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LIFE > Life in the World > Drinkers of Wine > Wine and the Early Church > Elders and Deacons

ELDERS AND DEACONS (I Tim. 3:3, 8; Tit. 1:7)

Elders are not to be “given to wine” (I Tim. 3:3), a phrase which translates paroinos (lit., “alongside of wine”). To be “alongside of wine” means to be “too long with the wine.” The phrase means to be addicted to wine; in confirmation of this the NIV translates this word as “not given to drunkenness” (Lev. 10:9).

An elder is not to indulge in much drinking or frequent drinking. Wine is not to control his appetite. This verse does not teach that an elder cannot drink wine, but that he is not to be addicted to wine, dependent on wine. An elder is not to drink and become a drunkard. He is not to be too long with the wine; because excessive drinking leads to wasted time, a dulled mind, and an encouragement to the fleshly desires. An elder must exercise self-control, setting an example for the believers.

Deacons are not to be “given to much wine (oinos)” (I Tim. 3:8). The deacons, like the elders, can drink wine but are not to be addicted to wine or drink in excess; they are not to be indulging in wine, slaves to wine. They too must be an example of discipline and control.

Those who are entrusted with spiritual responsibilities are to be characterized by moderation in all areas of life. Wine is just one of those areas. A life of leadership is a life of discipline. It is interesting that many teetotalers who condemn others who drink in moderation do not eat in moderation themselves. Gluttony, like drunkenness, is a sin.

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