Bible Questions and Answers

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Thanks for your question. 

Is there a direct prohibition against drinking any liquor at all? No. However, drunkenness is a sin.

Did Jesus drink hard liquor? There is no record of him ever having done so.  Did Jesus drink wine which contains a certain amount of alcohol? Yes he did.  Note what he says in Luke 7:33,34 "For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon. The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ They were exaggerating of course but they couldn't charge Jesus with being a drunkard if he only drank juice! Jesus himself describes himself as "eating [bread] and drinking [wine]." He certainly drank wine at the last supper as well. That wine is not evil in itself is indicated by the miracle at the wedding in Cana, where he turned the water into wine.

Grape juice didn't keep very long in that climate and water was often dangerous to drink. [see 1 Timothy 5:23 - "No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments." Timothy's frequent ailments probably afflicted him through the water he had been drinking!] In fact almost all the references to "wine" are clearly to regular wine and carry a connotation of fermentation.

The only words in Old or New Testament that could possibly translated into what we think of as grape juice is translated as "new wine." That this is also an alcoholic beverage can be determined from such passages as:

Joel 1:5 "Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth." (Drunkards don't drink juice!)

Mt 9:17 "Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved." (They burst because the old wine that was previously in the skins (not glass bottles) had stretched the skins due to the fermentation process. To fill up the already stretched skins with new wine would burst the skins because they could not stretch further to accommodate the fermentation of the new wine.)

Acts 2:13-15 "Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day." (Peter, on the day of Pentecost, is accused of being drunk with "new wine" so clearly even this beverage has alcohol content.)

In ancient times grape juice was produced to make wine. It was rarely drunk before it was fermented. Access to non-alcoholic juice would have been limited to those with vineyards or who lived near a vineyard. New wine was alcoholic wine which had not had a chance to age properly.

Usually, when people ask this question, they want to know whether the Bible prohibits the drinking of alcoholic beverages. It does not. In fact, wine is considered to be a blessing - Deuteronomy 7:13; 33:28; Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 3:10; John 2:3-10; 1 Timothy 5:23; Ephesians 5:18. However, the Bible does condemn drunkenness - Proverbs 23:21; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:10; Galatians 5:21. Although hard liquor [AV "strong drink"] is not forbidden, there are ample warnings against its dangers. Passages such as Deuteronomy 14:26 indicates that drinking "strong drink" is not wrong in itself but the warnings against over-indulgence are clear. See Proverbs 20:1; Isaiah 5:11,22; 28:7.

I hope you have found this helpful.

God bless!