Some Baptists and many other evangelicals use grape juice in communion. Is this explained on any catechism (or systematic theology available online) ?

Does the reason for not using wine have to do with keeping oneself pure or the moral problems with alcohol?

  • Change "Baptists" to some Christian churches. I believe this is more of a congregational rule thing. The United Church of Christ (UCC) congregation that I attended some months ago in May used grape juice (very sweet!) and leavened bread (very puffy!).
    – Double U
    Oct 13, 2013 at 21:15
  • I have some ignorance on the matter, hence my question. But isn't the split here largely between evangelicals and mainlines?
    – pterandon
    Oct 13, 2013 at 23:22
  • I have heard before that grape juice is unfermented (alluding to the purity) and the moral problems with alcohol-induced behaviors.
    – Double U
    Oct 14, 2013 at 0:10
  • @pterandon No. I think you might not quite understand what the difference between mainline and evangelical means. It has to do with the beliefs of an individual or a group, not necessarily an entire denomination. Rules for communion are set at the denominational level. Every denomination has it's own rules for it's own reasons. Oct 14, 2013 at 13:47
  • It may be as simple as the priest knowing there is people in his church with alcohol dependency issues and not wanting to needlessly tempt them.
    – Neil Meyer
    Oct 16, 2013 at 9:39

10 Answers 10


The Protestant practice of traditionally substituting grape juice for wine during communion must largely be credited to one man - Thomas Bramwell Welch

From Wikipedia:

While some Christians consider the use of wine from the grape as essential for the validity of the sacrament, many Protestants also allow (or require) pasteurized grape juice as a substitute. Wine was used in Eucharistic rites by all Protestant groups until an alternative arose in the late 19th century. Methodist dentist and prohibitionist Thomas Bramwell Welch applied new pasteurization techniques to stop the natural fermentation process of grape juice. Some Christians who were part of the growing temperance movement pressed for a switch from wine to grape juice, and the substitution spread quickly over much of the United States, as well as to other countries to a lesser degree. There remains an ongoing debate between some American Protestant denominations as to whether wine can and should be used for the Eucharist or allowed as an ordinary beverage, with Catholics and some mainline Protestants allowing wine drinking in moderation, and some conservative Protestant groups opposing consumption of alcohol altogether. (emphasis added)

Anyone with basic knowledge of wine making knows that once grape juice is successfully squeezed and collected, it doesn't remain as juice for very long. Unpasteurized grape juice, if not consumed within a few days of harvest, will quickly ferment, rendering it not consumable (unless treated and stored to begin the wine making process).

As the excerpt from Wikipedia above states, prior to the turn of the 20th century "grape juice communion" was practically non-existent. Before the modern discovery of the pasteurization process, it would have taken a significant amount of effort to have enough freshly squeezed juice for a congregation readily available every Sunday (or less frequently depending on the denomination).

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So, contrary to the traditional presuppositions held by Temperance Movement grandchildren, the theological "roots" of sipping grape juice instead of wine during communion has more to do with pasteurization and prohibition than it does biblical exegesis.

  • Can't I say really understand the reason for the photo, but it's a good answer otherwise :)
    – Flimzy
    Oct 17, 2013 at 15:49
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    @Flimzy Wait a minute...you've never seen Lucy make grape juice before? :)
    – user5286
    Oct 17, 2013 at 16:01
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    The wikipedia article failed to mention that Dr. Welch was also working on his own translation of the New Testament, of which only the following fragment survives (John 2:10): Every man at the beginning doth set forth good grape juice; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good grape juice until now.
    – guest37
    Apr 7, 2017 at 19:21
  • @guest37, do you have a reference for that quotation? Sep 8, 2019 at 1:30

The United Methodist Church is a denomination that uses grape juice instead of wine. I am using them as an example because their reason is explicitly stated in the Book of Worship:

Although the historic and ecumenical Christian practice has been to use wine, the use of unfermented grape juice by The United Methodist Church and its predecessors since the late nineteenth century expresses pastoral concern for recovering alcoholics, enables the participation of children and youth, and supports the church's witness of abstinence.

The Book of Discipline also asks ordained clergy to abstain from alcohol in solidarity with recovering alcoholics.

Sometimes within the United Methodist Church people will try to teach that the wine of the day wasn't alcoholic or that the wine used by Jesus wasn't alcoholic. There is no absolute, verifiable evidence, biblical or otherwise, for this view.

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    This is what is what I have alway heard growing up Church of God. Mainly, if you are an alcoholic, just a small amount can be a trigger and not as much that any consumption is and of itself is necessarily a sin. Better to be careful. 1 Corinthians 8:9 "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak." Apr 2, 2015 at 18:34
  • At least in the US, the government provides an exemption to churches that allow minors to consume wine during the sacraments. This isn't illegal and so everyone can participate. Feb 3, 2016 at 21:08

All Protestant churches that use grape juice instead of wine will attempt to show that it is either biblical to forgo wine or not unbiblical to do so; biblical, meaning that the terms "cup of wine", "wine", in the Bible do not necessarily mean the fermented wine, according to them. Once they state this proposition, they add that alcohol has the tendency to cause immorality and therefore is unnecessary for use in the Lord's Supper/Communion.

Critics will point out that the majority of Protestant churches that forgo the use of wine historically (20th century) supported Prohibition and also used wine prior to the Temperance movement. Baptists are notable for this turn around. Read more about this phenomenon here.

So critics would call it political while those Protestants would call it biblical.


I grew up in a small Methodist congregation in Europe. We used wine in communion when I was young. But then at one time we had a new visitor who never joined us in communion. Asked why, he told us that he is a dry alcoholic. One sip of wine would be enough for him to fall back in to the hell of alcoholism. So the council of our congregation decided to switch to juice just to leave no one behind. We did not use wine anymore from that day onward.

This particular friend became a member and is, as far as I know, still in the congregation to this day.

You see, we didn't need to have a . . . biblical reason, if I may say so, for using grape juice. We only wanted to include everybody who wants to join us. That's all.


At least one good reason is because there are children in the congregation, and to make communion something that not everyone can participate in is contrary to the principles of the gospel.

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    At least in the US, the government provides an exemption to churches that allow minors to consume wine during the sacraments. This isn't illegal and so everyone can participate. Feb 3, 2016 at 21:06
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    In the Eastern Orthodox Church, infants are communed as soon as they are baptized - with wine (although it is only a spoonful).
    – guest37
    Apr 7, 2017 at 19:23

It will vary by church. In my non-denominational church, we use grape juice and the pastor had simply stated “they used fermented grape juice in the Bible but we use unfermented because it’s just easier that way,” which I’m pretty sure is his nondescript way of saying, “we have a lot of alcoholics in recovery in this church”.

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    @Larry R Herrin . There’s nothing wrong with being a teetotaler but to say Jesus was as well is contradictory to scripture. He drank wine on many occasions, He even turned water to wine as His first public miracle. It is also worth mentioning they didn’t have all this bottling and refrigeration we have now, and fermenting was a way to increase the shelf life. So good for you for being abstaining from alcohol, that’s a great idea, but it is very dangerous to change scripture to make it match your own beliefs. Sep 9, 2019 at 17:06

Growing up in the Lutheran church, wine was always used. White grape juice was provided as an alternative to those who had an alcohol addiction. Wine is mentioned in the bible not grape juice... and drunkenness is a sin not the actual drinking of wine. Man has injected their own perception into the words of the Bible and have made it fit their own opinions and desires.

I believe the practice of grape juice instead of wine is the product of the temperance movement and those who have injected fear and their own opinion to the Bible. God doesn't inspire his words to be written in a diluted confusing manner.

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    Hi and welcome to the site. Here's a bit of well meaning advice: if part of your answer could be copied into every answer you write then it doesn't belong in any answer! It is inappropriate to talk at length about people adding to the Bible, especially when it does not directly address this specific question. Instead, you should assume that people are trying to read an interpret the Bible faithfully and reasonably. I have edited out the parts of your answer that let it down.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 13, 2015 at 14:22

This is a complex issue that cannot be adequately discussed in this forum. The most definitive work on this subject is a book called Biblical Wines by Timothy and Liza Murphy. They covered the subject matter better than anyone I have read. They are linguists in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, as well as, many modern languages. The book is an actual study that covers the entire Bible, front to back. Chapter 7 is very fascinating because it really digs into the issue of wine verses grape juice for Communion. It is very clear that God did mandate the use of various things for His worship and many people have clouded that fact with bad translations and serious misunderstandings of what the Word of God says. I would refer all to the Biblical Wines eBook before coming to any conclusions on this subject. God bless. Check out this link from Biblical Wines.

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    Welcome! Thanks for contributing, but instead of pointing us to an external resource, we'd much prefer that you quote and summarize the relevant parts here. That way the content of the answer is always available. I hope you'll improve this answer by editing it, and that you'll take a minute to take the tour and learn how this site is different from others. Feb 1, 2016 at 21:26
  • It is a difficult argument to claim that a self-published eBook with no scholarly references serves as the "definitive work" on this topic.
    – BalooRM
    May 2, 2020 at 15:26

My thoughts on a preference for grape juice are many. (1) I am a teetotaler as Jesus appears to have been as well as John the Baptist. (2) It was important to have unleavened bread, thus it makes sense to have "unleavened" juice for the same reason. Even the finest wines have dead yeast and dregs. Yeast represents sin. The blood and body of Jesus would have no sin. That of course is represented by the "wine" and unleavened bread. Ancient wine would have been full of dregs and bitter. I am convinced that the disciples must have used grape juice to provide the purity require in remembrance of him. Of course, this is speculation, and maybe wishful thinking but the disadvantages of wine far out-number the advantages. Insobriety is sinful, and drinking alcoholic beverages is entering into temptation. God does not tempt. I honor his keeping me from temptation. If I was to taste wine, then I could longer say that I am not imbiber. They accused Jesus of that. Perhaps they would me as well.

  • Welcome to Christianity.SE. For a quick overview, please take the Site Tour. For more on what this site is all about, see: How we are different than other sites. Meanwhile, I hope you'll browse some of the other questions and answers on this site. Apr 24, 2018 at 1:04
  • And Jesus turned water into Wine at the wedding feast!
    – Ken Graham
    Apr 25, 2018 at 3:39
  • Welcome to the site! This is a good first answer, but the site favors substantiated answers and references over personal opinion. Stack Exchange sites are Q&A sites, not discussion forums. The OP specifically tagged his question "baptist." Therefore, the ideal answer would provide an answer reflecting the official teachings of Baptist congregations and conventions. Thanks!
    – JBH
    Apr 25, 2018 at 3:53

Seventh Day Adventist Perspective

As Seventh Day Adventists, we believe it is the same reason why unleavened bread was used. Bread was a symbol of Christ, and leaven was a symbol of sin or corruption (as it is a bacteria). Jesus never saw corruption. In the same way, fermented wine is wine(the fruit of the vine, aka grape juice) after it has been fermented or corrupted. The blood of Jesus cannot be symbolized with corrupted wine.

In the Bible, both fermented and unfermented wine (grape juice) is referred to as wine. You must look at the context to figure out whether it's talking about fermented or unfermented wine.

EXAMPLES of fermented wine:

Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!

Habakkuk 2:15

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.

Proverbs 23:31-32

EXAMPLES of unfermented wine:

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes

Genesis 49:10-11

Definitely unfermented as the wine is being squeezed from the grapes.

And gladness is taken away, and joy out of the plentiful field; and in the vineyards there shall be no singing, neither shall there be shouting: the treaders shall tread out no wine in their presses; I have made their vintage shouting to cease.

Isaiah 16:10

Same here. Unfermented as the wine is pressed from the fruit of the vine(grapes).


Seeing as the Bible refers to wine as both fermented and unfermented, which was used at the last Supper?

Matthew 26:27-29

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

Both "fruit of the vine" and "new" are descriptions of unfermented wine, and are not descriptions of fermented wine.

Mark 14:23-25

And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

Once again in Mark, Jesus makes the same mention of the fruit of the vine, and new. Luke mentions the same. There is more Biblical proof that this is unfermented, new wine (plain grape juice) than fermented. If anyone feels any different, I challenge you to show me Biblical proof that fermented wine was used in the last supper. You will find there is no Biblical support for this kind of thinking, only traditions of men.

Just ask yourself this. Why would God denounce the use of fermented wine in one part of the Bible, but allow His own Son to drink this? Isn't this inconsistent?

For more information on this, here are some great articles:

  1. Why I Don't Drink Alcohol
  2. Christian & Alcohol


Seeing as how this got negative votes, I am revisiting this answer, though I really cannot see why the votes were negative. From the Biblical perspective, it is clear that there are two types of wine. GOD AND HIS WORD DO NOT CONTRADICT. However, from the texts it may seem as if they do. Jesus was completely pure, the lambs that were slain, that were symbolic of His death, were supposed to be unblemished. How then can we say that Jesus partook of this substance that has gone through the process of putrefaction? More importantly, why would Jesus say that this substance symbolizes His blood? Let us try to reason without prejudice. Does this make sense?

It is clear that Jesus refers to untainted, pure wine, or grape juice as we call it today.

Now many made claims that, historically, this was impossible because there were no methods of preservation. This is false. There were many methods of preserving food and drink in Bible times, including grapes and unfermented wine. Some of these methods include boiling, filtration, cold storage, and sulphur fumigation. Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, in his book "Wine in the Bible - A Biblical Study on the Use of Alcoholic Beverages" explains many of these processes. Chapter 4 deals with a very in-depth study on the subject of the preservation of grape juice. I have included a link to Chapter 4 here.

My answer aimed to answer the question from a Biblical perspective, nevertheless, here is the counter argument for anyone that claims that there was no way to preserve unfermented wine beyond the season.

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    blood of Jesus cannot be symbolized with corrupted wine According to whom? The unleavened bread concept goes back to the passover celebration, when leaven was not allowed in the home during passover. There was no such rule regarding wine--if there had been, Jesus would not have used wine at the last supper (which was also a passover meal). So this line of reasoning I find to be rather incredible. But if it's accepted by some specific church group, that should be stated in the answer.
    – Flimzy
    Oct 14, 2013 at 21:37
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    @jlaverde: You're still making a jump. This concept of "corrupt wine" is not found in scripture. I'm not saying there aren't groups who hold this view--I would just like you to tell me who they are.
    – Flimzy
    Oct 15, 2013 at 23:49
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    @jlaverde: You're being voted down because your answer doesn't cite any official resources. It is, as written, only your opinion. And I would say, as I already have, that it is not backed up by scripture. There is no scripture I've ever seen that even mentions "corrupt wine," let alone defines in in the context of the Last Supper. The verses you do mention don't seem to have any relation to the subject at hand, except that some of them mention wine.
    – Flimzy
    Oct 16, 2013 at 14:00
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    @jlaverde the question is not exactly whether the Bible is authoritative though. You're putting forth your interpretation as authoritative with no indication of your credentials, no reference to show your interpretation is consistent with any existing doctrine. Why should I believe this interpretation over the traditional one? Specifically when the traditional interpretation fits the historical context better than this one does.
    – wax eagle
    Oct 16, 2013 at 15:35
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    @jlaverde I hate to be a stickler, but could you make those relevant to the points your making? It's good to link things, but rather than just linking them, tell us why they're important and how they support the argument you're making. Think about how you'd write a research paper, would you just dump your sources at the end? or would you work them in quoting and backing up your thesis with the ideas from the articles? that's what we're ultimately looking for here :). One of the things they don't tell you about SE is that it's partly intended to make you a better writer.
    – wax eagle
    Oct 16, 2013 at 17:19

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