Ephesians Study, Part 39: What about Drinking?


Last week we studied Paul's admonition to be careful how we walk -- that we need to plan our Christian lives, not leave it to chance.  Even Jesus instructed his disciples that not to plan is to be made to look like a fool. Paul told us not to waste any time, that the time is short to accomplish our assignments. And he told us that we need to understand our assignment from God. We suggested that we can determine God's will for each of us individually through prayer, praise, study of the Bible and by remaining sensitive to the circumstances that God puts around us; to be able to see the doors he shuts and doors he opens. He did that for Paul. He does it for us. But we have to see it to act within his will. When the flood comes, we need to realize that God is the one sending the rescue vehicle, the life boat and the helicopter.

Today's Lesson: What about Drinking?

After telling us not to waste time, to make every second count to accomplish God's will, Paul continues:

He says do not get drunk with wine. Note that he says that is a waste, just like wasting our time.

Of course, from here we could jump off into several weeks of study and debate concerning drinking.  That study has its own debates and controversies.  You can argue a case actually supporting the drinking of wine.

Wine is actually recommended as a medicine in the Bible, in both Old and New Testaments.

Here it is recommended as a sedative, perhaps a drug to escape reality.  By the way, this is just after Proverbs tells us that a King should not drink wine. So Proverbs also alerts us to the dangers of wine and strong drink.

Paul prescribed wine to Timothy in the New Testament.

Maybe Paul knew about red wine and heart attacks, or maybe God did when he inspired Paul to write it.

Did Jesus drink wine?

Remember that Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

It is very hard to try to teach that the Bible teaches against the drinking of wine.  If that were the case, why would Jesus have made some when the wedding feast ran out.  Of course, this verse does not say that Jesus was drinking it.  You wonder how he knew exactly how to make it out of the water or exactly what he was supposed to make if he had not tasted it.  I have never known of a wine maker that did not taste the wine to see the results of his work.

But, who thinks the Bible tells us that Jesus drank wine?

Have you ever heard of the Last Supper?  Do you remember what he said there? So did Jesus drink wine?  If you look closely, or listen closely, the text does not say that he did.  I would argue that if he did not, and it was a big deal of him not to have used wine, I doubt that it would have even been there.

Also note that he says he will not drink wine again until he is with them in Heaven.  If he had never drunk wine with them before, what would be the big deal about not drinking it with them until they were together in Heaven?

While we are on the question of "Did Jesus drink wine?", what about the time on the cross?

I realize that we are beating this to death, but it sounds like he drank wine on the cross. You could argue that it was against his will.  You could argue that there is no place in the Bible where the text says he drank wine, voluntarily.  You could also raise the question of "I thought he said he would not drink wine after the Last Supper until he joined them in Heaven.  I haven't figured that one out either.  But that is for another day and another study.

Suffice it to say that I find no evidence that Jesus did not drink wine while he was here on earth or that he taught that it should not be drunk.  If that were the case, why use it for the Lord's Supper?

But, wine is forbidden when it leads to excess in Proverbs 23.

The wine being red probably relates to the custom of diluting wine so that it wouldn't make people drunk.  So if it was red, it was not diluted and therefore is more likely to make you drunk.

We are warned against it:

So I'm not going to attempt to do a study of wine, or of drinking in general. However, let me suggest a few bottom lines on the question.
  1. Note that this verse... ...deals with getting drunk with wine, not just having a drink of wine.  So here Paul is not talking about having a drink of wine, he's talking about getting drunk.  There is no place in the Bible were getting drunk is recommended or condoned.  Note in this verse that Paul says that getting drunk is dissipation.  He's saying that that is a waste.  So the question Paul is raising here is not whether or not you can have a drink of wine.  He's saying don't get drunk.
  2. There are a number of places in the New Testament where you can make the case that there's nothing inherently evil about wine or alcohol, however there are just as many places where you can find cautions concerning it.  The most comprehensive treatment is probably that in Romans 14 where we are admonished not to do anything that may cause a weaker brother to stumble, or in another words we are not to be a bad example.  Therefore the safe answer is to avoid alcohol.  That way there's no way that it can either lead to being a bad example, causing a weaker brother to stumble or lead to inebriation, which probably equals both of the above.  If you are comfortable with it and certain that no damage will be done by example, that no weak brother might be led to stumble, or that it will not be interpreted as a bad example by either a believer or a nonbeliever, then having a drink, in my opinion, is not prohibited by the New Testament.
Paul is saying, "Don't waste your life.  Instead of wasting it, fill it with God and make something of it."  Be filled with the Holy Spirit instead of with wine.


Next week:

...there is no class, since it is Easter weekend.  The following week we are going to look at the question of being filled with the Holy Spirit and what that means.

Your Assignment:

Look at Ephesians 5:18-21 to prepare for that and then look at your chain references concerning being filled with the Spirit.