Jesus, Peter, and Paul condemn drunkenness and the abuse of alcohol.
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly (Luke 21:34).
For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles--when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries (1 Peter 4:3).
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).
The abuse of wine and drunkenness are explicitly condemned in the New Testament, as well as in the Old Testament. However, one never finds any hint that the godly use of wine is prohibited.
Jesus Drank Alcohol
Jesus drank enough wine that some people accused him of being a drunkard:
For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a winebibber [drunkard], a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:33-34).
Jesus is drawing a parallel between himself and John the Baptist. The Jewish leaders condemned John for being an ascetic, for not eating bread and for not drinking wine.
Jesus was condemned for the exact opposite, for eating much bread and for drinking much wine. Jesus shocked the Jewish leaders by not only befriending sinners, but also by eating and drinking alcohol with them.
This passage ought to give pause to those who argue that we should abstain from alcohol for the sake of avoiding “any appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Jesus never sinned. He avoided all appearances of evil, yet he also drank alcohol. Let us not try to be holier than Jesus.
Jesus Made Alcohol
Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine, creating 120-180 gallons of wine. This not “new wine,” but fine-aged wine:
And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (John 2:10).
Jesus’ first miracle not only testified to his deity, but it also announced the return from exile. Remember that throughout the Old Testament, the abundance of wine is a symbol of blessing. By creating a massive amount of wine, Jesus provided a vivid picture of the return of blessing. The kingdom of God was being established, and Jesus’ first miracle proclaimed this fact. There is wine! There is much wine! There is much fine-aged wine! Ho! Everyone who thirsts! Come! This miracle was an announcement and an invitation into the kingdom of God.
Wine and the Lord’s Supper
When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, he says that the cup symbolically represents his blood:
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:27-28).
Notice that the contents of the cup are not in doubt:
But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26:27-29).
The cup contained the “fruit of the vine,” which is an obvious reference to wine. Some prohibitionists and abstentionists argue that this was non-alcoholic grape juice. While this may seem possible, no scholar takes this claim seriously.
Furthermore, the early church used wine in their celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you (1 Corinthians 11:20-22).
Paul berates the Corinthians for getting drunk while celebrating the Lord’s Supper. Notice, though, that Paul does not tell them to remove the alcohol from the Lord’s Supper. He condemns them for abusing alcohol, not for the mere use of alcohol.
As Jesus, his disciples, and the apostolic church all used wine in the Lord’s Supper, so we ought also to use wine in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper. If we remove wine from the Lord’s Supper, then we are removing a sign of blessing.
The communion cup is supposed to be a cup of blessing:
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16).
In the Bible, prohibition is a curse. The church that prohibits wine from the communion cup is self-imposing a curse upon what is supposed to be a blessing.