The question of whether a Christian can, with the Lord's
approval, drink alcoholic beverages has been a controversial
issue among Biblical scholars for a long, long time. The word of
God has a great deal to say on this topic. The Lord does not want
us to be in ignorance concerning His teaching on the use of
alcohol. The truth as to whether a Christian can or can not drink
alcoholic beverages can be found in the word of God.
I was prompted to compile and write on this subject after reading
a booklet entitled "Should Christians Drink Fermented Wine?" by
E. L. Saunders( Worldwide Missions Outreach, 24497 Fraser
Highway, Langley, B.C. Canada V3A 4P6 ). He in turn was prompted
to write his booklet after receiving an article called "Is it
Christian To Drink" by Norman F. Rowe (Answers Magazine, Box
1234, Santa Cruz, Calif. 95061 ).
Pastor E. L. Saunders' booklet is 52 pages in length, containing
some technical research which we shall give you later. But what
is Mr. Saunders overall attitude towards alcohol and those
Christians who possibley from ignorance or from sincere study
believe its alright to drink alcohol in moderation? Here are some
of his statements:
"....So-called 'commandment-keeping, Church of God,
Sabbatarian, Feast Day Observing, Worldwide, Christains' laugh
and joke at cocktail parties while sinners grope in
darkness...... Let me address my dear brethren who contend for
alcohol beverages: How much of the joy of the Holy Ghost is there
in evidence among the wine drinkers? ....The fountain of living
waters is not the case of beer and wine and ( believe it or not)
even hard liquor that is brought and consumed in abundance at the
observance of ' feast-day festivals '....Prov.20:1, 'Wine is a
mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived
thereby,is not wise ....You see,alcohol has innate properties
that can overpower human judgment and reason, that when one
partakes of it internally, it is as if the wine is saying to the
one drinking it, 'I have deceived you! You have yielded to the
temptation, you are my slave! I will make a wretched drunkard of
you. You do not think so, but you will see the devastating
results and you will not be able to free yourself!' YES, WINE IS
A MOCKER! ....I believe herein is the difference between the
spiritual Christian and the carnal Christian. I find no evidence
of Spirit-filled Christians seeking occasion to drink alcoholic
beverages in the New Testament ....Well, the liquor industry sure
knows how to deceive people today in their subtle advertising of
the 'smooth taste' of their particular brand and of the 'sparkle'
of the aged product! But Mr. Rowe would alleviate any concern by
glibly declaring, '....the Bible in no way prohibits or even
discourages the moderate use of wine '....Ecc1. 10:19.... verses
18,19 Amp. Ver. When the 'moderate drinker' should be 'repairing
the breaches' (fixing a leaky tap or a broken window, etc.) he is
'relaxing' with a glass of wine. 'Sipping Christians' usually
have dirty back yards. The wife has to cut the lawn, if the
husband is the drinker; the husband has to change the diaper, if
the wife is the drinker! If both are drinkers, the children
'shift for themselves '! ....Phil.4:8. Take another look at
these words and contemplate upon their significance: 'true,
honest, just, pure, lovely, good report.' I would submit that the
person who is challenged with the ramifications of the above
terms from the pen of Paul, would hardly have time or interest to
use Mr.Rowe's 'Key to Christian Drinking'" ( Should Christians
Drink Fermented Wine? Pages 32-45).
For Mr.Saunders to write in his booklet about being filled with
more of the Holy Spirit, love, patience, honesty and dedication
to do the work of God AND THEN state that "Sipping Christians
usually have dirty back yards..." etc. is I find, at the least
DIS-honest and at the most LACKING the Spirit he wants to
He is either being dishonest with such statements or he has lived
a very sheltered life within the confines of his theological
views. I have known over the last 35 years, dozens of very
sincere dedicated, zealous Christians who were well respected in
their community, had clean lovely homes, fine marriages, clean
healthy children who did not have to 'shift for themselves,' men
and women, husbands and wives who exhibited in their daily living
the fruits of God's spirit. Some of these individuals were
ministers, some were deacons, some deaconesses, many were just
dedicated Christians AND WERE as Mr.Saunders would call them
Mr.Saunders asks the question, "How much joy of the Holy Ghost is
there in evidence among the wine drinkers?" Somehow that question
tells me that he just can not aquaint "Sipping Christians" with
having joy in the Holy Spirit, which again is an indication of
his lack of experience within the community of Christians who do
believe that drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation is not
condemned by God. Such glandular and emotional statements as
contained in Mr. Saunders' booklet have once more( and it has
been many times I have read and heard such emotional comments
over the years in regards to alcohol, makeup, jewelry, card
playing, theatre going and the like) made it plain to me how some
people want to aquaint Spirituality with THINGS. "I am more holy
than you because I do not drink wine and you do" seems to be the
attitude of some, or "You are a carnal Christian because you go
to the movie theatre, I am a Spiritual Christian because I do
not" is another attitude. "You can not be a real Christian
because you play cards" some others might say, and on and on it
Certainly if God plainly commanded us in His word "You shall not
play cards" then a Christian would obey his heavenly Father. If
the Lord has plainly stated in His word "You shall not drink
alcoholic beverages" then as Christians we should obey. It is
interesting to note that with all the many passages in the Bible
relating to this topic of alcohol and all the people who have
written to denounce other Christians as sinning if they should
take "a sip" I have never been shown by these individuals a clear
plain verse that says, "It is a sin to drink wine" or "You shall
not partake of anything that may make you drunk." With all the
problems that Paul had to contend with, which included one time
when the Corinthians got drunk before and during the Passover
service (1 Cor.11), surely God could have inspired Paul to once
and for all give a simple plain "Thus says the Lord" on the issue
of whether a Christian should or should not drink wine, whether
it was sin to partake of alcoholic liquids. As large as some feel
this issue is - that drinking wine will make you a drunkard, that
you will end up an alcoholic, it will ruin your marriage, deprave
your children, fry your brain, or give you a dirty back yard -
surely it was also an issue among the Church of the fist century,
yet the NT is lacking any direct "Thus says the Lord on the issue
of drinking wine." Is it possible that there is no such statement
in the NT - that there was no issue in the NT church over whether
drinking wine or alcohol was a sin or not a sin - because the
answer was already known
It is now time to give some of the technicalities of this subject
as contained in the booklet "Should Christians Drink Fermented
Wine" by E. L. Saunders:
"There are three Hebrew words translated 'wine' in our English
Bible in the O.T.
1 .'Yayin' (mentioned about 120 times) in most cases refers to
fermented wine unless the contex would indicate otherwise....
2.The second word is 'Tirosh' (mentioned 37 times in the O.T.) It
is number 8492 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and it comes
from another Hebrew word 'Yaresh' (No.3423), meaning 'to expell.'
So the correct meaning of 'Tirosh' is the fresh newly - expelled
juice of the grape, or 'must' as it is sometimes called, and in
some cases 'new wine' or 'sweet wine.'
3. Another Hebrew word translated 'wine' is 'Aciyc' (aw-sees)
No.6071 in Strong's Concordance (found four times in O.T.) It
comes from the Hebrew word 'Acac' meaning, 'to squeeze out juice'
therefore, it refers to just trodden out grape juice; new, sweet
So it is obvious that the English word 'wine' is not translated
from the same root Hebrew word having the same meaning. It is
unfortunate Mr. Rowe did not make a thorough enough research of
the word 'wine' or he would not have said, 'In the instances
where such blunt indication is absent, there appears no
indication that it could be otherwise because the root meaning
of both 'Tirosh' and 'Aciyc' does indicate a clear difference in
meaning from 'Yayin.''
Yes, there is a clear Biblical distinction between grape juice
and fermented wine....'Tirosh' translated 'wine' in English is
therefore the fresh juice of the grape....There are frequent
passages where we find the expression 'corn, wine and oil.' In
each of the following the word 'wine' is translated from the
Hebrew 'tirosh' and it should be obvious from the context that
the word means grape juice. Deut.7:13.... 11:14 .... 18:3,4 ....
33:28 .... 2 Kings 18:32 .... 2 Chron.31:5 .... 32:27, 28 ....
Ps. 4:7 .... Isa. 24:7 .... 36:16,17 ..... Jer. 31:12 ..... Hosea
2:8 .... Joel 1:10 .... 2:19 .... Micah 6:15 ..... Haggai 1:11
.... Zech.9:17 .... Neh.5:11 .... 10:37 .... 13:15 .... Jer.31:12
So we see from the above passages the clear indication that
'wine' can be nothing else but the fresh produce of the grape -
Reason would dictate that in a country where vineyards were so
plentiful, grape juice could quite feasibly be a national
So we see that:
1. The Hebrew word 'Yayin' denotes fermented wine.
2. The Hebrew word 'Tirosh' denotes grape juice, or, as it is
sometimes called 'new wine' or 'sweet wine' or 'must' ....
Yayin, being alcoholic, often produced drunkeness with its
harmful results....The Jewish Encyclopedia makes a clear
distinction nbetween Yayin and Tirosh. I quote from Vol. 12,
P.533, (1906 Ed.), 'Tirosh' includes all kinds of sweet juices
and must, and does not include fermented wine.' On page 532 we
find this information, 'There were different kinds of wine. Yayin
was ordinary, natured, fermented wine; Tirosh was the new wine
and Shekar was an old, powerful wine (strong drink). Wine
differed from Shekar, rendered strong drink (Isa.28:7, Luke 1:15)
in that wine was made from the juice of the grape, and shekar
from the juice and/or other fruits and of grain. Shekar was
fermented for it was capable of intoxication (Isa.28:7;
29:9)..... 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....' "
Concerning the Greek word 'oinos' in the NT Mr.Saunders writes:
"....when we come to the N.T.the Greek word 'oinos' translated
'wine' was a composite word, sometimes meaning fermented wine and
sometimes un-fermented.... Let's look at the passage in Luke
5:37.... This is an example of 'oinos' meaning 'new wine' as we
find translated in A.V. Now we have already proved 'new wine' to
mean fresh grape juice before fermentation sets in...."
We have seen that Mr.Saunders wrote "The Hebrew word 'Yayin'
denotes fermented wine." He even quoted from the Jewish Ency.
which also says the same thing. So now all we would have to do is
take Strong's Concordance and look up ever place in the OT where
the word 'Yayin' is used and see what we find. Ahhhh !!! We
would find passages that 'our wine and alcohol condemners' would
not want us to see.
So in an appendix note Mr.Saunders adds:
"We have shown the distinction between the two Hebrew words'
'Yayin' and 'Tirosh' and that 'yayin' refers to alcoholic wine
and 'tirosh' to grapejuice (p.11). However, I felt it necessary
to add this information. There are some instances in the Bible
where 'yayin' is used and the contex would indicate clearly that
grapejuice is meant....Jer.40:10,12 .... 48:33 .... Isa. 16:10.
....So we find that 'yayin' is a generic word applied to the
juice of the grape in all conditions, whether sour or sweet, old
or new, fermented or unfermented. In view of the fact that the
Bible speaks so strongly against the use of alcoholic wine in
many places, reason would dictate that where the word is used in
a positive sense it would refer to the unfermented 'wine'......."
And that dear reader and searcher for truth is how you 'do away
with' all the positive verses in the Bible on wine. Very cleaver
Mr.Saunders on page 13 of his booklet really takes Mr.Rowe and
others to taske, who would ...
"undertake to write on so controversial a subject as 'WINE' and
not provide the above information (more or less) is, at the
least, unlearned, and at the most, irresponsible. To mislead by
not providing essential facts when they are so easily available,
is dangerous in its consequences....To arrive at truth, one must
lay aside bias, sectism, prejudice, partiality and
self-interest.... Everyone knows the cliche, 'the truth hurts'
But honest people still desire to know the truth, regardless of
the cost, including self-denial"
Okay friend, are you willing to search the word of God for the
truth about drinking alcohol? If so the next pages are for you.
As I do not want to be guilty of not giving you as many
scriptural facts as possible in your study of this issue, I have
given you information from very well known and respected Bible
Encyclopedias. You may want to go to others that are in your
You must now judge how accurate Mr. Saunders possition is in the
light of what is to follow.
TO BE CONTINUED