PMT 2013-008b by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Below is a study on the alcoholic nature of wine in the Bible.
In my current non-eschatology series we are considering the question of the morality of alcoholic beverages for the Christian. In the last study I introduced the matter. In this one I will focus on the issue of whether the wine in the Bible was alcoholic.
Undoubtedly, the starting point for any rational discussion of the matter must be with the nature of the wine in Scripture. The moderationist position is that the wine righteously employed by and allowed for consumption among God’s people in the Bible is a fermented quality, alcoholic content beverage. Consider the evidence for this assertion.
1. Lexical Consensus. The leading Old and New Testament lexicons and etymological dictionaries affirm that the major terms used of wine represent a fermented beverage, a “wine”, not “grape juice.” The most important terms for the debate that are employed in Scripture are yayin and shekar (Hebrew) and oinos (Greek).
2. Translational Consensus. The major English translations of Scripture translate these words by English equivalents that bespeak alcoholic beverages, rather than terms such as “juice,” “grape juice,” and so forth. Translations include: “wine,” “strong drink,” “liquor,” and “beer.”
3. Lexical Relationship. One of the major words in our debate is shekar (“strong drink,” NASB). It is the noun form of the verb shakar, which means “become drunk.” This is evidence of the inebriating capacity of shekar.
4. Contextual Usage. Many of the verses that condemn drunkenness make reference to such beverages as yayin, shekar, and oinos. In addition, yayin is said to “make glad the heart” in a number of places. This surely has reference to the effect of an alcoholic beverage, when used in moderation.
5. Descriptive Reference. In certain places in Scripture the aging of the liquid express of the grape is specifically mentioned (Is. 25:5, 6; Luke 5:39). Aging is an essential factor for wine to be alcoholic.
6. Circumspection Requirement. On some occasions, “strong” Christians are instructed to forgo the use of wine (Rom. 14:21), when there is a serious likelihood of “destroying” (Rom 14:15) a “weaker brother” (Rom. 14:1; 15:1). This surely indicates the temporary forgoing of an alcoholic beverage, rather than grape juice.
7. Ecclesiastical Expectation. Church officers are required to use wine in moderation (I Tim. 3:8; Tit. 2:3), indicating its fermented quality and intoxicating capacity.
8. Qualified Silence. Interestingly, there are no Biblical distinctions between “safe” wines. Scripture lacks any commendation of “new wine” (fresh grape juice) over and exclusive of “old wine” (fermented beverages). Scripture lacks any commendation of watered wine over undiluted wine (it even disparages water wine, Is. 1:22). Scripture lacks any encouragement to retarding fermentation, which occurs naturally. Evidence exists that wine was intentionally exposed in order to accelerate the fermentation process (Is. 25:6; Jer. 48:11).
In this on-air radio debate Dr. Gentry engages the president of the National Templar’s Society on the question of whether it is ever acceptable for a Christian to drink alcohol. Provides helpful insights into both sides of the issue.
In this professionally-produced, four-part docu-lecture series, Dr. Gentry engages a hotly-debated issue within the Christian church: the question of the Christian and alcoholic beverages.
Dr. Gentry presents and defends the case for a moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages by Christians. These four lectures cover all the essential Bible verses and logical arguments defending a Christian’s right to partake of alcohol. He does so in an irenic manner and while noting biblical warnings about the potential dangers of alcohol, when they are abused.
The four lectures are between 20-25 minutes in length. This is perfect for use in a Sunday school program, or any personal or small group Bible study.