This lesson endeavors to put to rest the debate that has raged over whether the wine spoken of in the Bible was fermented or not.  The answer to this is very important.  Does the Bible condemn alcohol in any form or does it not?  The importance of this lesson demanded that I go a total of four lessons.  Please consider each of them prayerfully and humbly, I’m sure it will be worth your time.




The Need For Truth


In the year 1820 an American pastor by the name of William Patton set out on a journey to find the truth about alcohol as far as the scriptures of the Bible were concerned.  All around him there was drunkenness and crime directly associated with its’ use.  He assembled a sermon on the subject and preached it on September 17, 1820.  The result of that sermon caused much uproar and even personal threats to him by the sellers of alcohol.   He then gathered a number of his minister friends who went into the city of New York (where he pastored) and viewed the situation first hand.  What they saw shook them and motivated him to see first-hand if the Bible truly condones the use of alcohol even in moderate quantities.  What he found will be the subject of this study.  I trust that you too are a seeker of truth as he was.


“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’  John 8:32 (KJV)


Truth is not a shaky thing that can be easily overturned or proved incorrect, but it is something that when examined closely will show its’ truths for all to see.  It doesn’t need to be propped up with hearsay or helped along, but truth stands alone by itself with only the need for an honest heart to listen to it.  When it finds that honest heart great and exciting things happen because there is more to truth than knowledge, there is experience.  The truth, on the subject of Bible Wines can and will set every honest hearted person free from the chains of darkness.  I pray that you will approach this study with an honest heart and that it will be a catalyst of great change for the better.


The Question


The question that needs to be asked and answered is, “Does the Bible condone the use of alcohol as something that God has given to man for his benefit?”  It is obvious that the Bible speaks of wine and that in an alcoholic way, but when the Bible uses the term wine does it always mean alcoholic wine? 


The word wine in the Bible is the Hebrew word “yayin”.  The advocates of fermented or intoxicating wine only, often state their position this way, “When the word is the same, the thing is the same; if, therefore, wine means intoxicating when applied to the case of Noah and Lot, it must have meant the same when used by David in the Psalm or when Jesus turned the water to wine in John chapter 2.” 


In looking at this we need to view some counter-statements on this subject.  Studious and learned men have made these quotes for our consideration.  Dr. Ure says, “Juice when newly expressed, and before it has begun to ferment, is called must, and in common language New wine.”  Chambers Cyclopedia states, “Sweet wine is that which has not yet worked or fermented.” 


It is obvious that there are two kinds of wine referred to in the Bible.  One is fermented and the other non-fermented.  I refer you to the book “Bible Wines” for many more quotes on this fact.  This fact can also be proved by the laws of fermentation as we will see.  In the next lesson we will see that the laws of fermentation made the best wines to be unfermented and the hurtful wine to be fermented.  This concludes lesson one.  Make sure that you have answered all of the questions for your certificate of completion.  May God bless you as you seek for the truth.



The Laws of Fermentation


The laws of fermentation are fixed facts, always operating in the same way, and requiring the same conditions everywhere.  The facts are:

1.    There must be sugar and yeast present.

2.    The temperature should not be below 50 degrees or above 70 or 75 degrees.

3.    The juice must be of a certain consistence.  For example, too much sugar, too little sugar, too thick, too thin, too much water, too little water, etc.

4.    The quantity of yeast must be well regulated.


When we look at these laws we understand that fermentation into alcohol is not a natural thing but is man-made.  Dr. Pereira has said, “Grape juice does not ferment in the grapes itself,..”   In Bible lands, the temperature is very hot during the time that grapes are harvested.  Heat is an essential element in the production of large quantities of sugar.  It is a well-established fact that in hot climates where the sugar content is high, the fermentation process cannot proceed on its’ own but the opposite will be a rotting of the fruit. 


A Mohammedan traveler in A.D. 850 stated that “palm wine, if drunk fresh, is sweet like honey; but if kept it turns to vinegar.”  Being the hot climate that it is, Palestine has the ability to produce tremendous crops of grapes.  It has been stated that “in Palestine, even at the present day, the clusters of the vine grow to the weight of twelve pounds…”  “Clusters weighing from twenty to forty pounds are still seen in various parts of Syria.”  Because of the hot climate and the sweet grapes, chemical science prohibits the fermentation of its harvest.


There are at least four ways that fermentation can be prevented. 

1.    Grape juice will not ferment when the air is completely excluded.

2.    By boiling down the juice it will not ferment.

3.    If the juice is filtered to remove the yeast it will be impossible for it to ferment.

  1. By lowering the temperature to 45 degrees.


Did the Ancients Preserve the Juices Sweet?


It is a well known fact that the ancient people used boiling as away to preserve their grape juice sweet.  Please note that when juice is fermented it is no longer sweet because the sugar is totally used up in the fermentation process. 


It is well known that boiling was used to preserve the grape juice. 


Archbishop Potter states, “The Lacedaemonians used to boil their wines upon the fire till the fifth part was consumed…”  Others have made similar comments to prove that boiling was a common way to preserve the wine (grape juice) from fermenting.  When juice is made thick it can never be made into an alcoholic beverage.  Aristotle said , “The wine of Arcadia was so thick that it was necessary to scrape it from the skin bottles in which it was contained..”  We have already seen that grape juice called wine in the Bible when made too thick will not ferment.  This in itself is proof that all references to wine in the scripture is not fermented wine but can also be grape juice in its’ sweet state.



Conclusion of Lesson 1


This concludes lesson one.  Click here to go directly to lesson #2.  If you have any questions or comments let me know, I would love to hear from you.

A Study from the book “Bible Wines” by Rev. William Patton


35 Responses to BIBLE WINES LESSON 1

  1. Leon Hull says:

    Where can I purchase the book “Bible Wines” by Rev. William Patton?

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  3. Becky Jenkinson says:

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  12. martin valcarcel says:

    For many years this book has been a blessing and tremendous help in my ministry. Do you have any thing in spanish?

    • gregwirths says:

      I wish I did. I would love to translate this blog into Spanish but wouldn’t have a clue where to start.

  13. brad says:

    Those “laws” are dead wrong. I ferment material everyday, at temperatures typically 105 degrees or slightly higher, and sometimes temperatures as low as 34 degrees. Also, if you would like to see this “non-natural” process take place naturally get a couple apples, press them into juice, leave it sit for an afternoon, now drink. It will have a little alcohol, roughly .05-1%, a slightly lower molecular weight, because CO2 has been given off, and heat was created, all because natural yeast on the skin of the apple began to eat the natural sugars in the fruit. I have no problem with you defending the bible. I just wanted to let you know, so if you continue to work on this you can delve deaper, and learn a little more before declaring something “fact” or “law.” This is exactly why christians get the reputation they do.

    • gregwirths says:

      I give you a modern definition from on the temperatures and basic process of wine making. In my lesson I am talking about wine making from grapes, not apples or any other material. Nice try but it falls short. Article as follows: Fermentation Process

      When it comes to wine making, what is the fermentation process and why is it important?

      Fermentation is the process where the grape juice is joined by other ingredients resulting in a chemical reaction that produces wine.

      The formula for the fermentations process is: sugar, added to yeast yields alcohol and carbon dioxide. The yeast, added to the grapes converts the natural sugars contained in the grapes (glucose and fructose) into ethanol and carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is then released from the wine mixture into the air and the alcohol remains.

      When all of the fruit’s sugars converts over to alcohol or the alcohol is tested and found to be 15%, then this means that fermentation is complete and all the natural yeast as well as the added yeast nutrients has been destroyed. The winemaker then has his goal in sight, he has his wine.

      In order to find out if the sugar has been absorbed, the winemaker can use a hydrometer. This apparatus when floated in the mixture will sink to the bottom as an indication that the sugars have been converted and the wine is ready for the next stage.

      Red wines do best when, while they are fermenting, they are being stored in an area where the temperature is 70 to 90 degrees. Anything warmer than that will result in your wine essentially being destroyed. The contents inside would basically cook, just like they would if you left a bottle of unopened wine in the hot, desert sun. The cork would dry out, the protection for the wine would be gone and the contents inside would be affected.

      Large wineries will ferment their red wine in oaken kegs, and their white wines in large stainless steel vats. Unlike red wine, white wine needs lower temperatures in order to ferment properly. Less than 60 degrees is ideal. Full-bodied table wines can also be stored in barrels. The temperature for fermentation for white wines Fermentation takes place in 55-60 degrees. A vast difference then the hot temperatures needed to age the red wines.


      • Larry says:

        I read a fascinating article recently describing how one wine maker had purchased some rather expensive amphora and began producing wines using ancient techniques, specifically natural fermentation. One should not assume modern fermentation techniques which use cultured yeasts are the sine qua none. The following is from the “The Oxford Companion to WINE”, edited by Jancis Robinson, second edition.

        Cultured versus ambient yeast

        Studies have shown that in long established wine regions a number of other yeast genera are naturally present in significant populations and frequently participate in the wine making process. Contrary to popular belief, such yeast are found not on grape skins but are airborne (Duncan could find yeast only in very small quantities on the brown speck at the base of ripe grapes, presumably as a result of water, containing yeast, draining off berries). Spread around wineries and vineyards by insects, particularly FRUIT FLIES, these are collectively know as wild yeast, among which the most common genera are Hansenula, Klockera, Pichia and Toruplopsis. More sensitive to SULPHURE DIOXIDE, and intolerant of an ALCOHOLIC STRING much above five per cent, these wild yeast are generally active during the early stages of ‘spontaneous fermentations’, those occurring when no sulphure dioxide and no specially cultivated cultured yeast is added to the grape juice. Fortunately, there are usually enough Saccaromyces cerevisiae cells present with the wild yeast with the grapes as they come into the winery from the vineyard so that these latter yeast continue the fermentation above the unstable alcoholic strength of five percent, depleting the supply of sugar and producing a stable wine. Once a winery begins to use wild yeast consistently, return POMACE and LEES to vineyard soils to encourage the process, the wild yeast population tends to stabilize with a particular mixture of yeasts suitable for wine fermentation so that ambient yeast may be a more appropriate term. Such mixtures of yeast genera and species, of called ‘natural yeast’, have been more commonly used in the traditional wine regions of Europe than cultured yeast.

        Increasing numbers of Old World, the majority of New World wine- makers, and certainly all of those worried about minimizing risk, use cultured yeast, however, sometimes called pure culture or inoculated yeast. The advantage of cultured yeasts, of which only one strain is usualy added, is that its behaviour is predictable and the fermentation will proceed smoothly and, of most importance, to completion without the risk of a stuck fermentation. Individual wine-makers often favor certain strains of cultured yeast, often for practical wine-making reasons. The differences in the wines produced may often be too small to be detected by the average consumer.

        The advantage of a well-adapted population of ambient or natural yeast is that there are many different strains and, because of their different abilities and aptitudes, they may be capable of producing a wine with a wider range of flavours and characteristics, a phenomenon that some wine-makers believe is even more marked when, as is increasingly the case, lees contact is encouraged. Such a view had not been confirmed by science in the late 1990s, however, partly because of the difficulty of working with mixed culture fermentations and the difficulties of identification of the yeasts involved.

      • gregwirths says:

        Thanks for your comment. I do need to say a few things in response to it.
        Answer to the John McLean’s review of Bacchus and anti-Bacchus
        In answer to the comment given here about Bible wines, whether they were fermented or non-fermented, I have gone to the McLean review of Bacchus and anti-Bacchus. It is obvious that McLean has a passion for his point of view based on the wording of his piece against Bacchus and anti-Bacchus. Calling them heretics and referring to them the same way that Jesus referred to the Pharisees and Sadducees of his day. Accusing the author of putting forth some scheme (as he put it) leads one to believe that he knew their motives and the supposed corruption of the heart. It is amazing that the article that was presented gives a blatant error right from the get go. I will use this one error as an example for the sake of space. McLean says that Jesus commanded his disciples to use alcoholic wine at the last supper and anyone proposing any other way is a heretic and false teacher.
        It is obvious that the Old Testament teaching of the Passover was not taken into consideration here. If one will take a quick look at the Passover it will be quite obvious that it represents Jesus Christ as the final Passover lamb to be slain. Because Passover represents Christ it must be pure in every way. To this end, The Lord commanded Israel to put away all leaven from their homes in preparation for this feast. If any leaven (yeast of any kind) was found in their homes they would be cut off from Israel. Excommunicated if you please. Why is this? The answer is given to us by the apostle Paul.
        1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
        Leaven is an Old Testament picture or representation of sin. Christ was sinless and so they had to clean their homes of any leaven or yeast. To say that it is a given that all wine used in the Passover was leavened is to fall under direct violation of the scripture and of Jewish history. To go as far as to say that if we do not have leavened juice we are heretics and Pharisees guilty of false teaching is t best wrong and probably worse. Why would God command that all leaven was to be taken out of the food and the home but partake of it in the juice? If leaven represents sin then it is safe to say that the juice which represents the blood of Christ should have leaven which represents sin. How far can we be deceived by the words of men and not follow the Holy Scriptures?
        As I went through the writings of this man something came to mind as each chapter rolled by. That is, he never quotes a single scripture! A casual reading of William Pattons book “Bible Wines” will reveal a multitude of scriptures and definitions of particular words with regards to this subject. While history may not line up with scripture and other writings may not line up as well, the main source of wisdom is holy scripture for this is the word of God to us. I encourage my readers to study out this with careful consideration but in the end I think you will find that the scriptures do in fact have teachings on fermented and non-fermented wines.
        As is usually the case when disputing the word of God, some go to intellectualism for answers. But the world by wisdom has never found God. We must stay with the word of God in every thing. To this end I would like to offer a free copy of William Patton’s book, “Bible Wines and the Laws of Fermentation” as a part of your careful consideration of this important matter. It is so important that scripture teaches that all drunkards will have their place in the lake that burns with fire. Why would God make something that could send us to a Godless eternity and then command us to drink it in remembrance of the price he paid for our salvation from that Godless eternity? Someone needs to think this through again and consider the reasoning of such statements. There…
        Thank you for spending time at Focus on Freedom, I do appreciate it and hope you return soon. I remain in your service and just email me with your address and I will gladly send out a copy of the book to anyone interested. Fair enough?

  14. Larry says:

    William Patton acknowledged the use of two works “Bacchus” (Grindrod) and “Anti-Bacchus” (Parsons) when creating LoF. In 1841 John Mclean, a Presbyterian minister, published two reviews of Bacchus and Anti-Bacchus and thoroughly exposed their poor scholarship and constant misuse of historical evidence. I would challenge anyone here to give Maclean’s arguments a honest hearing, and then decide.

    Maclean’s two essays from the Harvard Review are available as links here in Microsoft Word format:

  15. shirley rogers says:

    Why does the bible say in Titus 2:3 “…not given to much wine…” And Eph 5:18 talks about excessive drinking. I believe christians should not drink but I’m a bit confused by the scriptures.

    • gregwirths says:

      In Bible days there was a practice by which those who were given over to their appetites would drink until vomiting so they could contiinue to drink. This is the practice that he is referring to. The information you are looking for is also found in William Pattons book. If you would like a copy I would love to send one to you. Hope this helps.

  16. Scalia says:

    Sir, if you’ve read MacLean’s rebuttal of Parsons and Grindrod you have sorely mischaracterized his arguments. He quotes scripture numerous times and he specifically analyzes the “leaven” objection our prohibitionist friends offer. If you detect “passion” from him, it is due to the blatant misrepresentation of the historical record some prohibitionists have committed in their misguided attempt to prove their two-wine theory.

    Patton, et al, appeal to nonscriptural evidence time and again to prove their thesis. The reason MacLean devotes considerable space to secular writings is in response to the appeals thereto by his opponents. Their citations of Pliny, Homer, etc., are so sloppy, one must wonder how men of obvious intelligence could so grossly miss the mark time and again.

    You insist we must stay with the Scriptures. Fine. Then equally criticize Patton for spending so much time on pagan authors — and give MacLean his due: He replies to practically every scriptural argument our friends produce in defense of prohibition.

    • gregwirths says:

      I have to be honest with myself and say that I have read Pattons book and was impressed because of the volume of scriptures he used. Nearly every argument is covered and expounded upon. I am at a loss of what you are talking about. On the other hand I see many mnore references to extra-biblical references by the others. Sorry that’s what I see. If you haven’t read Patton’s book Bible Wines I would send you a copy for free to study. Thanks for your input and critisism. You can send me your adress if you would like the book for free.

  17. Scalia says:

    Greg writes,

    I am at a loss of what you are talking about.

    Your statement is inexplicable if you’ve really read MacLean’s rebuttal. You would know exactly what I was talking about if you took the time to carefully read and digest what he wrote. Let me repeat: Practically every scriptural argument offered by grape juice proponents is answered by MacLean; and practically every ancient citation proffered by prohibitionists to prove their two-wine theory is refuted by MacLean.

    You have mischaracterized MacLean’s work, and that is why I decided to post here. If you were being fair, I wouldn’t bother because there are all kinds of sites debating this issue. If you really have a problem with the substance of MacLean’s work, then offer a substantive rebuttal instead of a very inaccurate synopsis.

  18. Scalia says:

    By the way, I have Patton’s book (it’s free on the Internet) and have read it. His work is historically inaccurate at best and scripturally unsound. Re-read MacLean’s presentation and you’ll know where I’m coming from.

    I also have copies of the ancient sources cited by Patton, et al. His citations are grossly inaccurate (as MacLean shows which I have verified by examining the source material).

    Our arguments are neither superficial nor are they unsound.


  19. Peter Jansen says:

    Yes – Noah was so knocked out on unfermented grape juice that he stumbled naked around his tent. And this is why priests were not allowed to imbibe on the night before they conducted a service and why Jesus was called a drunk , which is what a wine bibber is.

    • gregwirths says:

      Thanks for your comment Peter. I would like to respond. The same people who called Jesus a winebibber also said that John the Baptist had a devil. It is obvious that Jesus didn’t accept their words or accusations because he begins to rebuke them immediately following these statements. Noah was drunk on fermented wine and that’s why trouble came to his family when his son looked upon his fathers nakedness. Nowhere in scripture does the use of fermented wine bring about good things. It is the same today. Sorry. The priest were not allowed to have anything with leaven (yeast) in the temple because leaven in the scriptures is a type of sin. Any one with leaven would be cut off (excommunicated) from the people. Thanks for the comments though and I truly hope you will look at the material with an open heart and search for truth with a right spirit. I would like to send you the book Bible Wines for free. Just send me an address and I’ll get it to you.
      Thanks again

      • Scalia says:

        Greg, you have again demonstrated your failure to adequately read Maclean’s presentation. He conclusively demonstrates that your (Patton’s) assertions about leaven are unbiblical.

        I will suggest to you what you suggest to Peter Jansen: Look at Maclean’s material with an open heart and search for truth with a right spirit.

      • Ron says:


        You are correct. The priests could not partake of alcohol when ministering in the temple. It boggles my mind how some can push for alcohol in the communion service in the Church in light of that biblical truth.

        And yet, so many churches do have alcohol in their communion services.

      • gregwirths says:

        Thanks for the encouragement. I have copies of William Pattons book if you need any. They are free.

  20. Thanks, Greg. Here are a couple of written messages by John MacArthur, highly respected author by many evangelicals, including young ones, that help to confirm a strong Biblical stand in this area of alcohol. Here are 2 links: Message 1 and Message 2.

    I trust they will be of additional help to others seeking for Biblical answers concerning this subject.

    God bless you. I have had Patton’s book for a long time and just now looked online for it. That’s how I found you. Thanks.

    • gregwirths says:

      Thanks for your comment. All seekers will find the truth and the truth will make them and us free! Thanks to God for freedom from alcohol. I have copies of Pattons book if you need any, they are free.

    • Scalia says:

      HI, David. The sermons you posted do not at all engage Maclean’s presentation. Moreover, he specifically engages and refutes the major points MacArthur makes. I suggest you read Maclean’s paper with an open mind. I have invited Greg to do so, but so far nothing has been forthcoming.

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