Summary: This is sermon notes on the use of wine for our lives and our walk. We are called to a higher walk as the "Set apart" people of God.

To Wine or Not to Wine

Old Testament Theology

By: Bruce Landry

I. What was common use of wine in the Ancient Near East Page 1

II. Some Questions concerning Wine Page 3

III. Is Wine the best choice today? Page 6

IV. Old Testament Considerations Page 8

V. Conclusion Page 11

To Wine or not to Wine

By: Bruce Landry

I. Should we as Christians be drinking Wine?

This was something that Professor Gore suggested someone should do a paper on and I felt that this was a good subject to delve into. Should Christians who are to be holy and set apart drink wine? Is there anything in the scripture that prohibits the use of wine? Is it a good idea? I hope to look into the historical use of wine, the amounts of comparative alcohol of the wine in the Ancient Near East and compare that to the types and uses ascribed to today.

There are several mainline Evangelical denominations that hold to the usage of wine within their respective Churches and there are several others that use grape juice to signify the blood of Christ, which was shed for all, for the remission of sin. Are these practices right, wrong, or does it really even matter?

We do know that Scripture always condemns drunkenness. In the Scripture all pictures of drunkenness are not pretty. When people drink, they often get intoxicated and we see sin and disaster.

Noah became drunk and acted shamelessly.

Lot’s daughters caused Lot to become drunk to commit incest with him. Belshazzer held a drunken feast and praised idols of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. And in this drunken stupor he lost his kingdom.

We also know that the Bible seems in places to commend the drinking of wine.

Drink offerings of wine accompany many of the sacrifices in the Old Testament (Ex. 29:40; Num. 15:15).

Proverbs 31:6 Give strong drink to him who is perishing, And wine to him whose life is bitter.

Like many other things in our current age, the kind of wine that the Scriptures refer to has both abilities for good and evil. Wine is made through a process called fermentation--a form of decay as a result of the curse of sin. I will leave it to you to decide whether or not alcohol should be used?

II. Some Questions concerning Wine

Is it the same? Is today’s wine the same as Bible wine?

a. One kind of Old Testament wine is called shekar in the Hebrew. This is usually translated as strong drink because of its high alcoholic content and is referenced in Proverbs 20:1 and Isaiah 5:1.

b. A second type of wine was called gluekos. We get our English word glucose from this root word. This was new wine--and especially sweet. This corresponds with the Hebrew word tirosh and is referenced in Proverbs 3:10, Hosea 9:2, and Joel 1:10. This was usually mixed with water before drinking.

c. The most referred to wine in both the Old and New Testaments is oinos (Gk) yayin (Hebrew). Yayin has the root meaning bubble up-- not because of the fermentation, but because of the process used to reduce it to a thick paste. Boiling kills bacteria, and the concentrate could be stored without worry of loss. It required less storage space as it was added to water for flavor. Even when the remixed content was allowed to ferment-- it had a lower alcohol content than that of wine naturally fermented. Possibly from fermentation as well as spillage. This practice of boiling grape juice down to pasty syrup was common throughout the ancient world and still exists in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon today.

Aristotle described the wines of Arcadia as being so thick that it had to scraped from the skins it was stored in and the scrapings needed to be diluted with water in order to make a drink.

Horace wrote in 35bc of a non-intoxicating wine, Pliny referred to this non-intoxicating wine. In the 9th book of his Odyssey Homer told of Ullyses putting in his boat a goatskin of sweet black wine that was diluted 20 to 1 before consumption.

Many wine-drinking Christians today mistakenly assume that what the New Testament meant by wine is identical to wine used today. This, however, is false. In fact today’s wine is by biblical definitions “strong drink,” and hence is forbidden in the Bible! What the Bible frequently meant by wine was basically purified water.

Stein researched wine-drinking in the ancient world, in Jewish sources, and in the Bible. He pointed out that wine in Homer’s day was twenty parts water and one part wine (Odyssey 9.208–9). Pliny referred to wine as eight parts water and one part wine (Natural History 14.6–54). According to Aristophanes, it was stronger: three parts water and two parts wine. Other classical Greek writers spoke of other mixtures: Euenos—three parts water, one part wine; Hesiod—three to one, water to wine; Alexis—four to one: Diocles and Anacreon—two to one: and Ion—three to one. The average was about three or four parts of water to one part of wine.

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