Food and Drink - Appendix 2

Drink in the Bible

The Bible does not specifically state that water is an acceptable drink, but it is clearly the basic drink for man as well as animals. In the garden of Eden there was a plentiful supply of water (Genesis 2:10-14). Later in Genesis we find that Abraham's servant received water from Rebecca and his camels also (Genesis 24:15-21). Many other passages could be cited, but suffice it that Daniel only asked for water as his drink (Daniel 1:12). In the New Testament we find that Timothy was told by Paul to drink no longer only water, implying that water was what he usually drank (1 Timothy 5:23).

The spiritual equivalent of water is clearly the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). Water is drunk to quench thirst and this is true whether we are speaking of the physical or the spiritual need (John 4:7-15).

As well as water milk is clearly an acceptable drink. Infants get it from their Mother. This is true not only of mankind but also of many other creatures (Deuteronomy 32:14). Milk is essentially a liquid form of food and hence it is spoken of as being that (Proverbs 27:27). Scripture also speaks of the pure mental milk of the word, that is, there is a spiritual equivalent of the physical thing (1 Peter 2:2).

Then there is wine. This is not forbidden, but we are warned against drinking to excess (1 Corinthians 11:21). We are not to be given to much wine (1 Timothy 3:8). On the other hand a little wine may have therapeutic value (1 Timothy 5:23). Wine was used at the passover meal and Christ gave it to his disciples then (Matthew 26:27). The fact that the Corinthians (see quotation above) were drinking to excess would confirm that it was wine that was drunk at the Lord's supper and not simply grape juice.

Wine speaks of gladness (Psalm 104:15) and what corresponds to being filled with wine is being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4 &15-18; Ephesians 5:18).

There are times when we should refrain from drinking wine. The Nazarites had to refrain from wine until the time of their Nazariteship was completed (Numbers 6:4). Samson had to be a Nazarite all his life (Judges 13:2-5). Kings should keep themselves from wine lest they should forget the law (Proverbs 31:4/5). However, it was acceptable for it to be given to those who were dying (Proverbs 31:6/7). It would not matter then if they became addicted. Probably because of this passage Christ was offered wine on the cross (Mark 15:23). Paul says it is right for us to refrain from drinking wine if drinking it would stumble our brother (Romans 14:21).

Scripture also speaks of strong drink. This is never spoken well of though it could be given to those who were dying as well as wine (Proverbs 31:6/7).

Today most of our drinks are water based, or milk based (milk itself contains water).There are also alcoholic drinks such as wines, beers and spirits. Scripture does not speak specifically about beer as it was probably not drunk in Biblical times. The same could be said of such drinks as cider and mead. Christians should have discernment as to whether these drinks are

acceptable. The strong drinks should be avoided except for medicinal purposes. We should never become drunk which could well lead to disorderly behaviour (Titus 1:7). In broad terms wine is an acceptable drink and by implication drinks with less alcoholic content. However drinks with greater alcoholic content should be avoided. There is plenty of instruction in Scripture to guide us (e.g. in Proverbs).

January 2001