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Wine or Grape Juice?
by Wayne Blank
As I wrote in that study, there are many people who should never consume alcohol e.g. those who for medical reasons would be harmed by it (e.g. if alcohol would conflict with some medication that they have been prescribed by their doctor, or if they have liver or kidney ailments), or "alcoholics" who cannot control themselves, those who are under legal age, or people who simply prefer not to consume alcohol.
To answer the question about my own "motives," that study was not written about me. It was written about what the Bible says on a particular topic, that of alcohol consumption. But yes, I do consume alcohol - one small glass of red wine per day, absolutely never more. A bottle of red wine lasts me 8 days, and that is the extent of my alcohol consumption. I don't consume it to get "high" - that little glass of wine has no intoxicating effect on my thinking. The only reason that I consume that amount is because of its reported health benefits for some people (i.e. those not included in the "should not drink" list above). I believe that the apostle Paul would, has, also stated that it is a sound medicinal practice (see below) for some people. How much that little glass of wine helps, along with a generally healthy lifestyle, I don't know. But the fact is that it hasn't hurt. I'm perfectly healthy, I rarely get even a cold or the flu (I never bother getting one of the flu shots that so many people are scrambling for these days - a statement that no doubt will get me into a little trouble too), and I haven't been to a doctor for anything in nearly 30 years (I suppose that will get me in trouble too!) and even then it was from a hunting accident (in the years before I became a vegetarian, over 20 years ago), not an illness. And I confess - I also simply enjoy that little glass of wine at the end of the work day.
I don't recommend that anyone consume, or start to consume, alcohol, but at the same time I do not deny what the Holy Bible says is permissible among God's people who wish to make use of it - as did Jesus Christ Himself (see the "Is Drinking Alcohol A Sin?" link above).
So, Is It Wine, or Grape Juice?
The Holy Bible was written, mostly, in Hebrew (the Old Testament) and Greek (the New Testament). What do the actual original words say? Wine, or grape juice?
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word (pronounced) yah-yin is translated as "wine." The Hebrew word means fermented, as in wine, not grape juice. To prove that it means wine, not grape juice, it was from yah-yin that Noah became drunk:
"And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine [i.e. yah-yin], and was drunken" (Genesis 9:20-21 KJV)
So does that mean that drinking wine was a sin, because righteous Noah (Genesis 6:9) on one occasion drank too much? No. God, for example, thereafter commanded that wine, the same substance, yah-yin, that Noah once got drunk on, be used in the holy sacrifices to Him.
"Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy ... And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine [yah-yin] for a drink offering." (Exodus 29:37,40 KJV)
There were circumstances in the Old Testament era when consuming alcohol was prohibited, but as matter of ceremonial observance, not because alcohol itself was sinful. Consuming wine was not a sin during the Old Testament era. It was even included among the blessings of the Promised Land:
"Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine [yah-yin]; also his heavens shall drop down dew." (Deuteronomy 33:28 KJV)
What about later, in the New Testament era; was it wine, or grape juice?
The Greek word translated as "wine" in the New Testament is pronounced oy-nos which means wine, not grape juice. We know that because the word is used where people are warned not to drink to excess and get drunk from it. No such warning would be necessary if it were grape juice.
"And be not drunk with wine [oy-nos], wherein is excess" (Ephesians 5:18 KJV)
In the very same breath, Paul said to "keep thyself pure" and "use a little wine":
"Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine [oy-nos] for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.
The purpose of this study is not to encourage people to drink alcohol. It is intended merely to teach the Truth of what the Holy Bible says about "wine." Abusing one's self, or others, with alcohol is sinful; alcohol itself was and is not sinful.
Fact Finder: The Bible teaches that very moderate alcohol consumption is not a sin. On the other hand, how does the Bible make absolutely clear that no amount of "substance abuse" is acceptable in God's sight?