Search the web, or ask around, and you’ll find lots of opinions about whether Christians should drink alchohol. Some people says it’s wrong (ie, sinful), and they have Scripture to reinforce their opinion. Some people say it’s not wrong (ie, not a sin), but still something to be discouraged, and they have Scripture to reinforce their opinion. Others say it’s not wrong to drink, and there is no reason to discourage drinking; it just needs to be done in moderation (ie, don’t get drunk) and may need to be avoided in certain situations (ie, don’t cause a fellow believe to stumble into sin); these also have Scripture to reinforce their position.
I think these arguments, like so many arguments, miss the point by focusing on the action (ie, the “do” or the “don’t”) instead of the purpose (ie, the “why”).
It is my intent, therefore, to take a Biblical look at the purpose of Alcohol.
In order to find passages discussing alcohol and to distinguish between different types of alcohol, let’s first review the different words used for alcohol in the Bible.
yayin (H3196) – Typically translated as “wine” in the Old Testament. Strong’s definition: “from an unused root meaning to effervesce.”
she?ka?r (H7941) – Typically translated as “strong drink” in the Old Testament. Strong’s definition: “an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor.”
ti?yro?sh (H8492) – Typically translated as “new wine” or “sweet wine” in the Old Testament. Wine which has been freshly pressed.
oinos (G3631) – The New Testament equivalent of “yayin.”
sikera (G4608) – The New Testament equivalent of “she?ka?r.”
gleukos (G1098) – The New Testament equivalent of “ti?yro?sh.”
There are a few other words used for various forms of alcohol, but they are used rarely or are minor variations of the words above. These word forms are sufficient to determine the usage of alcohol in the Bible and the intended purpose of alcohol. If it comes to light that a different word provides significant insight, the list will be revised.