aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Intersection of Life and Faith

<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Sept. 6, 2007

  • 2007 Sep 06

Drinking and the Glory of God






Our stating point as we continue this study on Christians and alcohol is Paul’s command.  Ephesians 5:18, “Be not drunk with wine but full of God’s Spirit.” 

Wine comes up in the context of Spirit filled living. 

Now – the Bible is clear on this topic. 

            #1 – Drunkenness is always condemned 

                        Noah – Gen. 9

                        Lot – Gen. 19

                        Nabal – 1 Sam. 25

                        Elah – 1 Kings 16

                        Corinthians – 1 Cor. 11:21-34 

            #2 – Drunkenness disqualifies from spiritual service 

                        1 Tim. 3:2-3,8

                        Titus 1:7 

In fact, Paul goes so far as to note two aspects about an elder: 

1.      1 Tim. 3:2 – Nephalion – temperate or “unaffected by, not using”

2.      1 Tim. 3:3 – Paroinon – not drunken or “not beside wine, staying near”

3.      Titus 1:7 – Paroinon – not drunken or “not beside wine, staying near” 

Note the standard is higher for elders because deacons are 1 Tim. 3:8, “not addicted to too much wine.” 

            #3 – A life characterized by drunkenness does not equal a citizen of heaven. 

                        1 Cor. 5:9-13

                        1 Cor. 6:9-11

                        1 Pet. 4:3 

OK – It is condemned by God

            It disqualifies from service

            It leads to hell 

Now you may ask – is it a disease?  No, God describes it as a chosen sin (1 Cor. 6:9).  Just as sodomy is not a result of poor family life, it’s a choice. 

So – drunkenness is a chosen sin that leads to physical deterioration and dependence. 

Does God hate that sin? Yes.  But He loves the sinner. 

            Ezk. 36:26 – wants to give new heart and enabling

            Ps. 103 – wants to forgive, forget, and remove sin

            Is. 48:18 – O had hearkened, Peace as river, Righteousness as waves 

But so many (20 million) in USA take this dreadful imitation of peace, following a false road to happiness and forsaking God’s offer of casting all cares on Him to be cared for (1 Pet. 5:7). 

OK – Bible and church stand with God in condemnation of drunkenness. 

What about drinking? 

Well, the answer comes as we ask some key questions!  Let’s do that. 

            #1 – What was it they drank in Bible times?  

                        In Bible time, there were two kinds of wine available: 

1.      unintoxicating

2.      intoxicating 

On the first type, this was

-         fresh grape juice

-         boiled grape paste 

Prof. Samuel Lee of Cambridge wrote, “Mixed wine in ancient times was either intoxicating wine mixed with spices or more often a thick, unintoxicating syrup or jam produced by boiling to make it possible to be stored

But, the presence of intoxicating wine is everywhere in the scriptures.  That’s why it is referred to 256 times.  199 times positive, 57 times negative 

Now, a recent survey showed:

                                                81 % of Roman Catholics drink

                                                64 % of Protestants drink 

We know drunkenness “anytime that the alcohol takes over the faculties of a person.” 

The point is wine today is not necessarily the same as wine consumed in Bible times.  Let’s look at fermented wine. 

1.      Usually diluted with water 

Christianity Today, (6/20/75) Robert Stein

The liquid wine which was used on a daily basis would be stored in large jugs called amphorae.  From the amphora, they would draw out the pure unmixed wine and pour it into large bowls called kraters, where it was mixed with water.  From these kraters, it would be then poured into the kylix, or cups.  They never served wine directly from the amphora to the kylix without first being mixed with water in the krater.  In otherwords, they didn’t serve unmixed wine.  And according to history, the mixture could be anywhere from 20:1 to 3:1

2.      Only uncivilized people drank it straight – 

Unmixed was barbaric – Drinking unmixed wine was looked upon, even by unsaved people, as barbarian.  Robert Stein in his article quotes Mnesitheus of Athens as quoted by Athenaeus: “The gods have revealed wine to mortals, to be the greatest blessing for those who use it aright, but for those who use it without measure, the reverse.  For it gives food to them that take it and strength in mind and body.  In medicine it is most beneficial; it can be mixed with liquid and drugs and it brings aid to the wounded.  In daily intercourse, to those who mix and drink it moderately, it gives good cheer; but if you overstep the bounds, it brings violence.  Mix it half and half, and you get madness; unmixed, bodily collapse.” 

Now quoting Mac – “walking in the Spirit”

            So, as a beverage, wine was always thought of as a mixed drink.  The ratio of water might vary, but only barbarians drank it unmixed.  Even a 1:1 mixture was considered to be “strong drink” and was frowned upon.  The point is this: unmixed wine was unacceptable to that culture.


Even as we move away from the New Testament church period and into early church period we find, in a volume called the Apostolic Tradition, the fact that they also followed the custom of serving only mixed wine – either from a syrup or a liquid base.

  So what is the answer to “What was it they drank in Bible times?” 

1.      Sometimes, unfermented grape juice

2.      Often, diluted wine

3.      Barbarians or those acting like it, only full strength wine

How does our alcohol today compare with wine back then?

According to the Alcohol Council Information Center: Beer has 4% alcohol, wine has 9-11% alcohol, brandy has 15-20% alcohol, and liquor has between 40-50% alcohol (80-100 proof).  Now, since anybody in biblical times who drank unmixed wine (9-11% alcohol) was definitely considered a barbarian, then we don’t even need to discuss whether or not a Christian should drink hard liquor – that is apparent!  But what was the alcoholic content of the wine that they drank?  Taking the lowest mixture that was acceptable, which was 3:1 (to say nothing of the 5:1, 10:1, 15:1 etc.) combined with the 9-11% alcoholic wine, we come up with a final alcoholic content of 2.25-2.75%.  Now that’s very low.  In fact, by today’s standards something has to be 3.2% alcohol to be classified as an alcoholic beverageSo the wine that they consumed in those days was either completely nonalcoholic (being mixed from a syrup or paste) or was sub-alcoholic according to today’s standards.  This is why the Bible says that elders in the church are not to linger long beside wine (1 Tim. 3:3); because with such a low alcoholic content, it would take a long time to get drunk. 

The answer to question #1 – Are we thinking about the same thing today as what they drank?


So, just to drink wine, beer and stronger because they did is not valid

We will continue looking at this issue tomorrow September 7th as we look at “Drinking, Alcohol and Believers”.

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit