What Does the Bible say About Alcohol?

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In the Bible, wine is often a positive thing that brings joy and is a sign of blessing. However, for those who want to draw closer to the Lord, the Bible urges abstaining from wine and other strong drinks. Jesus himself drank wine, miraculously turned water into wine, instituted the Lord’s Supper with wine as a reminder of his death until the day when we will celebrate a feast with Jesus in heaven. However, it should be added that wine did not have the same amount of alcohol as today and that drinking water was often so bad that it was better for health to drink wine together with the food. So wine or alcohol is not in itself sinful, but if abused can lead to drunkenness and alcohol dependency, something the Bible warns against because it leads to disregarding God, sinning and doing foolish things. But while the Bible is not against alcohol as long as you can handle it without getting drunk or addicted, as a Christian you should not drink alcohol if there is a risk that you will lead your brother or sister down the road of alcoholism. It is better to abstain for someone else’s sake than to stubbornly assert one’s right.

Bible Verses

9“Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations.(Le 10:9)

1And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, 3he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried.(Nu 6:1–3)

5I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. 6You have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.(Dt 29:5–6)

7but he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. So then drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb to the day of his death.’ ”(Jdg 13:7)

7Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.(Ec 9:7)

14You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth 15and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.(Ps 104:14–15)

14I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.(Am 9:14)

1“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.(Is 55:1)

1Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.(Pr 20:1)

4It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, 5lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 6Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; 7let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.(Pr 31:4–7)

11Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! 12They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the Lord, or see the work of his hands.(Is 5:11–12)

22Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, 23who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!(Is 5:22–23)

9No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.(Is 24:9)

7These also reel with wine and stagger with strong drink; the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink, they are swallowed by wine, they stagger with strong drink, they reel in vision, they stumble in giving judgment.(Is 28:7)

29Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. 31Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. 33Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. 34You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 35“They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”(Pr 23:29–35)

18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,(Eph 5:18)

12“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.(1 Co 6:12)

19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.(2 Pe 2:19)

9But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.(1 Co 8:9–13)

1On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.(Jn 2:1–11)

33For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’(Lk 7:33–34)

26Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”(Mt 26:26–29)

Study Questions

  1. Is alcohol a positive or negative thing?
  2. Should a Christian drink alcohol?
  3. How do you know if you are abusing alcohol?
  4. How do we create a church environment where people don’t fall because of alcohol?
  5. Is it okay to drink alcohol moderately as a Christian?
  6. How should we as a church respond to members who have problems with alcohol?
  7. Is it wrong to drink non-alcoholic beer and wine as a Christian?
  8. Why does the Bible call for abstaining from alcohol when we want to draw near to the Lord?
  9. Should Christians work where alcohol is served?

Read this in Swedish: Vad säger Bibeln om alkohol?

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