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SOCIAL DRINKING
By Gary Bragwell

Much is said in the Bible regarding the usage of wine. The word is found 242 times. It is first mentioned in Genesis 9:21 where it has reference to Noah getting drunk. The subject of wine in the scriptures has often been misunderstood. The inference is drawn by some social drinkers that all opposition to imbibing socially is resultant from prejudiced abstainers. The thoughtful and sincere person will take a longer look to determine the facts! Basically, a knowledge of the words for wine and strong drink is needed, as well as a respect for a given text and its context.

There are three words for "wine" which are translated in the Old Testament Scriptures:

1. Shekar-rendered "strong drink". This word is the most frequently used (21 times). It is also called "strong wine" (1 times). According to Prov. 21:1-"strong drink is raging…".

2. Tirosh-rendered "wine" some 26 times; "new wine" 11 times and "sweet wine" 1 time. It is never associated with drunkenness and is grape juice rather than an intoxicant-see Isaiah 65:8.

3. Yayin-rendered "wine" 133 times and "banqueting" 1 time. It is denounced as in Prov. 23:31-33, "look thou not upon the wine when it is red…"

In the New Testament there are two words from the Greek used for the word wine:

1. Gleukos-Occurring only in Acts 2:13, where it is rendered "new wine".

2. Oinos-This word occurs 33 times in the New Testament and is rendered "wine". It may properly refer to fermented wine or to pure juice, the context being the sole means of deciding its usage. Five times this word is used in Jno. 2:3-10, and each time it is from "oinos". John 2:10-"these men had well drunk". Notice it does not say drunken or intoxicated.

Several scholars, (Adam Clarke and Albert Barnes), agree that Jesus made unfermented wine at the marriage feast in John 2. It was the pure juice of the grape; it was not brandied wine; nor drugged wine; nor wine compounded of various substances such as we drink in this land. The common wine used in Palestine was that which was the simple juice of the grape. I might add that I agree completely with both these men. Does it seem logical to you that our Lord would create something that would intoxicate folks and then condemn them for drinking it.

Wine was also used for medicinal purposes in Bible times. For example, young Timothy was advised to use it for a stomach problem in 1 Tim. 5:23. The Good Samaritan also used it to cleanse a wound in Luke 10:34. But is this license for us to drink alcohol today? It isn't for me-my name is not Timothy and I don't have stomach problems!

What should the Christian's attitude be toward intoxicants and social drinking?

1. We should remember that our body is the temple of God and that we should not defile it in any way. To do so is sinful (1 Cor. 6:19; II Cor. 6:16).

2. Our body is to be presented as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).

3. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth and this certainly involves being good examples to those around us (Matt. 5:16; 1 Tim. 4:12).

4. We are to "abstain from EVERY APPEARANCE OF EVIL, " (1 Thess. 5:22). Abstain means to "not be a participant".

How can we respect these divine principles and in any way associate ourselves with Alcohol?

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