Bible Q & A
Does “wine” in the Bible mean “grape juice”?
What is the answer to this perplexing question? Does it
really mean fermented wine?
Prohibitionists object saying, “But how do you know that the
original Hebrew and Greek words mean fermented wine? Certain
historians say the wine used was nothing more than molasses –
that this grape drink was non-intoxicating and the
ordinary drink of people in Christ’s time.”
Here is the truth about this false idea!
There are thirteen original Hebrew and Greek words for
“wine” in our English Bible. How can we know which one means
fermented wine? To find the answer, do not go to Aristotle
or Pliney, but go to the Bible itself. By comparing its usage,
the scriptural meaning of wine can be defined.
One of the original Hebrew words for wine is
yayin. This word is first used inGenesis 9:21 where
Noah “drank of the wine and was drunken.” This wine caused
drunkenness! Was it just grape juice or was it molasses?
In Genesis 14:18 we read of Melchizedek – Jesus Christ – who
“brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the
most high God.” God Himself here gave wine to Abraham. And
again, the original Hebrew word was yayin which always
means fermented wine. This same Hebrew word is used in Amos 9:14
speaking of the coming millennium when the people will
“plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof.” They will drink
the same kind of wine that Noah, by overindulgence, became drunk on.
In the New Testament, one original Greek word for wine is oinos. Proof that it
is alcoholic is given in the story of the good Samaritan.
The Samaritan poured oil and wine on the man’s wounds (Luke
10:34), showing that the wine had enough alcoholic content to
be used as an antiseptic. Would you pour grape juice or molasses on a wound?
The Greek word oinos is also used in John 2 where Jesus turned water
into wine by a divine miracle. It is used in I Timothy 5:23,
the command of Paul, “Drink no longer water but use a little
wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” This
Greek word is also used in Ephesians 5:18, “And be not
drunk with wine wherein is excess.”
In ancient times it was impossible to preserve grape
juice. Except for a short season the “fruit of the vine”
was either made into a thick molasses or into wine. Check
Hastings Bible Dictionary for the full proof.
“Taken intelligently and with discretion, alcohol (in wine and
other drinks) can prolong life expectancy…However, even
temporary excess or prolonged overdrinking can lead to
disaster” (Pasadena Medical Society). It is for our welfare
and happiness that God has commanded us not to use
alcoholic beverages IN EXCESS and for a wrong purpose. Most
people don’t know where to draw the line between temperance and
excess. Such people better abstain totally until they know
they can “be temperate in all things.”