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What does the Bible say about alcohol?

Bible alcohol

The Bible really has quite a bit to say about alcohol. The word wine appears 232 times in the Bible. The phrase fermented drink, in reference to more powerful alcoholic beverages, is mentioned around 20 times. Thus, let’s take an overview of this topic.

For the ancient Israelites, possessing lots of wine and new wine was a sign of God’s blessing. In Deuteronomy 7:13, as the people are faithfully obedient to the Lord, He promises to bless them and bring them material prosperity, including “new wine.” In Proverbs 3, loving faithfulness to the Lord is, again, rewarded with overflowing barns and vats brimming over with new wine (verse 10). These verses and others clearly state having wine is a sign of God’s blessing and is meant to be enjoyed. When the Israelites traveled to Jerusalem for the various feasts, they were instructed to bring or purchase wine or other fermented drink and to enjoy it and rejoice in the presence of the Lord (Deuteronomy 7:26). Jesus Himself was not opposed to drinking wine, as seen at the wedding feast in Cana (John 2:1–10). Paul encourages Timothy to “take a little wine” to help his stomach ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). These passages, as well as others, declare that God has a favorable view of wine and that it is to be enjoyed.

Wine was also to be given in the various offerings commanded by God. Numbers 15:1–10 is a representative passage. As wine is offered to the Lord in loving, faithful obedience, it is accepted as “an aroma pleasing to the Lord” (Numbers 15:7).

Balancing out the above statements, the Bible contains extremely strong warnings against drunkenness and addiction, both by example and precept. Genesis 9:20–27 and 19:30–38 are the accounts, respectively, of Noah and Lot getting drunk and the horrible consequences that ensued. Proverbs 20:1 gives this strong warning: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Proverbs 23:29 and 30 also gives a strong warning: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger long over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.” Further, in verse 32, we are warned that wine “bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” The Christian is instructed by Paul in Ephesians 5:18 to “not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." According to 1 Timothy 3, if a man would be qualified to be a deacon or pastor/elder in the local church, he must “not be given to drunkenness” (verse 3) and not indulge “in much wine” (verse 8).

So, the Bible speaks at length about alcohol. To bring it all together, Christians can live holy, obedient lives before the Lord and drink alcohol in moderation. However, the biblical warnings and cautions against addiction and drunkenness are strong. A Christian cannot maintain a life of loving obedience and service to the Lord while engaging in the abuse of alcohol. Thus, if a Christian decides to consume alcohol, he or she is free to do so. However, if doing so puts the Christian in danger of addiction and drunkenness, wisdom requires abstention. We are also admonished to be considerate of the needs others when we are choosing to consume alcohol (Romans 14:19–21).

In closing, a helpful admonition is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” If you choose to enjoy alcohol, enjoy it wisely, enjoy it in limited amounts, enjoy it in consideration of others, and make sure to enjoy it for the glory of God.

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What does the Bible say about alcohol?
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This page last updated: January 16, 2023