No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities. -1 Timothy 5:23
This Bible verse has often been misused to justify the recreational use of a mind altering drug (alcohol).
Evangelist Sam Jones told of a man asked by a friend to take a drink. The friend said, “Didn’t Paul tell Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach’s sake?’
The man replied, “Yes, but my name is not Timothy; and even if it were, there’s nothing the matter with my stomach.”
A closer look at 1 Timothy 5:23 reveals no evidence for social or moderate drinking.
First, the wine referred to could have either been fermented or unfermented. The Bible and ancient writings often refer to unfermented wine by the name wine (Isaiah 65:8; Matthew 9:17; etc.).
Modern English translations do so as well.
Ancients knew and practiced multiple ways of preserving unfermented wine. It was available throughout the year. See “Ancient Wine and the Bible” for detailed explanation and documentation of this fact.
Unfermented wine or grape juice has the same, if not more, healthy properties as alcoholic wine; without the harmful side effects.
Health benefits of unfermented wine (grape juice):
1. Contains beneficial antioxidants.
2. Helps protect cardiovascular health.
3. Encourages flexible arteries.
4. Contributes to healthy blood pressure.
-gleaned from Welchs website; 2009, www.welchs.com.
(But watch out for grape juice with “added” sugar.)
“Older men and women who drank fruit and vegetable juices more than three times a week were 76 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who drank juices less than once a week, a new study shows.” -alzinfo.org; 2006.
“Alcohol is not actually heart-healthy…Red wine contains some beneficial compounds such as flavonoids and resveratrol, a potent antioxidant in the skin of grapes associated with a number of health benefits. Of course, grapes, raisins, berries, and other plant foods also contain these beneficial compounds. You do not have to drink wine to gain these benefits.” -Joel Fuhrman, M.D., The End of Diabetes; 2013.
However, even if Paul was recommending alcoholic wine:
1. He only said a little wine.
2. Strictly for medicinal purposes.
At most, this is only justifying a little alcohol for medicinal reasons. In addition, today there are usually more effective medicinal drugs than alcohol.
3. It is also interesting that as a pastor, Timothy, for good reason, had been abstaining from wine.
Stomach health note: If you have stomach problems, many authorities have recognized several things that may help: 1. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits. 2. Drink plenty of water. 3. The live culture in yogurt can be helpful. 4. The live culture in un-pasteurized Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar can be helpful. Incidentally, even vinegar is called wine (sour wine) in the Bible. 5. A pinch of baking soda mixed in water can settle an acidic stomach. (But, see a trusted M.D. for proper medical advice!)
-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, February 9, AD 2015.
Deuteronomy 14:26 - Does it Commend Alcohol?
Preserving Unfermented Wine in Bible Times
Wit & Wisdom of Pastor Joe Brumbelow, the book
Dr. R. L. Sumner on "Ancient Wine and the Bible"
Many more articles in lower right margin.