Did Jesus Drink Alcohol? Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

The Bible may seem to contradict itself when it comes to drinking wine. We all know of the miracle of Jesus turning water into wine at the wedding, yet Scripture also tells us to not be drunk with wine. Did Jesus himself drink wine and is it OK for Christians too? Let's take a look at some positives and negatives about wine in Scripture.

Updated Feb 12, 2024
Did Jesus Drink Alcohol? Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

Few topics generate more argument in church than how Christians should approach alcohol. These pastors give their various perspectives on what the New Testament says about alcohol, drunkenness, and what principles can guide Christians as they handle this tough topic.

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Brian Hedges on Whether Jesus Drank Alcohol

In Scripture, we have several things said about alcohol. In answer to that question, 'Did Jesus drink alcohol?' we have to remember that in John 2, the first miracle that Jesus performed was to turn water into wine at the wedding of Cana. And, in fact, it was such good wine that at the end of this wedding feast, the guest came to the master of the feast and said, 'Usually you save the bad wine for last, but you've saved the best wine for last,' and this was Jesus' first miracle. So Scripture nowhere gives just a flat-out denunciation of alcohol. In fact, on the contrary, there are positive things that are said about wine. In Psalm 104, for example, says that God has given wine to gladden men's hearts. On the other hand, there are warnings about the abuse of wine and alcohol. Scripture over and again warns us against the dangers of drunkenness. You've got that in Proverbs 23; you've got it in Ephesians 5, 'Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.'

Should Christians Drink Alcohol?

So there are both positive things that are said and there are warnings about the abuse. So when Christians think about this issue of drinking alcohol today, we've got to consider both of those things. We've got to acknowledge, on the one hand, wine itself is a gift of God. That's what Psalm 104 says. There's nothing wrong with wine itself, and we could compare it to many other things that are gifts of God. Okay, so sex is a gift of God. Sex is a good thing, there's nothing wrong with sex. As Christians, we are not opposed to sex. Money is a gift of God, work is a gift of God. There's a godly ambition to work, produce, and be successful. These things are gifts of God. Relationships are gifts of God, food is a gift of God. But any of these things can be abused. We can make an idol out of any of these things. As Timothy Keller says, we can take a good thing and turn it into an ultimate thing, and then it becomes an idol.

And so when we take this good gift of wine, and we turn it into an ultimate thing, and we begin to use it in ways that God has warned us not to, we begin to use it in ways that God has forbidden us to use it, then it becomes very destructive. And in our culture, we see some of both. There can be ... We can see, at times, healthy uses of alcohol — it can be used in celebration in healthy ways, when there's moderation and restraint — and, of course, we see all kinds of devastation that results from the abuse of alcohol. And so, as Christians, we need to steer a careful course, that on one hand we don't denounce flat-out what the Bible says God has given as a good gift, and on the other hand, we don't fall into the excesses of our culture.

And then, for any particular Christian thinking about this, I think another thing that needs to come into play in our thinking is the principle in Scripture about love and liberty. We have liberty, we've been given freedom in Christ, but the New Testament clearly teaches that love for other people is always meant to trump liberty. So there will be times where there may be something that God will allow a Christian to do, abstractly considered, but there can be a situation where it would be unloving to do so, because it could lead another believer into sin, and so alcohol would be one of those cases.

You may have freedom to drink a beer. Nothing wrong with drinking a beer or drinking a glass of wine. But to do that in the presence of another Christian who comes from a background that entailed alcohol abuse, this person was addicted to alcohol before becoming a Christian, to drink alcohol in that person's presence could be presenting them with a temptation to sin that could be very destructive to that person's faith. And so, in a case like that, your love for that person will trump the liberty or the freedom that you have when you think about just alcohol in and of itself. So love trumps liberty. We always put the other person ahead of ourselves when we think about our freedoms, the things that God has given us.

("Did Jesus Drink Alcohol? Should Christians Drink Alcohol?" by Bryan Hedges first published on Christianity.com on August 9, 2022)

Zach Schlegal on Whether Christians Can Drink

(Transcription of the video above, edited for readability)

I think when you look at what the Bible says about alcohol, oftentimes, even how the Bible uses the idea of wine, it often uses it in a positive light. It's connected to this idea of joy or celebration. In Ecclesiastes 9, the writer's actually encouraging to drink the wine with a merry heart, or in the New Testament, Paul's writing to Timothy who encourages him in chapter five, "Have a little wine for your stomach." So, it's actually encouraged in that sense.

At the same time, I think what's clear in the scripture, we have clear boundaries where in Ephesians 5:18, Paul says, "Don't be drunk with wine, but rather be filled with the spirit." Alcohol in the sense that it can be a controlling substance, we're not called to be controlled by anything other than the spirit of God, and so, he calls us not to be filled with wine but to be filled with his spirit, that that's the controlling ... that he's actually controlling and directing us in our pursuit of God and how we live our lives.

But the other thing is, sometimes when we think about alcohol and am I a Christian, should I be doing this, did Jesus actually drink wine? I can't think of an example where it actually says Jesus drank wine or alcohol, but one of his first miracles is in John 2 where he performs a miracle at the wedding in Cana where actually takes water and makes it wine. I think it's even in that culture, that context, it's probably safe to assume that from time to time, he did. I mean, we don't know that for sure, but it's probably safe to assume that he did.

Regardless, I think when we think about whether or not it's our liberty as a Christian to have a drink now and then, provided that we're not going against the command of scripture to be drunk, which is clear, I think that the driving principle is not what are my rights and what are my freedoms, but rather, what's loving. 

When you come to First Corinthians 8, Paul lays out this idea of what do we do with food sacrificed to idols? Maybe not a direct thing that we always deal with in our culture. In some cultures, I'm sure that it is a relevant issue, but he really gets to the heart of it, and he's saying, "I'm willing to not eat a meat, which is my right, if it's going to make my brother stumble," and he's thinking of what's the most loving thing I can do for the Christians, my brothers and sisters around me, and if it causes them to stumble, out of love, I'm going to forgo that. I'm not going to eat that food or I'm not going to drink that alcohol." He's providing this idea that it's not my rights that drive that decision but what's most loving for the people around me.

("Are Christians Allowed to Drink Alcohol?" by Zach Shlegal first published on Christianity.com on January 23, 2017)

Bryan Chappell on Whether Jesus Drank Alcohol

("Did Jesus Drink Alcohol?" by Bryan Chappell first published on Christianity.com on September 26, 2011)

Mark Dever on Jesus' Advice for Believers about Alcohol

("Did Jesus Drink Alcohol? Should Christians Drink Alcohol?" by Mark Dever first published on Christianity.com on March 23, 2017)

Joe Thorn on Whether Jesus Drank Alcohol

("Did Jesus Drink Alcohol? Should Christians Drink Alcohol?" by Joe Thorn first published on Christianity.com on June 12, 2017)

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