1 Timothy 3:8 (DRB) Deacons in like manner chaste, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre

In case it's unclear why this is viewed as disproving notion that the Bible forbids the drinking of alcoholic wine:

  • By saying excess of wine is forbidden, he approves of moderate consumption: but this makes no sense with what amounts to grace juice with no alcoholic content. If excess causes drunkenness, then the wine spoken of is alcoholic.

  • προσεχοντας may be justly translated in this context 'addicted' or 'wont [to drink].'


How do Protestants against the use of alcoholic wine explain 1 Timothy 3:8?

Thanks in advance.

  • Deuteronomy 14:26 describes how to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Not only wine, but stronger drinks too, are approved: "And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household". Zech 14:16 prophesies that during the Millennium all nations will celebrate this festival: "... all the nations ... shall even go up from year to year ... to keep the feast of tabernacles.". Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 2:47

2 Answers 2


Good points. Not all of us subscribe to the view that all the people drank back in those days were pure grape juice. Sometime it was (a symbol of Jesus' blood), but sometimes it contained small amounts of alcohol. After all, the pasteurization process was not even invented then. Grape juice simply will start fermentation after a period of time, and without refrigeration, it was the only way to store longer periods. Right after the flood, Noah even became seriously drunk, and based on his character, it was probably not intentionally so.

Even during the middle ages, there was nutritional value in grape juice that poorer people would not otherwise had access to. Also, potable water was not always available, and wine and beer were sometimes the only means of getting access to water free of bacteria and disease.

However, none of these issues exist today, at least not in the developed world. And if we believe that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, why would we want in anyway to cloud our minds, and give Satan an advantage in any shape or form?

Jesus when he was dying on the cross was offered vinegar to numb his pain, but he denied it, because a sober mind is more precious than temporal relief.

The emphasis 1 Timothy 3 places on bishops to be "not given to wine" and deacons to be "not given to much wine" actually show instead that alcohol has a negative effect and should be avoided if possible.

  • What of scriptures that permit the pleasurable use of wine, and not just the practical use? Psalm 104:14, 15; Ecclesiastes 3:13; 9:7
    – user32540
    Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 5:02
  • Read in the context of Proverb 20:1 "wine is a mocker". Either God is talking about new wine (grape juice) or meeting the Jewish nation where they are.
    – Beestocks
    Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 19:40
  • Well, Noah just witnessed the destruction of the entire world and death of everyone he ever knew, except his immediate family. I contend he was self-medicating, but that's not really related to you answer.
    – user3961
    Commented Mar 16, 2019 at 20:18
  • @fredsbend interesting point. If anyone should be self medicating, it would be Job. But then Job would have lost to Satan.
    – Beestocks
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 11:43

For the most part it is not that wine within itself that is bad. The fact that alcoholic beverages are a known addictive is along established fact, and the only true method of avoiding its addictiveness is in not drinking alcoholic beverages to start with. That having been said it is also good to understand these Scriptures.

Nehemiah 10:39 KJV  For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.

What we see here is that Nehemiah is specifically calling for new wine. New wine had not had time to ferment of its own accord, and therefore had little or no alcoholic content. We see that in the earliest of Prophets the problem with wine was not the consumption of wine, but the consumption of wine with alcoholic content. In the following scripture we find that he is dictating the giving of new wine to the workers and Priests for their livelihood, and to ensure that they could attend their duties unencumbered.

Nehemiah 13:5 KJV  And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.

In the following Scripture we find that he takes the new wine as a part of the tithe, that is the first fruits of their labor, which is commensurate with giving to God first.

Nehemiah 13:12 KJV  Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.

Job_32:19 KJV  Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst like new bottles.

In Job we learn that new wine is like unto the assumption of the Holy Spirit which must spring forth in a new life, because the old life cannot contain the new addition of the Holy Spirit.

In Proverbs we see the promise of God; that when we abide in God's word, he gives us prosperity.

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

Isaiah 65:8 KJV  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.

What we learn from Isaiah; is that even though the majority of people may be given to excess in drunkenness, there is still some who do not allow it to interfere with their obedience to God and drink wine enough to become oblivious to proper behavior.

Hosea 4:11 KJV  Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

Hosea warns us that love of Worldly things, and drunkenness will interfere with our love for God.

In Matthew we see Jesus himself issuing the same warning as given in Job; and the fact that if there is not a new life; the new life along with the assumption of the Holy Spirit will expire.

Matthew 9:17 KJV  Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

This warning so important that it is repeated in both Mark and Luke.

Jesus further expounded on the loss of this assumption that he stated:

Matthew 6:24 KJV  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 

In Luke Jesus warns of the addictiveness of strong drink.

Luke 5:39 KJV  No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better.

So in my conclusion it appears that the Bible tells us that we must guard against becoming addicted to strong drink, and if we cannot overcome the addictiveness of Alcohol, then we need avoid strong drink altogether. After all it is not the drink that destroys our obedience, but the love of alcohol over the love of God.

  • There seem to be contradictions in your answer. A few are 1) "New wine had not had time to ferment" + "Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart" 2) "as wine which hath no vent; it is ready to burst" is something which only happens with the fermentation process; cf. Mt. 9:17. 3) Not a contradiction but: conflation of consumption of wine and drunkenness, whereas any who approve of wine disapprove of drunkenness (no one that approves of wine has "love of alcohol over the love of God"). E.g. some believe about wine that: Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 20:08
  • Sirach 31:35-37 "Wine was created from the beginning to make men joyful, and not to make them drunk. 36 Wine drunken with moderation is the joy of the soul and the heart. 37 Sober drinking is health to soul and body." I didn't see where you addressed my question, though, which pertained to why we must limit ourselves to "a little wine" if it's just grape juice. Commented Mar 17, 2019 at 20:09
  • @SolaGratia The reason it is called new wine is exactly that; meaning; That is not fermented. as far as the statement about taking away the heart: it means that concentrating about Worldly vices is an impediment to serving God. As far as the book of Sirach, it is considered Apocrypha, by all of the Protestant faiths I am familiar with and most assuredly not a part of my Bible.
    – BYE
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 13:42
  • @SolaGratia interesting. Sirach sounds very Apocrypha. Joyfulness is a fruit of the Spirit, it springs forth from an appreciation of God's character. It does not come from a chemical that retards the brain, which is scientifically the effect of alcohol, no matter how small.
    – Beestocks
    Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 11:49
  • James, Revelation, etc. all sounded very 'apocrypha' to Luther, too—luckily the canon isn't determined by man's opinion, but is a received tradition. It's also fallacious to say chemicals cannot make you joyful. What, is the pleasure attached to the marital act now not real joy or pleasure because 'joy is a fruit of the Spirit?' Of course both are from God. 'Retard', 'relax' 'calm' are different ways of looking at the effect of alcohol. All I know is that Hebrew speakers knew what wine meant, and it never seems to have been grape juice. Jesus even talks about the fermentation process..Abraham? Commented Mar 21, 2019 at 22:36

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