I'm not looking for a debate because I know that this is a hot topic, so I promise to post only once. I wanted the chance to comment on the wine thread started by Kevin but now it is locked. I don't care if this thread will be locked...I only want to prove the true meaning of wine using exegesis and biblical hermeneutics.
Whenever it says they have wine in the Bible, they have wine (not grape juice). Wine, by definition, has alcoholic content. That is not just English usage, but also Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Where the Bible says wine, it means wine -- wine with alcoholic content (there is no other kind). Grape juice naturally ferments. I am no oenologist, but my understanding is that grapes have a natural yeast that adheres to their skins (different types of yeast in different geographical areas). Nowadays, vintners kill off the natural yeast so that they can use their own for a more predictable result. But in antiquity, there was no way to do this (no access to sulfur dioxide). As a result "new wine" or "must" (Greek /tryx/, Hebrew /tiyrosh/) began fermenting naturally within six hours after pressing the grapes into juice, and there was no to stop the process thereafter. We avoid this today if we want grape juice without alcohol by pasteurizing the "must" right after squeezing the grapes. But in antiquity, the only way a person could ever even have had grape juice which was not fermented was to have a swig right out of the vat and right after pressing. Fermentation occurs naturally and continues until all of the yeast is used up / dies off, resulting in a by volume content of at most 15% alcohol. They did water down their wine in antiquity very often (this was the Greek practice, at any rate), but even watered down, there was alcohol present. In short, there is no Greek or Hebrew word for "grape juice" meaning "non-alcoholic juice" -- that idea / concept was unknown for lack of pasteurization and modern methods of killing the yeast. Samson had to drink water -- he was not even allowed to eat/drink anything that had anything to do with the grape and for just this reason. Proverbs 23:31: Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. Note that the wine has already been poured here and is about to be consumed (that is, we are not talking about any process of fermentation: this wine is ready for consumption and the fermentation process long ago completed). Clearly, the reference in "sparkling" is to the appearance of wine (" Look not thou upon the wine"): many connoisseurs rhapsodize about the color of wine (as well as its "bouquet", etc.), so that this is a well known "attractive feature" of wine which may seduce a person. This teaching was given to Solomon and he passes it along to us: do not let wine seduce you with /any/ of its delights, including its lovely appearance. The wine in the cup in the context is already wine = already fermented. As I have no doubt said before, I have no prOBlem with a Christian deciding to refrain from alcohol -- as long as they make that decision on their own without any outside pressure. In fact, it's a great idea to stay away from something that provides no great positive benefit but which can cause serious prOBlems in some people. However, as with all such matters, the attitude behind the decision is all important. For if I give something up in order to boast about it, or if I give something up because I am worried about what other people think, not only do I receive no benefit for doing so; I also am damaging myself spiritually for acting in a hypocritical and/or cowardly way (by the way, this is */not /*a brief for drinking: my advice to any teetotaler would be to stay as you are; cf. 1Cor.7:17-20). As to the point that there is nothing wrong with a Christian partaking of alcohol in moderation, apart from drunkenness, and in circumstances where weak believers are not damaged by the behavior, the Bible leaves us in no doubt. Would Jesus have turned water into wine if it were a sin to drink wine? Would He have drunk wine Himself (which He most certainly did)? Would He have looked forward in anticipation to the time when He and the disciples would be "drinking it new in the kingdom of God"? Would Paul have recommended that Timothy give up his unusual practice of drinking water only? Finally, while the culture of the Old and New Testaments is replete with the drinking of wine (a very healthy thing in those days as a little wine mixed with water having a high bacterial content of untreated water acted as a purifier), there is no biblical prohibition against drinking wine anywhere, except in the case of the Nazarites. But of course the Nazarites are the exception that prove the rule: if no one drank wine, then why would it be so emphatically prohibited in their case? And there is this: "and after that (i.e., the successful completion of his vows) the Nazarite may drink wine." (Num.6:20). I can certainly understand how someone who appreciates the dangers of alcohol and who has first-hand or up-close experience of the damage it can do would want to spare people, especially fellow Christians, from such troubles. But incorrectly teaching what the Bible actually says is entirely the wrong way to go about this.