May 26, 2017

A Survey of Biblical Teaching on Alcohol

compiled by Mike Harding

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Scriptural Warnings & Prohibitions for Wine and Strong Drink

1. The first drunkenness and the attendant improper behavior. – Gen. 9:20-26

2. Drinking results in Lot’s debauchery of his own daughters. – Gen. 19:30-38

3. Isaac was drinking when he mistakenly blessed Jacob. – Gen. 27:25

4. An express command for the Levitical priesthood not to drink while performing their service. – Lev. 10:9

6. The vow of the Nazarite. – Num. 6:3

7. Drinking leads to stubbornness, rebellion, and brings dishonor to parents. – Deut. 21:20

8. Abstinence was essential for Israel in the wilderness wanderings. – Deut. 29:2-6

9. Samson’s mother was commanded not to drink. – Judg. 13:4, 7, 14

10. Hannah, an example of motherhood, was a total abstainer. – I Sam. 1:14-15

11. Nabal, died after a drunken spree, after he already lost his wife’s respect. – I Sam. 25:33; 36:38

12. Only by strong drink could David lead Uriah into a fatal trap. – II Sam. 11:13

13. Amon, in a drunken brawl, was murdered by his brother Absalom. – II Sam. 13:28-29

14. While a king was “drinking himself drunk,” one of his captains slew him. 1 Kings 16:8-10

15. While Ben Hadad and 32 other Kings were drinking in their pavilions, a small band of Israel’s men fell upon them and put them to flight. – I Kings 20:13-21

16. King Ahasuerus drunkenly tried to subject his queen to the gaze of inebriated nobles, causing the wreck of home and separation of the husband and wife. Esther 1:5-22

17. Violence results from drinking. – Pr. 4:17

18. No wise men will indulge. – Pr. 20:1

19. Drink leads to poverty. – Pr. 21:17, 23:21

20. The body rebels after drinking. – Pr. 23:7-8

21. Strong drink produces sorrow, contentions, wounds without cause, babblings, redness of eyes. – Pr. 23:29-30

22. Do not be tempted by intoxicants. – Pr. 23:31

23. God’s Word warns that alcohol eventually harms those who drink. – Pr. 23:32

24. It produces a willfulness and prevents reformation. – Pr. 22:23

25. It fills men’s minds with adulterous and impure thoughts. – Pr. 23:33

26. It brings on insecurity. – Pr. 23:34

27. Insensibility follows drinking – Pr. 23:35

28. Habit forming. One drink tends to call for another. – Pr. 23:35

29. Kings and all other rulers or officials with the weight of human lives in their control should not imbibe while in the capacity of service. – Pr. 31:4-5

30. The sanctions for the use of strong drink were as a medicine or anesthetic for the dying. – Pr. 31:6-7

31. Blessings are promised to the temperate nations. – Eccl. 10:17

32. More woes to them who drink. – Isa. 5:22

33. Drinking and carnality go together. Leaves men hopeless. – Isa. 22:13

34. Drink is bitter to them that drink it. – Isa. 24:9

35. Woe to the drunkards of Ephraim. – Isa. 28:1

36. The pride of drunkards will be trodden down. – Isa. 28:3

37. Prophets and priests erred through drink. – Isa. 28:7

38. Those who drink are set aside as useless. – Isa. 28:7

39. Prophets and priests finally swallowed up by drink. – Isa. 28:7

40. Drinking brings on spiritual blindness. – Isa. 28:7

41. Rebuke to drinking watchmen. – Isa. 56:9-12

42. Total abstinence of the Rechabites cited as example of obedience on the part of God’s people. – Jer. 35:5, 6, 8, 14

43. Priests are not to drink wine in their service to God. – Ezek. 44:21

44. God honored Daniel because he abstained from the King’s wine which had been offered to idols. – Dan. 1:5, 8, 16; 10:3

45. Belshazar was an example of a foolish leader who drank and taught his people to drink. – Dan. 5:1-28

46. Hosea’s wife was induced by drink. – Hos. 3:1

47. Strong drink and immorality are closely associated. – Hos. 4:11

48. Kings and people reproved because of drinking. – Hos. 7:5

49. Young virtue sold for the price of drink. – Joel 3:3

50. Sinful men use drink to pollute the innocent. – Amos 2:12

51. Dissolute women, oppressors of the poor, demand their intoxicants. – Amos 4:1

52. Self-indulgent drinkers not concerned about God nor the welfare of others. – Amos 6:6

53. Drunkards to be destroyed. – Nah. 1:10

54. Arrogance inflamed by drink. – Hab. 2:5

55. Wrong to give one’s neighbor drink so they are drunk. – Hab. 2:15

56. Drink leads to shame and humiliation. – Hab. 2:16

57. Drunkards warned about the return of Christ and judgment. – Matt. 24:48-51

58. Greatness of John the Baptist in part is linked with his total abstinence. – Luke 1:15

59. Christ warns against being enmeshed in drink. – Luke 12:45

60. Warning against drunkenness and the cares of this life, keeping one occupied to the exclusion of the Spirit. – Luke 21:34

61. All are admonished to walk honestly, not in rioting and drunkenness. – Rom. 13:13

62. Drinking wine may cause a brother to stumble. Importance of example. – Rom. 14:21

63. No drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God. – I Cor. 6:10

64. The Lord’s Supper does not demand intoxicating wine. The word “wine” is not used. Instead all accounts say “the cup or “fruit of the vine.” God severely chastised those who abused wine at the Lord’s Table. – I Cor. 11:25

65. Revelers in drunkenness shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. – Gal. 5:21

66. Direct command that sanctification shall be of the Spirit and not by wine. – Eph. 5:18

67. Church officers must not be “beside wine” (paroinos). – I Tim. 3:3, 8, 11, 12

Scriptural Affirmations

1. Wine is a part of the blessing Isaac gave to Jacob. – Gen. 27:25

2. Wine (and strong drink) commanded to be used in sacrifices as a drink offering poured out and in the sacrificial meal. – Ex. 29:40; Lev. 23:13; Num. 15:5,10; 28:7,14;Deut. 14:22-26. Though the OT usually condemns strong drink, it could be used for medicinal purposes or possibly be diluted for consumption purposes. Here, it is more likely part of one’s offering unto God and subsequently used as a libation offering.

3. Wine “makes glad the heart of man.” – Ps. 104:14-15. Wine as opposed to plain water or warm milk caused one to rejoice. It was viewed as God’s blessing. However, this is not a reference to the inebriating effects of alcohol. It may be questioned whether in these verses wine is commended because of this lift or if the verses use the freedom from inhibition as a symbol of plenty and blessing – cf. Nathan’s reference to David’s polygamy as a symbol of God’s giving him great riches (2Sam 12:8). Technically, God gave grapes. Man makes wine from the grapes and strong drink from other fruits and grains.

4. Wine & strong drink are medically useful for healing wounds, digestive disorders, exhaustion in the desert, the heavy hearted & those “ready to perish.” – Luke 10:34; 1 Tim 5:23; 2 Sam 16:2, Prov. 31:6-7

5. Wine is a part of the future feasting in Christ’s Kingdom. – Isa. 25:6-9; Jer. 31:12-14; Matt. 26:29 (During the millennium the earth will be in a semi-Edenic state which may affect the process of fermentation.)

6. The Lord Jesus Christ miraculously created wine for a marriage feast. This wine was deemed “good” by the headmaster of the feast (John 2:10). Christ commanded the containers to first be filled with water thus eliminating any possibility of the concept of an undiluted wine. Second, the wine was fresh. (cf. John. MacArthur’s rather thorough treatment in his Ephesians commentary [5:18a])


Mike Harding is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Troy, Michigan and a member of the FBFI Executive Board.

This article is excerpted from a single, longer piece by pastor Harding. Proclaim & Defend will make the original article available in pdf format when our serialization is complete.


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