Embraced  by  Truth . . .
                                    reflections on theology and life

LIFE > Life in the World > Drinkers of Wine > Abuse of Wine > Warnings in the NT


Warnings against excessive drink appear in the New Testament just as they do in the Old Testament, but the number in the New Testament is less. Three individuals issue warnings: Jesus, Paul, and Peter.

Jesus spoke to His disciples during the Olivet Discourse:

Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly (Lu. 21:34).

Note several points: one, the warning is not addressed to the public but to a small group of followers; two, Jesus does not forbid drinking wine, but warns against drunkenness; and three, the main point is that excessive drink will detract from spiritual discernment and keep one from making proper spiritual preparation for the return of Christ. The ultimate aim of life is not gratification through personal pursuits but spiritual faithfulness.

Several statements are found in the writings of Paul, and in each case the warning is against drunkenness and drunkards, not against the drinking of wine. Abstinence is not required, but moderation is commanded:

Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy (Rom. 13:13);

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one (I Cor. 5:11);

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9-10);

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21);

And do not get drunk with wine (oinos), for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).

Peter has one statement, and it is a warning in an indirect manner; he speaks of the practices of the Gentiles:

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead (I Pet. 4:1-5).

Believers are not to live like the Gentiles since the believers have been identified with Christ and, therefore, are not to be controlled by “human passions” but are to live “for the will of God.” A characteristic of the deplorable lifestyle of the Gentiles is drunkenness, and such is not to be true of the believer.

Consider two thoughts: one, as in similar passages the statement is a warning against drunkenness not a command not to drink wine; and two, in every age, then and now, selfish gratification of desires without any control or exercise of moderation is destructive and leads to judgment.

The warnings and commands of the New Testament are clear and understandable; there is no mistaking what is said. Nothing in the New Testament should cause the believer to feel guilty for enjoying the fruit of the vine.

He causes the grass to grow for the cattle,
and vegetation for the service of man . . .
and wine that makes glad the heart of man.
Ps. 104:14-15

God in His goodness sent the grapes to cheer both great and small.
Little fools will drink too much,
and great fools none at all.

Return to: The Abuse of Wine; Next Article: Warnings for Religious Leaders 

 For overview of the website, see: Site Map
Copyright © Embraced by Truth
All rights reserved.
Materials may be freely copied for personal and academic use;
appropriate reference must be made to this site.
Links are invited.