Oinos – The Hot Topic

photo of wine bottles in a row

A greek word.
With multiple definitions.
However, in English, there is only one translation of this word.

Working in student ministry, I get this question often.
“Is drinking a sin?”
And, let me be clear.
All I know is what the Word of God says.
The Word is truth. And all truth is God’s truth.
So, my most common response would be this:
If you are under the legal drinking age, then yes, drinking is a sin, because the Bible tells us to ‘obey the laws of the land. Therefore, underage drinking is always a sin, no matter what.”

But what about drinking when you are of age?
All that I can tell you about that is that the Bible does not say that drinking is a sin, however, it does specifically say that ‘drinking to get drunk is sin.’

If drinking to get drunk is a sin, then why in John 2 did Jesus make more wine for those who had already been drinking and ran out of wine?


I must admit, I didn’t usually get to that level of deep with the students, because I think they were just baffled that I would tell them that drinking, once you are of age, is not a sin.

But, I know that one day, there would be a bright young student who would inquire deeper. So I needed to find out on my own.

I have done some semi-extensive study on this passage of scripture (John 2) as well as the history of “wine” as we know it in the english language vs. how it’s referenced in the Bible.

I won’t bore you with all the things.
But I will tell you some of my findings, and please, if you have questions, shoot me an email (you can do that by scrolling to the bottom of this page!) and I would be happy to geek out with you on this topic!

After studying this topic, it is my own personal belief, that Jesus did not make “wine” and never in fact, even drank “wine” as we know it.

Here are 3 “somethings” to support my theory.


The most basic proof that Jesus did not make or drink “wine” as we know it is that in the greek language (that this passage was originally written in), the word for “wine” is oinos.

As it turns out, however, the word for “grape juice” is also oinos.

This word was used interchangeably throughout the new testament. Thus, you must be a historical detective to decode whether these people of Bible times were referencing “wine” or just merely “grape juice”

The answer often lies, not in word oinos, but rather in the adjective before it.


Old wine is what was referred to as grapes that had been crushed down to make juice and had been most often kept passed the point of freshness, thus, fermenting and creating what we know as “wine”. Most new testament jews would tell you that this would not be their perferred oinos. Fermented grapes lose a lot of sugar in the fermenting process, thus, not being sweet.

The jews liked the sweet stuff.

Side note: Even when oinos had fermented, whether intentionally, or by lack of long term refridgeration, Jews were required to significantly dilute the fermented oinos. (If you want technicalities on all of this, shoot me an email!) Therefore, even fermented oinos that was consumed was diluted to a point of extremely low alcohol content.

New wine is what we most often call today, grape juice. It, also, was most often diluted with water. Not because of any fermenting issues, but simply because it was very sweet, and adding water made the oinos stretch further. Because new wine was such a treat, it was saved via a cooling process (if you want to know how, email me!) and could be stored and kept fresh for about one year. The new wine was a delicasy of sorts and thus, reserved for special occasions, like weddings.

The choice oinos was the new wine.


Jesus was fully man.
But also, fully God.

There are so many references in scripture (again, if you want some deets, shoot me an email!) to the dangers of participating in things that could become strongholds in your life.

It’s no secret, to believers and unbelievers alike, that drinking can grip a person’s life quickly and fiercely.

Because Jesus is fully God, I believe that if He were to make wine as we view it today as His first miraculous sign of being the Messiah, that would go against God’s very character.

He came to deliver us from strongholds,
Not to make what scholars believe to be 120-180 gallons of it.

The context clues are clear. Jesus came to make us NEW (which is one of the major themes of the book of John, by the way).
So it is fitting that He would make New Wine.
Wine that is pleasing to God.
Wine that is fresh and sweet.
Wine that you can drink until your hearts content.
And one more.
Wine that would allow you to remember the day that the Messiah performed His first miracle on Earth. Afterall, no one would have remembered this moment to record it if they were inebriated.

If Jesus made and drank fermented oinos it would completely go against His very character as God.

One of my mentors, Jeanne Mayo, sums this idea up so well:

“What we do in moderation, gives permission for others to do in excess.” 

But heavens! Don’t take my word for this stuff! Go read John 2 for yourself and do your own studies! There is so many amazing treasures to find in the mysteries of scripture. And when you find something good, email me! (Do you get that I just want you to email me?!?)

Happy hunting on this hot topic!

Stay Tuned for Profound Thoughts.

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