According to Wikipedia, Spiritual drunkenness

refers to a phenomenon seen in some Christian denominations, particularly those associated with Pentecostalism and the Charismatic Movement, in which individuals who are said to be experiencing intense momentary visitations of—or even possession by—the Holy Spirit exhibit a range of behaviors resembling signs of moderate to severe alcoholic inebriation, including unsteadiness, uncontrollable laughter, silly expressions or gestures, verbal or nonverbal shouting (not typically in the form of glossolalia), sudden intense fatigue, and temporary unconsciousness. The phenomenon typically occurs during Pentecostal and charismatic church services, usually at the prompting of a preacher or pastor, and most often involving multiple members of a congregation at a time, generally after having been "transferred" from one person to another via respiratory blowing or laying on of hands.

You can find several live recordings of this phenomenon on a related question I asked on P&N SE.

What is the biblical basis for "spiritual drunkenness"?

  • I recommend to more explicitly state in the question that you're seeking biblical basis from Pentecostal perspective (who may came up with the terminology in the first place), as other denominations would definitely NOT call that manifestation "spiritual" and would NOT promote "drunkenness" as something to be encouraged, as nickalh's answer eloquently explained. Your tag set is great as it is, BTW. Commented May 25, 2021 at 16:50
  • I also noticed when researching my answer for the Catholic understanding of 'baptism in the spirit' that several Catholic pro-charismatic bishops explicitly discourage "falling" phenomena as licit manifestation of the Holy Spirit (see this dissertation). Commented May 25, 2021 at 16:53

1 Answer 1


Spiritual drunkenness is an informal or colloquial description of a variety of behaviors.

Briefly, Ephesians 5:18 compares two states of being- being drunk with wine, which is to be avoided and being filled with the Spirit. This suggests being filled with the Holy Spirit can also lead surrendering control to God. "Do not get drunk with wine, for that is wickedness (corruption, stupidity), but be filled with the [Holy] Spirit and constantly guided by Him." https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Ephesians%205%3A18

In Acts 2, when the apostles, were baptized in the Holy Spirit, which Christ foretold " '...the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with[a] water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' " https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%201%3A4%2D6&version=NLT

Certainly, when they received the baptism in the spirit, others thought these manifestations were drunkenness on wine.

v.13 "But others in the crowd ridiculed them, saying, 'They’re just drunk, that’s all!'" So at least twice, the Bible has draws close parallels and contrasts between certain manifestations of the Holy Spirit and alcoholic drunkenness.

Regarding uncontrollable laughter, joy is commanded multiple times in the Bible. Uncontrollable laughter is most certainly one example of joy.

This being said, I'm not sure "drunk in the spirit" is the best term for manifestations similar to the definition in the question, nor that all of them are strongly supported by the Bible.

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