What the Bible Says About Drinking Alcohol

Updated on November 18, 2019
revmjm profile image

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

The Bible doesn't say drinking alcoholic beverages is wrong. Since the Bible doesn’t forbid alcohol, it becomes a personal decision whether a person drinks or not. There is no commandment that says, "You shall not drink." However, there are other things the Bible says about drinking.

Listed below are some of the things the Bible says about drinking alcoholic beverages that disciples of Christ should know.

Drinking for Medical Reasons

The Bible definitely speaks about drinking alcohol for medical reasons. The most familiar scripture is 1 Timothy 5:23. Timothy was suffering from pains in his stomach while he was traveling with Paul in Ephesus. Paul attributed it to his son in the ministry drinking the water in that city. Paul told Timothy, "Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illness."

Notice the apostle did not instruct young Timothy to abstain from water entirely. For a medicinal reason, he was told to mix a “little wine” with his water.

The advice was for Timothy exclusively and not for anyone else. If you choose to drink, then drink but do not use that scripture to substantiate why you should drink. That advice was for Timothy and not for you. Besides, you probably don't mix your water with a little wine.

A Hot Toddy
A Hot Toddy | Source

People do drink for medical reasons. Older people used to make a "hot toddy" to drink when they had a cold or other illness. For those of you who don't know what a "hot toddy" is, it is a combination of hot water in a mug with tea, honey, lemon, and whiskey or whatever alcoholic beverage is on hand.

Doctors sometimes prescribe a little wine for some illnesses to lower blood pressure in patients. Also, wine is prescribed to lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease and type 2 diabetes.

Drink to Celebrate

The very first miracle of Jesus was when He turned water into wine at a wedding. When you read the account in John 2:3-11, you will see that when the wine ran out, Jesus made more than enough to last the entire week of the wedding celebration. Some people argue that it was non-alcoholic, but the Bible is silent about that.

After the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine, he said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink, but you have saved the best till now” (John 2:10)


Scriptures Pertaining to Drinking Alcohol

The Bible does not forbid drinking, but it forbids drunkenness. According to the Bible, drinking alcoholic beverages is not sinful but drunkenness is a sin.

Ecclesiastes 9:7 "Go, eat your good with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved of what you do."

Ephesians 5:18 "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit."

Psalm 104:14-15 "He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate - bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts."

Proverbs 20:1 "Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise."

Warnings About Drinking Alcohol

Even though drinking alcoholic beverages is not sinful, there are some warnings concerning the consumption of alcohol.

  • The Bible does not forbid drinking, but it forbids drunkenness.
  • Don’t drink alcohol if it will offend someone in Christ. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall, according to Romans 14:15-21. We should always be considerate of other Christians who have strong convictions that are different from our own views.
  • Paul explained in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that even though he was allowed to eat and drink anything he wanted, he was very careful not to do things that would hinder the gospel of Christ.
  • All people know that it is dangerous to drink and drive. Therefore, allow yourself to drink only when it is safe to do so.

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    • Cheryl E Preston profile image

      Cheryl E Preston 

      10 months ago from Roanoke

      Amen. I had a pastor who admitted the Bible emphasizes excess only but said he preferred his church leaders not drink at all.

    • revmjm profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Minnicks 

      10 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Charlie, Cheryl, and Lou.

      I feel a connection to all three of you through your comments on my articles. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts on this one about "What the Bible Says About Drinking.".

    • celafoe profile image


      10 months ago from From Kingdom of God living on Planet earth in between the oceans

      another excellent and accurate understanding that many need to understand

    • Cheryl E Preston profile image

      Cheryl E Preston 

      10 months ago from Roanoke

      Very sound teaching. Too bad so many say the Bible says don’t drink when it does not.

    • Lou Tenant profile image

      Lou Tenant 

      10 months ago from Somewhere in America

      You make an important distinction between the mere consumption of alcohol as a sin with drunkenness as a sin.

      I’ve heard people try to claim that all wine in the Bible was just nonalcoholic grape juice in order to support their anti-alcohol stance.


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