It has been confirmed scientifically by Oxford Population Health researchers that there is direct link between alcohol consumption and significantly increased likelihood of developing malign types of cancer. Besides, alcohol has been prime cause of mental disorders, broken relationships and crime.

  1. Why would Jesus turn water - the source of life into alcohol/wine - the source of misery?
  2. Why would the Messiah engage in such an inconsequential and trivial act of making a party go on? It does not seem right for Jesus to use his divine powers to this ambivalent end.

I have been trying to become religious many times before, but usually my drive towards religiousness is quickly quenched by absurdity I perceive in the sacred texts. It's likely I'm just ignorant, so please help me find an answer to the questions to help me out from my possible ignorance or lack of understanding.

  • 7
    It has been proved, over and over, that moderate use of wine is healthy. The question is describing the effects of gross over-indulgence as though that precluded all use of naturally occurring products. One might as well raise the same objection about eating food. And thus, the point of the marriage, the filling up of a 'vessel' (oneself) and transforming the life within, the wonderful union with Christ in a spiritual 'marriage' of the Bride of Christ (His body) and He, himself . . . . . . is missed. This is not in the least 'absurd' : it is joyfully glorious. (If one wishes to partake.)
    – Nigel J
    Jan 19 at 22:28
  • 3
    Calling alcohol “the source of misery” is a bit of a stretch considering people have historically consumed alcohol and been more happy than the modern day
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 19 at 22:31
  • 1
    Also - the catholic view is that the miracle at Cana was a foreshadowing of the Eucharist (last supper) in which Christ makes his body, blood, soul, and divinity present in the sacrament.
    – Luke Hill
    Jan 19 at 22:33
  • 2
    The word is 'carcinogenic' but wine is not.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 20 at 1:45
  • 3
    Sola dosis facit venenum. (Latin for “The dose makes the poison”.) Attributed to Paracelsus. Jan 20 at 17:06

4 Answers 4


There are two things to consider:

He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart. - Psalms 104:13-15

First: Wine is given to us by God as a gladdener of the human heart just as bread (food) is provided for bodily strength. Just as food is often misused to the detriment of human health, so too is wine. It is not the substance which is bad but the sinful misuse of same that brings ruin. Some of the healthiest societies on earth include wine as a part of day to day life.

Secondly: In the Bible the gladness imparted to the human heart by wine is a picture of the joy of the Lord. There is much written about the garden and the vineyard of God. When Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana he was illustrating the greater joy of the Gospel that would be made available for those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

  • 1
    I find your answer valuable although I don't fully grasp why would the Lord compare divine joy to state of alcoholic indulgence. I mean if that was accurate or appropriate - why wouldn't it be heroine or other opioids, which allegedly give so much more "joy" than alcohol.
    – luqo33
    Jan 21 at 16:20
  • 1
    @luqo33 I think you are equating "joy" with being radically altered by substances but it is possible to take one or two glasses of wine with a meal and not be altered but be relaxed, grateful, and gladdened at heart for the Lord's provision. Wine is not necessary for this but it produces a physical effect that is a picture of deeper spiritual reality. It is sin in our flesh that takes it and everything else to extremes. Jan 21 at 22:55
  • 1
    @luqo33 To encourage you to grasp the biblical view, consider the list of blessings this worshiper of God made, including "wine that makes glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthens man's heart." Psalm 104:15 If praise is fitting for bread and oil, so it is also for wine. Of course, most people abuse the God-given gift of wine, as they do food, and sex and so on. But properly used, we can thank God for all such gifts. Don't mix up over-indulgence with self-controlled proper use.
    – Anne
    Jan 24 at 13:47

The assumption is that science has proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that there is a causal connection between consumption of wine and occurrence of cancer or other health related problems.

I've read a lot of those studies and there are a number of variables that are not given in those articles. It is interesting to notice that in the posting of those articles, for the most part, there is never a place given for the posting of comments to allow a type of peer review process to take place.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that Jesus and his disciples did drink wine (e.g. Last Supper, etc.) that in our day is linked with cancer. Cancer resistance may have been higher back in bible times. The curse of the fall might be cumulative. Just because Jesus and his disciples were able to do something without adverse health problems does not mean we can do the same thing safely today. For example, it's probably not a good idea for most people today to hike thousands of feet up a mountain, such as what happened on the Mount of Transfiguration. Most folks living a sedentary lifestyle would set themselves up for a heart attack.

  • In addition, genetic degradation being what it is (and God being the miracle-worker He is), even if there is a genuine link between today's wine made by humans and cancer doesn't mean that the wine Jesus Created was carcinogenic.
    – Matthew
    Jan 26 at 1:41
  • Matthew, Jesus did encourage his disciples to drink at least at the Last Supper. There were likely other times, as he was accused of being a wine bibber. So, if there is a provable link with cancer and other health problems, it would be like discovering Jesus smoked tobacco with his disciples.
    – Jess
    Jan 26 at 5:38
  • I repeat: a provable link between modern wine and cancer in modern humans is not the same as proving that the wine Jesus miraculously transformed at Cana was carcinogenic in contemporary humans. Leaving aside that cancer resistance may have been higher back then, are you asserting that God can't make non-carcinogenic wine (or tobacco)?
    – Matthew
    Jan 26 at 6:49
  • Matthew, thanks for the comments. You have exposed a fatal flaw in my thinking. I've revised my post to take into account that cancer resistance may have been higher back in bible times. As a person who enjoys wine, I'm biased. So, I need to rethink my view!
    – Jess
    Jan 26 at 16:41

There was apparently no popular term for "grape juice" as distinct from "wine" until Thomas Welch discovered in the 1860s that pasteurization halted the fermentation process.

If you've ever had freshly made grape juice or fruit juice of any kind, then you have had "wine" in Biblical terms. The trajectory of modern English confirms this; the use of the term "wine" was replaced in many contexts with "grape juice" significantly when Welch made his discovery, and again when refrigeration began to be widespread in the United States in the 1920s. Even in the United States up until the advent of modern refrigerators, there was no lexical distinction between "wine" and unfermented or fresh grape juice. Many people still called their freshly made fruit juices "wine". In ancient languages, wine would only be known positively to be fermented if the term used expressly conveyed that concept, but many terms are ambiguous in that regard, including Greek oinos used in the Old Testament.

So there is no linguistic evidence that the wine used at the Cana feast carried any significant amount of alcohol.

Celebrating at a wedding feast is not a "trivial" matter to the Lord. In Matthew 22 and 25, He gives the parable of the Ten Virgins, five of whom were foolish and so were shut out from the wedding feast, and the parable of the man who refused to wear a wedding garment and so was cast out of the feast.

The Lord even swore at the Last Supper that He would drink no "fruit of the vine", until a future day of glory and rejoicing:

But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. (Matthew 26:29 KJV)

All of this points to a future day of great rejoicing at the Marriage feast of the Lamb.

Further reading: https://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/cms/i-ran-into-an-argument-that-every-lexicon-defines-oinos-as-a-fermented-drink-do-you-have-sources-to-disprove-this/

  • 2
    The story wouldn't make sense if it was barely-fermented grape juice "wine" - why would the master of the banquet commend the bridegroom for saving the best for last when everyone else brings out the cheapest wine after everyone is already drunk?
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 21 at 1:38
  • @curiousdannii There are other plausible reasons for serving lower-quality or watered-down wine after serving one's best at first, other than a loss of sensitivity to quality due to the effects of alcohol, but I will not go into all of those reasons here, since this is self-evident.
    – pygosceles
    Jan 21 at 16:53
  • @pygosceles The supposition that Biblical era wine was alcohol free is destroyed by all of the admonitions to not drink too much and become under the influence of wine rather than the Spirit. Some in Corinth were getting drunk at the Lord's Supper and Paul told them, if that was their intention, drink at home. The wine contained alcohol without any doubt. Jan 21 at 22:48
  • 1
    While I think it's troublesome to assert that there was no alcohol in the transmuted wine, I think there is merit to the claim that modern standards of how much alcohol is present in "wine" need to be applied with caution. As to the question of quality, "cheap" wine likely contained some quantity of vinegar and/or other contaminants (imagine, for example, grapes mashed with muddy feet), or even too much alcohol.
    – Matthew
    Jan 22 at 4:12
  • 1
    "There is no linguistic evidence that the wine used at the Cana feast carried any significant amount of alcohol". I read this as precisely such an assertion. Probably the downvoters do as well. Or, alternatively, if you really aren't making such an assertion, then you don't seem to be answering the question.
    – Matthew
    Jan 22 at 5:24

First and foremost, the Bible is an esoteric text, meaning that it contains hidden secrets, divine mysteries, riddles, enigmas, and parables, the language is mostly symbolic, metaphorical, and allegorical. The surface of Scripture is mainly the historical and literal interpretation and is quickly understood by the reader, however, underneath that first layer, if the scholar persists with their investigations, one will discover the fascinating spiritual counterparts. Spiritual or mystical means what cannot be touched and is not visible to the naked eye, like our thoughts, and our heart intentions and motivations.

It is in the pattern of God to take visible, corporeal, and tangible elements to describe spiritual things, that is things we cannot touch, are unseen and incorporeal, either occurring in God's kingdom or in the soul.

On the Literal Level

Water cleanses, and wine makes the heart light and merry.

On the Metaphorical Level

In this case, the word "water" refers to the Word of God as a cleansing and purifying agent for the soul, meaning it removes false beliefs, twisted doctrines, false knowledge, and narratives we have acquired in life and untruths we learned along the way about God, his kingdom, Satan, the angels, the cosmos, life, death, about ourselves, and much more.

Jesus-Christ is the Word of God, thus He is always living and present in His Word, not in inert and physical objects.

Scripture interprets the word water,

Ephesians 5:26-27 …to sanctify her (the Church), cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a glorious church, without stain or wrinkle or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.

The Word of God lives in our hearts by our faith. The water, the milk, the unleavened bread, the corn, the oil, the fire, the meat, the unfermented wine or blood, honey, the breast, these are all strong metaphors or symbolisms to represent the many aspects and different functions of the Word of God in our souls.

The Shepherd of Hermas explains the metaphorical meaning of water,

“And then she again took hold of me by the hand, and raised me, and made me sit on the seat to the left; and lifting up a splendid rod, she said to me, “Do you see something great?” And I say, “Lady, I see nothing.” She said to me, “Lo! Do you not see opposite to you a great tower, built upon the waters, of splendid square stones?”

~Hermas Chapter II, Vision Third. Concerning the Building of the Triumphant Church, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II

“I asked her, “Why was the tower built upon the waters, O Lady?” She answered, “I told you before, and you still inquire carefully: therefore inquiring you shall find the truth. Hear then why the tower is built upon the waters. It is because your life has been, and will be, saved through water. For the tower was founder on the word of the almighty and glorious Name and it is kept together by the invisible power of the Lord.” “ 
 ~Hermas Chapter III, Vision Third. Concerning the Building of the Triumphant Church, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II

“Do you wish to know who are the others which fell near the waters, but could not be rolled into them? These are they who have heard the word, and wish to be baptised in the name of the Lord; but when the chastity demanded by the truth comes into their recollection, they draw back, and again walk after their own wicked desires.”

~Hermas, Chapter VII, Vision Third. Concerning the Building of the Triumphant Church, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II

The word "wine" alludes to more profound or advanced theology, and doctrines, more than basic foundational Christian teachings, and way beyond elementary kingdom knowledge. The "wine" teachings of Jesus Christ dislodge long-term, hard to get rid of evil and wickedness from our souls. It dispossesses Satan from the life of believers, therefore the soul is effectively and profoundly further purified, and our knowledge of God is no longer distorted. It is like the soul coming out of a cage into liberty. Thus the believer is merry and full of joy. There is much gladness in the Gospels when it is rightly interpreted and understood.

Clement of Alexandria, AD200 (The Instructor, Book 2):

Accordingly, as wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man. And the one, the mixture of wine and water, nourishes to faith; while the other, the Spirit, conducts to immortality. And the mixture of both— of the water and of the Word— is called Eucharist.

  • I don't know if you have taken our Tour which explains what we look for in well-researched answers that avoid giving opinions. Here is the link: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour
    – Lesley
    Jan 20 at 15:50
  • What sources do you have for any of this? While wine may refer to advanced theology in other places, here it just seems like wine that Jesus made after his mum nagged him.
    – curiousdannii
    Jan 21 at 1:39

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