Wine in the Bible

In a women’s Bible study I have been leading at my college, some of the girls asked me about wine in the Bible.  They have never seen it as a good thing, but in John 2, Jesus turns water into wine.  We had also just been through Ruth, and in chapter 3, Boaz and his men eat and drink until they are in good spirits (aka, drunk).  There is a lot about wine that we had been reading, and we all understand that it’s a culture thing, but what, exactly, was that culture in the Bible times?  This blog post is the result of some of my findings.

The word “wine” is found 240 times in the NIV version of the Bible.  The Old Testament alone has a lot to say about wine and its usage.  Alcoholic wine was forbidden for priests (Leviticus 10:8-9), those who took the Nazarite vow (Numbers 6:1-21), and kings and princes (Proverbs 31:4-6).  But also in the Old Testament, grain and new wine were a spoken of in reference to God’s abundant blessing (there are 31 references to this in the NIV).  There are many instances in both the Old and the New Testament when wine is used in a time of celebration.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10, wine is poured on the wounds of the injured man.  However, we are told not to get drunk, as Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”  Proverbs 23:29-35 holds warnings against its consumption, as well.

That was a lot of verses and Bible references just thrown together.  Other things to note: Israel’s wine was not very strong, especially compared to the stuff we know now.  It was weak, and it wasn’t good.  It was pretty watered down, and also it was made from stuff like grapes, figs, dates and pomegranates (Jordan).

So what about Jesus and wine?  Well, there is debate about the topic, but we find in the New Testament evidences that he did indeed drink it.  At the wedding of Cana, he turned water into fine wine…about 150 gallons of it, too (Wilhoit).  Jesus ate and drank with sinners, we find in the New Testament.  “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” (Matthew 11:19).  “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’” (Luke 5:30).  The most famous instance, of course, was the Last Supper.  “Then he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it” (Mark 14:23).

Yeah, the culture in Biblical times was a little different when it came to wine consumption, but I don’t know if it’s all that different than now, in my personal opinion (question mark?).  There were still the same dangers that came with too much consumption, but it is still used in moderation as an okay thing.  Does anybody else have any thoughts on wine in the Bible?

Smiling, Anna =)^2

My sources (decent articles, questionable websites?):
“Does the Bible Teach That Jesus Drank Grape Juice or Wine.” Let Us Reason Ministries. Web.
21 Mar. 2012. <;.
Jordan, Jennifer M. “The Wine of Israel and Wine in Biblical Times.” SG & Singapore Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <;.
Wilhoit, Chris. “Jesus and Wine.” Jesus Is Savior. Personal Website.  Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <;.


2 thoughts on “Wine in the Bible

  1. Abstinence from alcohol as an expression of Christian faith is a purely American thing. The prohibition movement started in the late 19th century and eventually succeeded in getting a constitutional amendment passed. The 18th Amendment prohibits the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. It was later repealed by the 21st Amendment. The failure of prohibition was due to several causes, but the T-totalers never gave up on the idea.

    Priests in the Old Testament were not allowed to drink in much the same way that New Testament ministers are not allowed to. Imagine if you called your pastor late one night because your mother was on her way to the hospital and you needed prayer – or a ride. You wouldn’t want to be told he couldn’t help right now because he was passed out drunk. Biblically speaking it is a sin to get drunk but not to drink. Other cultures in the modern world don’t wrestle with this particular issue. In Germany they have a product called kinderbeer. It has very little alcohol but is literally beer for children. European countries do not have a “legal” drinking age. Alcohol being inherently sinful in our culture is a part of American history.

    1. Thanks for the comment! Yeah, I don’t know much about it in general, and a lot of the websites I found that talked about it were talking about it in many different aspects. It totally makes sense that it’s an American thing!

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