Sunday, July 30, 2023

Alcohol: What Does the Bible Really Say (Part 1)

By Clifton Angel
    “Jesus turned water to wine.” “Paul told Timothy to use a little wine for his stomach.” “The Bible does not condemn drinking, only drunkenness.” “Paul told Timothy that deacons cannot be given to much wine.” We have heard the claims that the world and even God’s children have made to seek justification for drinking “socially”, in “moderation”, or “in the privacy” of their home. They reference the Bible for their justification, but such references are only mentioned in passing and are rarely looked at in detail. What does the Bible really say?
    Jesus DID turn water into wine. It is true. John 2 tells us so. Furthermore, according to the measurement given in John 2:6, A.T. Robertson says Jesus turned about 120 gallons of water into wine! That is an abundance of any kind of beverage! However, let’s look closely at this occasion, what was said, and some inferences that must be made based upon the “sum” (Psalm 119:160, ASV) of the Bible.
    It is first assumed that Jesus made intoxicating wine. Such an assumption is first taken because of the use of the word “wine”. However, the word “wine” does not ALWAYS have reference to an intoxicating beverage. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, we find that the Bible say “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all” (Isaiah 65:8). Jehovah said there is wine in the cluster. Therefore, the Bible has referenced even the grapes still on the vine as wine. To call such “wine” intoxicating would be far from the truth!
    Next, it is assumed that Jesus provided intoxicating drink to those that were already drunk. “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, 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” (John 2:9, 10). Some believe that the “ruler of the feast” was saying that the men at this particular feast were already “well intoxicated” when Jesus provided this miraculously-changed beverage. That is not what is said. Read it again. The “ruler of the feast” was referencing a common custom where men would bring out worse wine after the good wine; however, on this occasion, the inferor beverage was first. Nowhere in the text does it say that the men at this particular feast were drunk, nor is it defined what is “good” and what is “worse”--such would require an even deeper study.
    Finally, concerning Jesus turning water to “wine”, we must not stray from the truth concerning Jesus’ Deity and perfection. More on this next week.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

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