1. The word wine in the Bible is a generic term;
sometimes it means grape juice; sometimes it means alcoholic beverages. The following verses prove that the word "wine" can mean fresh grape juice, the fruit of the vine: Deuteronomy 11:14; 2 Chronicles 31:5; Nehemiah 13:15; Proverbs 3:10; Isaiah 16:10; 65:8; 1 Timothy 5:23.
2. The context will always show when "wine" refers to alcoholic beverages.
In such cases, God discusses the bad effects of it and warns against it. An example would be Genesis 9, Noah's experience after the Flood. Verse 21, "and he drank of the wine, and was drunken," clearly refers to alcoholic beverage. Proverbs 20:1
speaks of the same thing when it warns us, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise." Alcoholic wine is deceptive; but how? In the very way that people are advocating today, by saying that drinking a little bit will not hurt. Everyone admits that drinking too much is bad; even the liquor companies tell us not to drive and drink, but they insist that a small amount is all right. However, that is the very thing that is deceptive. Who knows how little to drink? Experts tell us that each person is different. It takes an ounce to affect one, while more is necessary for another. The same person will react to alcohol differently, depending on the amount of food he has had, among other things. So, the idea that "a little bit won't hurt" is deceptive, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise!
refers to alcoholic wine, because it tells us in the previous verse that those who drink it have woe, sorrow, contentions, babbling, wounds without cause, and redness of eyes. What a graphic description of those who "tarry long" at alcoholism. Verses 32-35 continue the same description; context always makes it clear when alcohol is meant.
If "wine" may mean fresh grape juice or alcohol, how can we know which is intended? The context determines the meaning
. We can tell when "wine" means fresh grape juice and when it means alcoholic beverage by reading the context, just as we have done in the previous paragraphs.
THE BIBLE AND WINE