Can Christians drink Alcohol? Depending on which denomination you belong to, they may give you varied responses to this question. But what does the Bible say? Is it considered as sin according to God’s Law and Scripture? Let us look at the evidence.
The Main 2 types of Alcohol mentioned in the Scriptures
The Scriptures consistently mention 2 variants of alcoholic beverages; namely “wine” & “strong drink”. Wine was usually fermented grape juice while Strong Drink could be any form of Alcohol which was much more potent.
• H3196 – יין – yah’-yin – From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].
• H7941 – שׁכר – shay-kawr’ – From H7937; an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor: – strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine.
Non Alcoholic Wine is also mentioned throughout the Scriptures as:
• H8492 – תּירושׁ – tee-roshe’ – From H3423 in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine: – (new, sweet) wine.
The 38 instances where new wine is mentioned – (Gen_27:28,37; Num_18:12; Deu_7:13; 11:14; 12:17; 14:23; 18:4; 28:51; 33:28; Jdg_9:13; 2Ki_18:32; 2Ch_31:5; 32:28; Neh_5:11; 10:37; 10:39; 13:5; 13:12; Psa_4:7; Pro_3:10; Isa_24:7; 36:17; 62:8; 65:8; Jer_31:12; Hos_2:8,9; 2:22; 4:11; 7:14; 9:2; Joe_1:10; 2:19; 2:24; Mic_6:15; Hag_1:11; Zec_9:17)
A) There was no restriction in consuming Alcohol other than specific cases such as Priests who go into the tabernacle and people who have taken a Nazarite vow, as seen below.
Lev 10:9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
Eze 44:21 Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.
Num 6:3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.
Num 6:20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.
Jdg 13:7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.
B) Alcohol was used inside the tabernacle for some offerings
Num 28:7 And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering.
C) God specifically allowed people who came to Jerusalem, to tithe and then be joyful. Strong Drink was specifically allowed in this regard
Deu 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
D) Alcoholic Wine was not prohibited in the 1st century church either. Paul advices for restraint when consuming alcohol but never prohibits it altogether.
1Ti 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Tit 1:7,8 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Tit 2:2,3 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
1Ti 3:2,3 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
E) Paul even advices Timothy to drink some wine as it would help him with digestion
1Ti 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.
F) There are many instructions in Scripture to keep away from Wine & Strong Drink as they could hinder your ability to follow YHVH wholly. Falling into Drunkenness is clearly condemned by Scripture.
Pro 31:4-7 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
Isa 28:7,8 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
Pro 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Pro 23:20,21 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Pro 23:29-32 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Isa 5:11Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
Gal 5:21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
Rom 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
1Pe 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
G) Even though Alcoholism and drunkenness is condemned in the Scriptures “Wine” is seen as a positive blessing given by God to man for his pleasure.
Psa 104:14,15 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
Psa 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Ecc 9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.
H) There are many instances in the Scriptures where drinking alcohol has caused harm. These moments act as a reminder that Alcohol can become a large barrier in one’s life.
Gen 9:21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
2Sa 11:13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.
I) There are many examples to show that the drinking of wine was commonplace in the time of the Scriptures as well as the first century.
Gen 43:34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.
1Sa 1:14,15 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.
Luk 7:33,34 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
1Co 11:21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
Alcohol can be a touchy subject in Christian circles to say the least, being seen as a outward manifestation of piety. The Scriptures on the other hand goes against this trend and does not condemn the consumption of alcohol; only the excessive usage of alcohol and drunkenness. While there is a massive amount of evidence to suggest that using wine or other more potent alcoholic beverages is not an issue according to the Bible, whomever consumes alcohol should be fully able to control oneself, so that he/she does not fall into sin through the acts of drunkenness or alcoholism. While it is a better choice to distant yourself from alcohol, we must understand that there is no such precept in God’s Law or Scripture. It is a personal choice which should be taken with care!