood and stone (verses 4-6). But, not everybody understands that. When someone with a pagan background still cringes over the thought of the former ‘god’ he may be bothered by seeing another believer eat the meat that has been sacrificed to idol (v. 7). God does not care what we eat. If we eat ‘idol meat,’ God won’t love us less. If we don’t eat it, He won’t love us more. If that was all there was to it, you could go ahead and eat all the ‘idol meat’ you wanted. But the weaker brothers don’t think it is right to do that. If they see you do it, they may think they can too, even though they feel guilty about it. If they go against their conscience, they are on dangerous ground. If you cause them to violate their conscience by insisting on your right to eat ‘idol meat’, you not only hurt them, but you sin against Christ (v 11-12). If eating that meat is going to hurt my baby brothers in Christ, I won’t eat meat. It is worth giving it up, even though I could argue that the idol is nothing and meat is meat. My brother is more important than for me to get my own way about the matter. (Parapharased)

    In Romans 14:19-21 Paul says much the same thing.

    Let’s live in peace and seek to build each other up. Don’t destroy what God is doing over a piece of steak. Sure, meat is meat, but it is wrong if you are calloused to the tenderness of a younger brother in Christ. If it may hurt your brother, don’t do it. Don’t eat meat, or drink wine, or do anything else that may cause them to fall.

    It is not very mature for a believer to insist on his right to do something if it is hurting another believer in Christ. There are some things that may be in the realm of biblical freedom, but not to the neglect of those around us. Later in the Corinthian passage, Paul said, “I am become all things to all men” in order that I might be a better witness for the Lord Jesus Christ and more effectively draw them to the Savior (1Cor 9:22; 10:33).

    A further issue relates to the danger and power of alcohol. It might be well to ask the following questions.

    1. Does it have the power to control me?
    2. Has it ever controlled anyone else?
    3. Is the potential risk worth any potential gain?
    4. Does this strengthen my walk with the Lord?
    5. Does this strengthen my relationship with others?
    6. Will this potentially help or hinder my testimony?

    Another matter worth considering is that when we think about the wines and alcoholic beverages of Bible times we are dealing with a much lower content of alcohol. Further, even these drinks were often mixed with water to reduce the intoxicating effects. Culturally, for many people in our area of the country, drinking alcoholic beverages may hinder our testimony.

    Can we say that the Word of God absolutely forbids the use of alcoholic drink as beverage with meals and in conservative moderation? Could we say that with full intellectual integrity? Could we say that for the sake of testimony, self-protection, family preservation, and health that Christians should abstain from alcohol? Personally, I am much more comfortable and honest with myself and with the Word of God in holding to the latter position. Could this bother some people? Yes. Does it matter? Yes. But what matters most is that the Word of God be handled with the utmost integrity and respect. If God had wanted to say things differently, He could have. I am not in the business of trying to reword what God has said into something that I think is a little better.

    The following list contains every occurrence of the Hebrew word yayin: Gen 9:21,24; 14:18; 19:32,33,34,35; 27:25; 49:11,12; Exo 29:40; Lev 10:9; 23:13; Num 6:3,4,20;15:5,7,10; 28:14; Deu 14:26; 28:39; 29:6; 32:33,38; Jos 9:4,13; Jud 13:4,7,14; 19:19; 1Sa 1:14,15,24; 10:3; 16:20; 25:18,37; 2Sa 13:28; 16:1,2; 1Ch 9:29; 12:40; 27:27; 2Ch 2:10,15; 11:11; Neh 2:1; 5:15,18; 13:15; Est 1:7,10; 5:6; 7:2,7,8; Job 1:13,18; 32:19; Psa 60:3; 75:8; 78:65; 104:15; Pro 4:17; 9:2,5; 20:1; 21:17; 23:20,30,31; 31:4,6; Ecc 2:3; 9:7; 10:19; Son 1:2,4; 2:4; 4:10; 5:1; 7:9; 8:2; Isa 5:11,12,22; 16:10; 22:13; 24:9,11; 28:1,7; 29:9; 51:21; 55:1; 56:12; Jer 13:12; 23:9; 25:15;35:2,5,6,8,14; 40:10,12; 48:33; 51:7; Lam 2:12; Eze 27:18; 44:21; Dan 1:5,8,16; 10:3; Hos 4:11;7:5; 9:4; 14:7; Joe 1:5; 3:3; Amos 2:8,12; 5:11; 6:6; 9:14; Mic 2:11; 6:15; Hab 2:5; Zep 1:13; Hag2:12; Zec 9:15; 10:7. The word occurs 140 times and is translated as wine 138 times. In Song of Solomon 2:4 it is translated banqueting. In Proverbs 23:20 it is combined with caba and translated winebibbers. The passages that may be seen as presenting wine in a positive sense are underlined.

    The following list contains every occurance of the Hebrew word shekar: Lev 10:9; Num 6:3; 28:7; Deu 14:26; 29:6; Jud 13:4,7,14; 1Sa 1:15; Psa 69:12; Pro 20:1; 31:4,6; Isa 5:11,22; 24:9; 28:7; 29:9; 56:12; Mic 2:11. The word occurs 23 times and is translated as strong drink 21 times. It is translated strong wine in Num 28:7. It is translated drunkard in Psa 69:12. Of the 21 verses in which it occurs 19 are in a context that could be considered negative. The verses that are in a positive context are underlined.

    The following list contains every occurance of the Greek word oinos: Mat 9:17; Mar 2:22; 15:23; Luk 1:15; 5:37,38; 7:33; 10:34; Joh 2:3,9,10; 4:46; Ro 14:21; Eph 5:18; 1Ti 3:8; 5:23; Tit 2:3; Re 6:6; 14:8,10; 16:19; 17:2; 18:3,13; 19:15. In addition, gleukos, or sweet wine occurs once in Acts 2:13. The Greek word Sikera, or strong drink; it is used once in Luke 1:15. The word oxos, translated vinegar in the KJV, is used 7 times. It refers to the cheap sour wine that was the common drink of the Roman soldiers and the poor. It is used in the following passages where we are told that Jesus received the vinegar: Matt 27:34,48; Mar 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 19:29,30.

    It is often argued that the wine of John 2 was non-alcoholic. It is true that the New Testament Greek word oinos is less specific than some of the Old Testament Hebrew words. It has been argued that oinos is used in Classical Greek to refer to grapes, fresh juice, jellies, jams, and dried grapes. Even if this were admitted, it makes little difference since the context of John 2 clearly indicates that fermented wine is in view.
     
  3. HankD

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    Matthew 7
    18 And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him;
    19 Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?
    20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
    21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
    22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
    23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.
     
  4. JGrubbs

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  5. HankD

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    OK!! How are they in cooking sauces, etc, have you tried that?

    HankD
     
  6. JGrubbs

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  7. HankD

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    Thanks, I'm going to give them a try!

    HankD
     
  8. Dr. Bob

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    The greek word "oinos" means wine, grape juice or even grape jelly. But MOST of the time it is refering to wine.

    As a rule, when you see wine in the Bible, you may assume it is real wine unless the context might demand other.
     
  9. Ben W

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    Over here we have "De-Alcoholised" wine yet it is still 0.5% Alcohol.
     
  10. I Am Blessed 24

    I Am Blessed 24
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    That's like a low-fat Twinkie.

    What's the point? [​IMG]
     
  11. Shiloh

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    The "point" is that the majority of the people here read ICor.14:33"For God is the author of confusion,"
     
  12. Charles Meadows

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    RJPrince's first post was quite good.

    Whether it's oinos or yayin it's wine! People in biblical times drank wine because it didn't spoil! The fact the we Christians eschew drinking cannot change the fact.

    Today we have refrigerators and lots of well preserved drinks - but in biblical times the only thing you could put in your skin canteen (and not have it get nasty) was wine!
     
  13. JGrubbs

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    That's like a low-fat Twinkie.

    What's the point? [​IMG]
    </font>[/QUOTE]Actually ARIEL wines have won gold medals in blind taste test against the top alchoholic wines. [​IMG]
     
  14. HankD

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    Actually It's probably better than that. The enzyme substances in wine which help the immune system are distinct from the alcohol. So if one could maintain those elements minus the alcohol then everyone could benefit from God's natural medicine.

    NKJV 1 Timothy 5:23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent infirmities.

    HankD
     
  15. Dr. Bob

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    HEY - wife sells a lot of Grape Seed/Skin Extract to folks who NEED the medicinal help of wine but will not drink it. We make a good profit on that, so don't mind non-drinkers.

    It's also simpler to take a couple capsules each morning. And cheaper, unless you have a taste for Mogen David . . :rolleyes:
     
  16. Squire Robertsson

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    Taking on the practical aspects of the question, have you ever tried to find grape juice 300 mile north of Novosibirsk in Feburary?
     
  17. aefting

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    Are you suggesting grape popsicles instead? :D

    Andy
     
  18. Squire Robertsson

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    No, but I am stating a logistical problem. We tie ourselves into knots on this question, forgetting until Bishop Welsh invented Welsh's Grape Juice in the late 19th Century unfermented grape juice was a seasonal beverage.
     
  19. gb93433

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    What I found rather interesting is that when I pastored in the SBC in the south I saw more wine in people's homes than when I wasn't SBC on the west coast in an area that grew lots of wine grapes. On the west coast I seldom ever heard wine talked about much. But in the south they talked about it a lot.

    In the south I would hear people say that they heard what the preacher said but they disagreed with him often citing the idea thatJesus drank wine.
     
  20. Gwyneth

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    :confused: :confused: :confused:

    YOU MISSED AN IMPORTANT WORD OUT = `NOT ` SHOULD BE AFTER `IS` AND BEFORE `THE` ;) if , of course. that is meant to be a quote from the Bible.
    Gwyneth

    Gwyneth
     

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