A recent comic strip, The Pursuit Strip #16, where I depict the Prohibitionist’s interpretation of Jesus turning water into water (instead of wine) stirred up a little conversation. Rhea the main commentor had some really good questions and comments. I told her that I would post a paper that I wrote a couple summers ago. This paper was in reaction to the SBC debate that was happening over the use of alcohol. I think alot of you know my position on alcohol, hopefully this paper will help others understand my position. The paper is broken up into sections – so each section will be a new post. Enjoy!
Why write this article?
Lately many Christians have discussed the proper use of wine and strong drink. This is mostly due to the latest Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) where a resolution was passed urging that no one who drinks alcohol be elected to serve as a trustee or member of any SBC entity. Some oppose the use of alcohol and believe that abstinence is the more biblical principle, while others believe that this is an abiblical doctrine that has no place in the Christian Church. As Christians it is important to study the Word of God to find out what God has condemned, permitted, and commanded. Southern Baptists claim that God’s word is absolutely inerrant and authoritative. Any theologian should agree that it is important to realize that if their own personal biases and presuppositions disagree with the Word of God then they need to change.
This article will attempt to present an unbiased view concerning the use of wine and strong drink in both the Old Testament and New Testament. (From this point forward the NASB translation will be used unless otherwise noted.) In the Old Testament two words occur frequently that mean wine (yayin & tirosh). Wine (yayin) is used most frequently (141 times) often in a negative context. New wine or sweet wine (tirosh) is used second most frequently (38 times) often in a positive context. The word used for strong drink (shekar) occurs 23 times and is often used in a negative context. In the New Testament the most frequent word used for wine (oinos) occurs 34 times. Sweet wine (gleukos) occurs one time; this is the wine that the scoffers thought made the apostles drunk when they spoke in tongues (Acts 2). Sour wine (oxos) occurs five times, each occurrence is found in the recounting of Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt. 27:48;