WINE IN ANCIENT
Some facts for those who want to be right
By Gary Ray Branscome
Many of the ideas being circulated in Evangelical circles have no basis in Scripture whatsoever. Worse yet, Satan uses those unscriptural ideas to divide churches, cause controversy, and give Christians a bad reputation. And, because Satan is using those ideas, he drives those who hold them to contend for them as if they were major articles of faith. At the same time, those who hold such views are totally oblivious to the fact that their opinions do not originate in Scripture. They simply assume that since that is what they have been taught, it must be right. And they convince themselves that the arguments or interpretations they come up with in defense of those views prove that they are right.
The idea that some or all of
the wine used in ancient
First of all, let me make it clear that if the Bible does not explicitly say something, then God does not want it taught as His Word. He is not stupid! Far more intelligence went into the wording of each and every verse of Scripture than all the human scholars who have ever lived could even dream of. He does not need us to “improve” on His Word. Furthermore, if we do not understand something that He has said, He wants us to interpret it to teach the same doctrine that is taught in passages so clear that they need no interpretation. He does not want us to create doctrines that consist of nothing more than man-made explanations (Proverbs 30:6, 2Peter ).
That being said, let me make it clear that the Bible clearly and strongly condemns drunkenness. Drunkenness is a sin that should be strongly condemned in no uncertain terms. However, the Bible does not say anything about the alcoholic content of wine. The people living at that time did not even know what alcohol was much less have a word for it. But the Bible does tell is that the wine people used sometimes made them drunk.
tools and methods employed in making wine in ancient
Natural yeasts on the skin of the grapes would cause the mix to begin to ferment as soon as the grapes were crushed, and before long alcohol would be present in the mix. After a few months, fermentation would cease, and the wine would be filtered and transferred either to wineskins, or to large clay jars. [There is a natural limit to the amount of alcohol in wine, because when it reaches about fifteen percent it kills the yeast, bringing fermentation to a stop.]
time ago, I sent this quote (from the internet) to a man who held that
Two terms for wine are used throughout the Bible. In the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), the Hebrew word is yayin, while the Christian New Testament, written in Greek, used the word oinos, from which we get our word “wine.” Both meant the same thing: fermented wine. There is no word for unfermented wine in Scripture. Wine is wine. It was always fermented.
Since the man I sent the quote to simply dismissed it, saying, “That is not true” we need to look at what the Bible says. What we believe should come straight from Scripture, and should consist of what God says, not the opinions of commentators.
Before examining that quote in the light of Scripture let me point out that its author only mentions the two primary terms for wine. Actually there are five different words that are translated “wine” in our King James Bible (two Hebrew and three Greek), and we will look at all five.
First the Hebrew word is “yayin” (Strong’s number 03196).
This was the primary Hebrew term for wine. Since it is usage and context that determines the specific meaning of each word, not man-made dictionaries, let us look at some verses to see how the word was used.
[If you do not have the “Online Bible” program, it can be downloaded for free from the internet. If you use it to do a word search (and enter Strong’s number instead of the word) it will bring up all the verses that contain that word.]
Genesis And he [Noah] drank of the wine <03196>, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
1 Samuel And Eli said unto her, How long will you be drunken? put away thy wine <03196> from thee.
Esther On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine < 03196>,
Proverbs 31:4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine <03196>; nor for princes strong drink:
Isaiah Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine <03196> inflame them!
The second Hebrew word is “tiyros” (Strong’s number 08492).
This word is often translated “new wine”. The context indicates that it was the word for wine that had just been fermented, or was fermenting. Verse after verse speaks of it in connection with harvest, but only a few speak of people drinking it. However, Hosea tells us that it was a source of intoxication.
Hosea Whoredom and wine and new wine <08492> take away the understanding.
Joel The field is wasted, the land mourns; for the corn is wasted: the new wine <08492> is dried up, the oil languishes.
Proverbs So shall your barns be filled with plenty, and your presses shall burst out with new wine <08492>.
The first Greek word is “oinos” (Strong’s number 3631).
This is the primary Greek word for wine, and is the root of our English word. This is the word used most often in the New Testament.
Luke For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine <3631> nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
Ephesians And be not drunk with wine <3631>, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
1 Timothy 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine <3631>, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Luke The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber <3630>, a friend of publicans and sinners!
The second Greek word is “paroinos” (Strong’s number 3943).
This word denotes wine that is always kept near. The thought is of someone who always has a bottle handy. It is only used twice in the New Testament.
1 Timothy 3:3 Not given to wine <3943>, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
Titus 1:7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine <3943>, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
The third Greek word is “gleukos” (Strong’s number 1098).
This Greek term could be translated as “sweet wine”. It is only used once in the New Testament, but Acts makes it clear that it was intoxicating.
Acts Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine <1098>.
Acts For these are not drunken, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
The quote mentioned at the beginning of this section concluded with these words, “There is no word for unfermented wine in Scripture. Wine is wine. It was always fermented.” The Bible passages just given prove the truth of that statement, by telling us that every word translated “wine” in our English Bible describes something that could make men drunk.
should be clear at this point that the claim that the wine used in
Therefore, when the steward at the wedding feast (where Christ changed water into wine) said that the wine Christ made was the “good wine” he was saying that it was undiluted. And, when Paul advised Timothy to “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities”, he was telling him to use wine mixed with water to make the water safer (1Timothy 5:23).
the people who insist that the wine used in ancient
Finally, it is totally wrong
to assume that, if the wine in use at the wedding feast at
One man that I talked to said that the idea that the wine was not at all alcoholic in nature, “is in the realm of belief”. In other words, the Bible does not say it, but he still believes it. Christ said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples” (John ), yet he is doing the opposite by going outside of Scripture for his beliefs. God wants us to teach exactly what His Word says, not our own made-up explanations. While that fact should be self evident, I find few people who understand it, and fewer still who put it into practice.