The Book of Ephesians: Do not be Drunk with Wine.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18 (ESV).

Today’s text brings me to an uncomfortable and embarrassing acknowledgement. Perhaps like you, I have experienced what it means to be drunk with wine. In my pre-conversion days as a young adult, I willingly allowed alcohol to control me. Although not as bad as some others, I personally know what it is like to sense the control of alcohol in my body, mind, emotions and will.

I was recently asked by an eighteen year old what was the stupidest thing I ever did what I was their age. Without hesitation I replied it was drinking beer and getting drunk.

We presently live in an alcohol saturated society in America. There are few places you can socially attend without being asked if you would like a drink. Additionally, there have been entertainers who have made inebriation part of their act (e.g. Foster Brooks; Dean Martin).

However, following my conversion, and even prior to that regenerating event in my soul, I realized the dangers of alcohol’s control. Thank you Lord. Sadly, I have also known people who did not come to that realization. They lived a tragic life and died an awful death.

The Apostle Paul begins in today’s text to move from the general to the specific regarding a holy walk by the believer in Christ (Ephesians 4:1, 17; 5:1, 8, 15). Today’s text contains two imperatives or commands from God. At this time let us examine the first commandment: And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery.”

And do not get drunk (μεθύσκω; methysco) is a present, passive imperative. The statement means that the believer in Christ is not to allow themselves to become intoxicated (Luke 12:45; John 2:10; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thess. 5:7; Rev. 17:2). Intoxication means to be under the influence, power, or control of alcohol.

Paul uses the word wine (οἶνος; oinos) to refer to the naturally fermented juice of grapes (John 2:3; Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:8; Titus 2:3). By extension and logical inference, it can mean any fermented, alcoholic beverage.

Paul states that drunkenness is debauchery (ἀσωτία; asotia). Debauchery is recklessness and wildness (Eph. 5:18; Titus 1:6; 1 Peter 4:4). The word asōtia is translated debauchery (niv, rsv), “excess” (kjv), “riot” (asv), and “dissipation” (nasb). All these words carry the idea of decadent, licentious or wicked living that is wasteful. This is because a drunken man acts abnormally. Rather than controlling himself, the wine or alcohol controls him.

Take note that nowhere does the Bible teach total abstinence from drinking alcoholic beverages. The command is to not become intoxicated. Some pastors have tried to attest that the alcoholic content in the wine of Jesus’ day was minimal if nonexistent. If that is so, then why the command to not become drunk?

The Bible does teach about the dangers of alcohol (Prov. 20:1; 23:29-32; 31:1-5). It also teaches the medicinal properties of the same (Prov. 31:6-7; I Timothy 5:23). It should be acknowledged that for many people, one drink of alcohol is one drink too many, no matter how small the amount may be.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Although Scripture consistently condemns all drunkenness (Prov. 23:29–3531:4–5Isa. 5:11–12; 28:7–8; cf. 1 Cor. 5:111 Pet. 4:3), the context (Eph. 5:18) suggests that Paul is here speaking especially about the drunken orgies commonly associated with many pagan worship ceremonies of that day. They were supposed to induce some ecstatic communion with the deities. Paul refers to such as the “cup of demons” (1 Cor. 10:19–20).”    

There are multiple Christian based alcohol recovery centers and programs available to assist individuals in overcoming their addiction to alcohol and other substance abuse. Check out those within your community in order to overcome any addiction.   

Soli deo Gloria!   

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