Question

When the Bible speaks of wine, is it alcoholic or grape juice. specifically the miracle of the water changed to wine at the wedding in Cana. 

Answer

Just like our English word “wine”, which can refer to fermented or unfermented grape juice, the word used in the Old Testament was YAYIN, (SHAKAR was used of fruits other than the grape.) and in the New Testament OINOS was used. In Latin, VINUM is used. All are generic terms which may refer to the various stages and kinds of the juice. The Old Testament had another word which was not wine at all, but the fruit of the vineyard in its natural condition.

The Bible refers to “wine” in many instances without regard to its character, either good or bad. Other instances it refers to “wine” as bad. And still other instances as good. Which would make more sense? To say the Bible always refers to fermented wine and calls it “good” if one doesn’t drink “too much” and “bad” if one “gets drunk”? How much is too much? How would one know when it went from being “good” for us to being “bad”? One drink? Five? Ten? The legal definition of “drunk”? Falling down drunk? Or for the “good” wine to refer to the “fermented” and the “bad” wine to refer to the “unfermented”.

Those who try to justify “social drinking”, will use the former argument and say the Bible only condemns the excess. And claim for the Jews to drink unfermented wine, it had to be “right off of the vine” else it would turn into fermented if allowed to “sit up”. But is that the only kind of wine the Jews had? Nature does not make wine. It is an “art”. What does it take to make fermented wine?

1. Saccharine (sugar)
2. Gluten (yeast)
3. Temperature between 50§ and 75§.
4. Water (juice)
5. Air
6. Exact proportions of each of these. To prevent or control
fermentation is done by altering these proportions.

Three ways to prevent fermentation:
1. When AIR IS COMPLETELY EXCLUDED (make the container air tight).
2. By BOILING DOWN THE JUICE (evaporating the water) making too large a portion of sugar and producing a thick syrup which could be preserved for years. (Water was added later to this unfermented thick syrup in order to drink it, but did not make it ferment.)
3. By FILTERING (removing the gluten or yeast) This would allow them to drink more without becoming intoxicated.

To control or stop fermentation once it had begun:
1. BY FUMIGATION: (Sulphur or mustard seed was added, absorbing the oxygen.) THIS THE ONLY WAY TO STOP FERMENTATION ONCE IT HAD BEGUN.
2. BY FILTERING: The gluten (yeast) was separated by filtering.
3. BY SUBSIDENCE: By lowering the temperature to 45§ or below. (If the fermented mass becomes clear and drawn off from the yeast which falls to the bottom being heavier. The newest, unfermented juice is taken, placed in a new container, made air tight and immersed in cold water for 45 days. (It will not ferment again though reheated to the proper temperature.)

Not only could fermentation be prevented, it could be controlled or stopped. ALL OF THESE METHODS WERE SIMPLE AND EASILY AVAILABLE TO THE JEWS.
1. They had airtight containers.
2. They could boil their juices.
3. Sulphur was readily available.
4. Filtering was simple.
5. They could drop the temperature by placing it in cold water (wells).

IN CONCLUSION: · THE JEWS HAD ACCESS TO UNFERMENTED WINE. · IT WAS PLENTEOUS. · THEY DID NOT HAVE TO DRINK IT IMMEDIATELY BUT COULD PRESERVE IT FOR A YEAR OR MORE. · WHEN THE BIBLE REFERRED TO WINE AS A BLESSING, IT WAS UNFERMENTED AND USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER BLESSINGS FROM GOD. · WHEN THERE WERE WARNINGS ABOUT IT, IT WAS ALWAYS FERMENTED AND SYMBOLICALLY USED OF OTHER WARNINGS FROM GOD. (JOHN 2:111) DID JESUS TURN THE WATER INTO GRAPE JUICE OR FERMENTED WINE?

There are seven miracles in the book of John, which are called signs. The purpose of these signs was to produce faith (John 20:3031). They were designed to reveal something about what Deity was like. WHATEVER JESUS DID PERTAINING TO THIS MIRACLE, HE DID IT IN HARMONY WITH HIS RIGHTEOUS CHARACTER. Those who try to say the wine was alcoholic do so because the governor of the feast saying “good wine” is not served after “men have well drunk”. Imply (1) The only “good wine” is intoxicating wine. (2) Those at the feast were already “well drunk”. Jesus is called the Word in chapter one. Being the Word and knowing all the evils and warnings concerning alcoholic wine, His Works would be in harmony with His Word. Verse 11 says this miracle “manifested froth his glory”. How could producing, it is estimated from 60 to 300 gallons of alcoholic wine “manifest his glory”? Those who were not drunk would become drunk and those drunk, even more so. (What is happening today to a group that in the past has knowing produced a harmful product? The Cigarette companies are being held accountable for its HARMFUL EFFECTS.) How could Jesus?

TURNING WATER INTO WINE WAS A REVELATION OF HIS CREATIVE POWER
1. John 1:3 “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (Physical creation) Jesus came to begin another creation. (Spiritual creation.)
a) Eph. 2:8-10 “…For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works…”
b) John shows Jesus came to “finish the work” of redemption that God began in the Old Testament. (Redemption had to do with sin and sin included the sins involved in drinking alcoholic wines.)
c) 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
2. TURNING WATER INTO WINE WAS A REVELATION OF HIS TRANSFORMING POWER
a) Jesus, the fullness of the Grace (Ch. 1) would transform lives, which is what the gospel is all about.
b) It was not automatic. We must allow it to work in our lives.
i) John 1:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”
ii) Grace when believed and applied will transform our lives.
a) Compare the transformation of Paul, from one who wanted to kill Christians, to one willing to give his life, if possible, to convert “his kinsmen in the flesh” (Rom 9:13).
b) Jesus could take one whose life was water, and filthy water at that, and transform into a blessing, figuratively wine. (Fermentation, which is decay, would not fit.)
c) Jesus did not come to make us feel good (high) and drown our sorrows in alcohol, but to provide grace that would enable us to handle the problems of life. ( Read 2 Cor. 12:7-10 It was grace that enabled Paul to handle his “thorn in the flesh”.)
d) Grace transforms lives by changing peoples attitude toward sin and the fleshly appeals of this world, of which alcohol is one.
3. THE GRACE OF GOD IN TRANSFORMING LIVES BUILDS STABLE MARRIAGES.
a) Marriage is a type of the work Jesus came to do.
i) Rev 19:7-9; 22:17
ii) Eph 5:22-32
iii) 2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed (metamorphoo to under a spiritual transformation. From which we get our word metamorphosis.) into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
b) The Church, consisting of people there by the grace of God, whose lives have been transformed to enable us all to live and work together.
c) (What does alcohol do?)
4. SYMBOLIZED THE INEFFICIENCY OF JUDAISM TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM OF SIN.
a) The reason verse6 “…six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews…” is mentioned. They could have all the waterpots they wanted but it would not wash away their sins.
b) John 1:17 “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
c) Heb 10:14 “…For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”
d) Heb 9:1517
5. ALSO SYMBOLIZED THE INEFFICIENCY OF MANKIND TO DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM OF SIN.
a) Education won’t handle. No change of environment. And for sure alcohol won’t solve sin.
b) (John 2:4) Shows it will not be handled because of fleshly descent or relations, but by his “hour”, the cross.
c) Since the miracle was in relation to his death, MAN’S SOCIAL NEEDS ARE NOT PRIMARY.
i) Redemption is man’s greatest need, not wine to feel good.
d) (John 2:5) “…whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” Sin is handled when our faith is expressed in obedience.
e) This miracle had as its background Genesis 49:1011, a prophecy of Christ.
6. (JOHN 2:1225) WHEN GRACE IS REJECTED, UNBELIEF REFUSES TO ACCEPT HIM, IT LEAVES ONLY JUDGEMENT.
a) They did not use the Temple and the Jewish system as God intended.
b) (When we do not use God’s blessing as He intended (grape juice), it leaves only judgment.)
c) John 2:24 “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,”
i) If Jesus knows all men, He also knows the effect of alcohol upon them.
ii) Jesus is interested in what’s ON THE INSIDE OF MAN, NOT THE OUTSIDE.
7. JOHN 3 THE TRANSFORMING OF WATER INTO WINE IS PICTURED AS A NEW BIRTH, A TRANSFORMATION.

By Danny Stanford

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