More on Wine for Communion – Part 1

When I was a child in Sunday School I was taught that as a responsible christian you should always study out the Bible for yourself and not just take everything you hear without checking it out first.  Verses like “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15, and others were taught at an early age.  However the problem started when I really began to do what I was taught to do and not just unquestioningly believe what I was taught to believe.

One of these areas of question is in the use of grape juice vs. wine at communion.  My first exposure to anything other than grape juice at communion was visiting the catholic church with a friend in high school.  At Mass only the priest got to drink the wine; but of course my friend and her older brothers had all kinds of stories (exaggerated or made up I’m sure) of the priests drinking the wine and getting drunk after mass.  How could they get drunk on grape juice I asked, oh its not grape juice its real wine.  How shocking, but they were “Catholics” after all.  Then as a young adult I had the privilege of attending an International Women’s Aglow conference in Vancouver BC.  There when they served communion you had your choice of juice or wine.  I was pretty blown away, how could these spirit filled ladies believe that it was ok to drink real fermented wine at communion.  Drinking is a sin and therefore having fermented wine at communion of all places had to be a huge sin.  So the search and study of this accepted subject began for me.

I started with the question; Is drinking wine a sin.  I read every single verse in the Bible that contains the word, wine, strong drink, drunk or drunkenness. And although I’m not going to go through that study here, my conclusions are this.  Throughout scripture from Genesis to Revelation there is NO prohibition against drinking wine, aged wine or strong drink.  Where wine or strong drink is handled in a joyful, responsible manner it is given a positive connotation and taken as a blessing.  Where wine or strong drink are abused and drunkenness follows it is given a negative connotation and in some cases considered sin.

Wine is a blessing:
Psalm 104:15

And wine which makes man’s heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart.

Psalm 104:14-16

Wine was part of the required Levitical Sacrifices:
Leviticus 23:13

Its grain offering shall then be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire to the Lord for a soothing aroma, with its drink offering, a fourth of a hin of wine.

You could spend your tithe money on wine to have as part of the required pilgrimages to the Temple:

Deuteronomy 14:26

You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.

Deuteronomy 14:25-27

The Lord himself is planning a lavish banquet in which He will served “aged wine”
Isaiah 25:6

The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, And refined, aged wine.

Isaiah 25:5-7

Jesus Drank Wine:
Luke 7:33-34

For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’

Luke 7:32-34

Use wine for medicinal purposes (Modern Medicine has found much positive value in drinking wine)
1 Timothy 5:23

No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

1 Timothy 5:22-24

Getting Intoxicated is not wise:
Proverbs 20:1

  Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise.

Proverbs 20:1-3

Do not get drunk:
Ephesians 5:18

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,

Ephesians 5:17-19

Church leaders should not be addicted to much wine: (Note it does not say they should abstain from wine just not be addicted to much wine)
1 Timothy 3:8

Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain,

1 Timothy 3:7-9

My conclusion therefore is that drinking any alcoholic beverage is not a sin, Jesus didn’t sin when He drank and the only thing that makes drinking a sin is not in the alcohol itself but in the use or abuse of the substance.

Grace and Peace

Watch for Part 2 – So what about Juice and Communion

Interesting articles on the subject


    • Anonymous on April 17, 2014 at 2:39 am
    • Reply

    Good Post

  1. Good post.

    One thing I’ve encountered from people who think Christians should abstain is the idea that abstinence is the only safe way to make sure you don’t accidentally get drunk. The fence law concept.

    But I think that we should expect people to have self-control. If they personally can’t handle drinking without getting slobbering drunk, then they can choose to abstain. And some people probably should. But for most people, it’s not that difficult to drink without being a drunkard.

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