One Step At A Time Christian Growth Series - Step 34 - Liquor
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
Proverbs 20:1

Beer, whiskey, vodka, bourbon, scotch, rum, wine-it’s all alcohol. Billy Sunday called it liquid hell.

For years preachers took a stand against all forms of alcohol. Today, many cannot seem to envision what is wrong with it. After all, the Bible mentions wine often.


The texts come under three headings:

  1. Wine with nothing of its character mentioned.
  2. Wine mentioned with misery, wrath and punishment.
  3. Wine mentioned with corn, oil, bread and blessing.


Dr. Ure, in his Dictionary of Arts, says “Juice, when newly expressed, and before it has begun to ferment is called must, and in common language, new wine.” -Bible Commentary xxxvii

Littleton, in his Latin Dictionary (1678), says, “Mustum vinum cad is recens inclusam. Gleukos, oinos neos. Must, new wine, close shut up and not permitted to work.” -Bible Commentary xxxvii

Dr. Noah Webster: “Wine, the fermented juice of grapes. Must, wine, pressed from the grape, but not fermented.”

Worcester gives the same definitions as Webster. Both these later authorities substantially follow Johnson, Walker, and Bailey.

One more authority: it is Dr. Wm. Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, the most recent one, published and edited in this country by Rev. Samuel W. Barnum, of New Haven, Connecticut. Article, Wine, page 1189, says, “A certain amount of juice exuded from the ripe fruit from its own pressure before preserved in the state of must by placing it in jars or bottles and then burying it in the earth.”


Laws of fermentation are fixed facts, always operating the same way and requiring the same conditions.

Donovan, in his work on Domestic Economy (in Lardner’s Cyclopaedia,) says:

1. There must be saccharine (sugar) matter and gluten (yeast.)

2. The temperature should not be below 50 nor above 70 or 75.

3. The juice must be of a certain consistence. Thick syrup will not undergo vinous fermentation. An excess of sugar is unfavorable to this process; and, on the other hand, too little sugar, or, too much water, will be deficient in the quantity of saccharine matter to produce a liquor that will keep, and for want of more spirit the vinous fermentation will almost instantly be followed by the acetous.

4. The quantity of gluten or ferment must also be well regulated. Too much or too little will impede and prevent fermentation.” -Anti-Bacchus, p. 162

Dr. Ure, the eminent chemist, fully confirms this statement of Professor Donovan. -Anti-Bacchus, p. 225

Count Chaptal, the eminent French chemist, says, “Nature never forms spirituous liquors; she rots the grape upon the branch; but it is art which converts the juice into (alcoholic) wine.” -Bible Commentary, p. 370.

Professor Turner, in his Chemistry, says of alcohol, “It does not exist ready formed in plants, but is a product of the vinous fermentation.” -Bible Commentary, p 370

Adam Fabroni, an Italian writer, born 1732, says, “Grape juice does not ferment in the grape itself.” -Bible Commentary p. xxxix


A Mohammedan traveller, A.D. 850, states that “palm wine, if drunk fresh, is sweet like honey; but if kept it turns to vinegar.” -Kitto, vol. i. p. 686

Dr. Jagn, professor Oriental languages in the University of Vienna, in his Biblical Archeology, first published in this country from the Latin abridgement of 1814, says: “The Hebrews were diligent in the cultivation of vineyards, and the soil of Palestine yielded in great quantities the best of wine. The mountains of Engedi in particular, the valley of the salt-pits, and the valleys of Eshcol and Sorek were celebrated for their grapes.” “In Palestine, even at the present day, the clusters of the vine grow to the weight of twelve pounds; they have large grapes, and cannot be carried far by one man without being injured. (Num. xiii. 24, 25) The grapes are mostly red or black; whence originated the phrase ‘blood of the grapes.’ (Gen. xxix. 11; Deut. xxxii. 14; Isa. xxvii. 2)

Thomas Hartwell Horne, in his Introduction to the Study of the Bible, vol. iii, p. 28, says of Palestine, “The summers are dry and extremely hot.” He quotes Dr. E. D. Clarke that his thermometer, sheltered from the sun, ‘remained at 100 Fahrenheit.’ He states that from the beginning of June to the beginning of August, the heat of the weather increases, and the nights are so warm that the inhabitants sleep on their housetops in the open air.”

Chemical science prohibits the vious fermentation if the heat exceeds 75 and ensures the acetous if above 75. Also, that very sweet juices, having an excess of sugar, are unfavorable to vinous fermentation, but are favorable to the acetous. The valleys of Eshcol and Sorek were famous for their luscious grapes; but the temperature there in the vintage months was 100.


Sweet is grateful to the newborn infant. It is loved by the youth, by the middle-aged, and by the aged. This taste never dies. In strict keeping with this, we find that the articles, in their great variety, which constitute the healthful diet of man, are palatable by reason of their sweetness. Even of the flesh of fish and birds and animals we say, “How sweet!”

Whilst this taste is universal, it is intensified in hot climates. It is a well-authenticated fact that the love of sweet drinks is a passion among Orientals. For alcohol, in all its combinations, the taste is unnatural and wholly acquired. To the natural instinct it is universally repugnant.

I do therefore most earnestly protest that it is neither fair, nor honest, nor philosophical, to make the acquired, vitiated taste of this alcoholic age, and in cold climates, that standard by which to test the taste of the ancients who lived in host countries; and, because we love to use alcoholic drinks, therefore conclude that the ancients must also have loved and used them, and only them.

Consider the amount of sugar, sweets, and carbonated beverages Americans consume daily. People in Israel could not readily purchase sweets, so they loved their sweet juices!


As grapes and other fruits were so important a part of the food of the ancients, they would, by necessity, invent methods for preserving them fresh. Josephus, in his Jewish Wars, b. vii, c, viii. s. 4, makes mention of a fortress in Palestine called Masada, built by Herod. -Anti-Baccus, p. 162:

1. Grape juice will not ferment when the air is completely excluded.

2. By boiling down the juice, or, in other words, evaporating the water, the substance becomes a syrup, which is very thick and will not ferment.

3. If the juice be filtered and deprived of its gluten, or ferment, the production of alcohol will be impossible.

Dr. Ure, the eminent chemist, says that fermentation may be tempered or stopped. -Anti-Bacchus, p. 225

1. By those means which render the yeast inoperative, particularly by the oils that contain sulphur, as oil of muster, and also by the sulphurous and sulfuric acids.

2. By the separation of the yeast, either by the filter or subsidence.

3. By lowering the temperature to 45. If the fermenting mass becomes clear at this temperature and be drawn off from the subsided yeast, it will not ferment again, though it should be heated to the proper pitch.

Baron Liebig, in his Letters on Chemistry, says: “If a flask be filled with grape-juice and made airtight, and then kept for a few hours in boiling water, The wine does not now ferment.” -Bible Commentary, xxxvii. Here we have two of the preventatives, viz., the exclusion of the air, and the raising of the temperature to the boiling point.

The unalterable laws of nature, which are the laws of God, teach these stern facts:

1. That very sweet juices and thick syrups will not undergo the vinous fermentation.

2. That the direct and inevitable fermentation of the sweet juices, in hot climates with the temperature above 75, will be the acetous.

3. That so secure the vinous fermentation the temperature must be between 50 and 75, and that the exact proportions of sugar and gluten and water must be secured.

4. That all fermentation may be prevented by excluding the air, by boiling, by filtration, by subsidence, and by the use of sulphur.

Augustine Camlet, the learned author of the Dictionary of the Bible, born in 1672, says, “The ancients possessed the secret of preserving wines sweet throughout the whole year.”

So, the ancients boiled the juice down so it was like our “concentrated” drinks... just add water. This assured them they would not turn acidic. People who have juices out in the warm weather assume they ferment because of the strong smell. They are only acidic. There must be yeast and sugar at the correct temperature.


Parkinson, in his Theatrum Batanicum, says, “The juice of liquor pressed out of the ripe grapes is called vinum (wine.) Of it is made both sapa and derfutum, in English cute that is to say, BOILED WINE, the latter boiled down to half, that former to the third part.” -Bible Commentary, xxxvi. This testimony was written about A.D. 1640, centuries before there was any temperance agitation.

Aristotle, born 384 B.C. says, “The wine of Arcadia was so thick that it was necessary to scrape it from the skin bottles in which it was contained, and to dissolve the scrapings in water.” -Bible Commentary, p. 295, and Nott, London Edition, p. 80

Columella and other writers who were contemporary with the apostles inform us that “in Italy and Greece it was common to boil their wines.” -Dr. Nott.

Professor Donovan says, “In order to preserve their wines to these ages, the Romans concentrated the must of grape-juice, of which they were made, by evaporation, either spontaneous in the air or over a fire, and so much so as to render them thick and syrupy.” -Bible Commentary, p. 295.

Horace, born 65 B.C., says, “there is no wine sweeter to drink than Lesbian; it was like nectar, and more resembled ambrosia than wine; that it was perfectly harmless, and would not produce intoxication.” -Anti-Bacchus, p. 220

Volney, 1788, in his Travels in Syria, vol. ii, chap. 29, says: “The wines are of three sorts, the red, the white, and the yellow. The white, which are the most rare, are so bitter as to be disagreeable; the two others, on the contrary, are too sweet and sugary. This arises from their being boiled, which makes them resemble the baked wines of Provence. The general custom of the country is to reduce the must of two-thirds of its quantity.” “The most esteemed is produced from the hillside of Zouk—it is too sugary.” “Such are the wines of Lebanon, so boasted by Grecian and Roman epicures.” “It is probably that the inhabitants of Lebanon have made no change in their ancient method of making wines.” -Bacchus, p. 374, note.

Smith, in his Greek and Roman Antiquites, says, “The sweet, unfermented juice of the grape was termed gleukos by the Greeks and mustum by the Romans-the latter word being properly an adjective signifying new or fresh.” “A portion of the must was used at once, being drunk fresh.” “When it was desired to preserve a quantity in the sweet state, an amphora was taken and coated with pitch within and without, it was filled with mustum lixivium, and corked so as to be perfectly airtight. It was then immersed in a tank of cold fresh water, or buried in wet sand, and allowed to remain for six weeks or two months. The contents, after this process, was found to remain unchanged for a year, and hence the name, aeigleukos-that is, ‘semper mustum’, always sweet.”

Mr. Robert Alsop, a minister among the Society of Friends, in a letter to Dr. F. R. Lees in 1861 says: “The syrup of grape-juice is an article of domestic manufacture in most every house in the vine districts of the south of France. It is simply the juice of the grape boiled down to the consistence of treacle.” -Bible Commentary, p. xxxiv.

Dr. Eli Smith, American Missionary in Syria, in the Bibliotheca Sacra for November, 1846, describes the methods of making wine in Mount Lebanon as numerous, but reduces them to three classes:

  1. The simple juice of the grape is fermented.
  2. The juice of the grape is boiled down before fermentation.
  3. The grapes are partially dried in the sun before being pressed.

With characteristic candor, he states that he “had very little to do with wines all his life, and that his knowledge of the subject was very vague until he entered upon the present investigation for the purpose of writing the article.” He further as candidly confessed that the “statements contained in his article are not full in every point;” that “it was written in a country where it was very difficult to obtain authentic and exact information.” Of the vineyards, he further states that in “an unbroken space, about two miles long by half a mile wide, only a few gallons of intoxicating wine are made. The wine made is an item of no consideration; it is not the most important, but rather the least so, of all the objects for which the vine is cultivated.” He also states that “the only form in which may be called grape-molasses.” Dr. E. Smith here confirms the ancient usage of boiling the unfermented juice of the grape.

“The fabricating of an intoxicating liquor was never the chief object for which the grape was cultivated among the Jews. Joined with bread, fruits, and the olive tree, the three might well be representatives of the productions most essential to them, at the same time that they were the most abundantly provided for the support of life.” He mentions sixteen uses of the grape, wine-making being the least important. “I have asked Christians from Diarbekir, Aintab, and other places in the interior of Asia Minor, and all concur in the same statement.”

Proverbs 9:2, “She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.”

The reference must be to the mixing of water with the juice concentrate. The people in Bible days did not want to drink only water.


1. That unfermented beverages existed, and were a common drink, among the ancients.

2. That to preserve their very sweet juices, in their hot climate, they resorted to boiling and other methods which destroyed the power and activity of the gluten, or effectually separated it from the juice of the grape.

3. That these were called wines, were used, and were highly esteemed.

Prof. M. Stuart says, “Facts show that the ancients not only preserved their wine unfermented, but regarded it as of a higher flavor and finer quality than fermented wine.” -Letter to Dr. Nott

That they also had drinks that would intoxicate cannot be denied. All that we have aimed to show is that intoxicating wines were not the only wines in use.

To put alcohol in the human body is like putting sand in the bearings of an engine. Thanks to Thomas Edison and the study of science, history, and ancients, we are better able to know what the Bible means when it says “wine.” Our stubborn minds are prone to always think fermented when we hear the word wine.


A good rule in Bible study is to define Bible words with Bible usage.

Examples of generic words:

  • Corn—means any grain (corn of wheat)
  • Meat— means any food
  • “Coke” in southern states means any carbonated drink.


Yayin (Hebrew)

Oinos (Greek)

  1. Shakar - sweet drink from anything but a grape
  2. Tirosh - fruit connected with corn or olive
  3. Kener - foaming
  4. Ahsis - new trodden
  5. Soveh - lucious, boiled wine
  6. Mesek - mixture
  7. Ashishah - fruit cake
  8. Shemarim - to preserve
  9. Mantaqqim - sweet


Deuteronomy 11:14, “That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.”

2 Chronicles 31:5, “And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.”

Nehemiah 13:15, “In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all [manner of] burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.”

Proverbs 3:10, “So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”

Isaiah 65:8, “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.”


Proverbs 20:1, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Proverbs 23:29-35, “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”

Alcohol makes a man colorful-it gives him a red nose, white liver, yellow streak, and a blue outlook.


Noah: Genesis 9:20-21, “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.”

Lot’s Daughters: Genesis 19:32-33, “Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.”

Nabal: 1 Samuel 25:36-37, “And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king; and Nabal’s heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken: wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light. But it came to pass in the morning, when the wine was gone out of Nabal, and his wife had told him these things, that his heart died within him, and he became as a stone.”

Amnon: 2 Samuel 13:28-29, “Now Absalom had commanded his servants, saying, Mark ye now when Amnon’s heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon; then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? be courageous, and be valiant. And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king’s sons arose, and every man gat him up upon his mule, and fled.”

Ahaserus: Esther 1:10-11, “On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she was fair to look on.”

Belshazzar: Daniel 5:1-2, “Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein.”


The Rechabites in Jeremiah 35 were forbidden to drink wine.

Leviticus 10:8-9, “And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:”

Numbers 6:1-3, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the LORD: He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.”

Judges 13:4-14, “Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. Then Manoah entreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born. And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. And the woman made haste, and ran, and shewed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day. And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am. And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him? And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe.”

Daniel 1:8, “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”

Luke 1:15, “For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”

Galatians 5:21, “Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

If alcoholism is a disease, it is the only disease that lets people willingly destroy their own brain cells, give themselves cirrhosis of the liver, induces murder, family beatings, death on the highways, adultery, and divorce.


Proverbs 31:4-5, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.”

Isaiah 5:11, 22-23, “Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!”

Habakkuk 2:15, “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

There is a curse on people who offer liquor to others. If you traced down the Joseph Kennedy family tragedies after bootlegging liquor during Prohibition, you would see how evident that scripture is. Joseph had a stroke, Rosemary was retarded, Joe, Jr. was killed in World War II, Kathleen’s husband died in the war while she died in an air crash, John F. Kennedy and Jackie lost their two babies, then he was assassinated, as was his brother Bobby. John Jr. died in an airplane crash.

Exodus 20:5-6, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.”


Matthew 26:27, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;”

Mark 14:23, “And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.”

Luke 22:20, “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

1 Corinthians 11:25, “After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Fermented wine is never connected with the Lord’s Supper. It was called juice. It was called the cup of the vine. Leaven and yeast were a picture of sin. Jesus never sinned. He knew the commands in the Old Testament against liquor and never broke one. Therefore, His first miracle simply was turning water into grape juice.


Christians are not to look at, drink, sell, make, or deliver liquor. Television commercials and billboards of liquor should not be viewed. It is time Christians obey God’s Word and forget what society says is acceptable.

Scripture verses are from the King James Holy Bible.
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