31 Bible Verses Against Drinking Alcohol (with Explanations)

It’s important to acknowledge that the Bible doesn’t offer a straightforward “yes” or “no” answer to the question of drinking alcohol. Instead, it presents various perspectives and cautions throughout its diverse texts. While some verses might seem to condemn alcohol entirely, others acknowledge its potential for moderate use.

Therefore, approaching these verses solely as a list of “prohibitions” can be misleading. It’s crucial to consider the historical, cultural, and literary contexts of each verse to gain a nuanced understanding of the message it conveys.

In this exploration, we’ll delve into several Bible verses from the King James Version (KJV) that touch upon the topic of alcohol consumption. We’ll avoid presenting them as absolute bans and instead analyze their individual meaning and their potential interpretations from various theological perspectives.

This approach allows us to engage in a more thoughtful and meaningful dialogue about the role of alcohol in our lives, informed by both faith and reason.

Also Read: Bible Verses About Stealing (with Explanations)

Bible Verses Against Drinking Alcohol

Proverbs 20:1

“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

This verse from Proverbs highlights the dangers of alcohol consumption. It warns against the deceptive allure of wine and strong drink, emphasizing that those who are enticed by it lack wisdom.

The passage underscores the negative consequences of alcohol abuse, which can lead to mockery, strife, and impaired judgment.

Ephesians 5:18

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;”

In Ephesians, believers are admonished against the excesses of wine and drunkenness. Instead, they are encouraged to be filled with the Spirit of God.

This verse emphasizes the importance of sobriety and spiritual alertness, highlighting that the pursuit of worldly pleasures, such as alcohol, can hinder one’s relationship with God.

Proverbs 23:29-35

“Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.”

Proverbs provides a vivid depiction of the detrimental effects of alcohol abuse. It describes the woes, sorrows, and conflicts that accompany excessive drinking.

The passage portrays a bleak picture of those who indulge in wine and mixed drinks, illustrating the physical, emotional, and social consequences of drunkenness.

Proverbs 31:4-5

“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.”

In this passage, King Lemuel is advised against the consumption of wine and strong drink. The verse suggests that leaders should abstain from alcohol to maintain clarity of mind and uphold justice.

It warns against the potential for alcohol to impair judgment and lead to injustice, particularly towards the vulnerable in society.

1 Corinthians 6:10

“Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, lists drunkards among those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. This verse emphasizes the seriousness of drunkenness in the eyes of God and underscores the incompatibility of such behavior with the values of His kingdom.

It serves as a sobering reminder of the spiritual consequences of alcohol abuse.

Galatians 5:21

“Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

In Galatians, Paul includes drunkenness among the works of the flesh that are contrary to the Spirit of God. The verse underscores the importance of living a life characterized by self-control and spiritual fruitfulness.

It emphasizes that those who persist in behaviors such as drunkenness will not partake in the inheritance of God’s kingdom.

Isaiah 5:11

“Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!”

Isaiah pronounces a warning against those who pursue strong drink with fervor, allowing themselves to be inflamed by wine until nightfall. The verse portrays a lifestyle consumed by alcohol, devoid of moderation and sobriety.

It serves as a cautionary reminder of the destructive nature of excessive drinking and its consequences.

Isaiah 28:7

“But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment.”

Isaiah condemns the misuse of wine, particularly among the religious leaders. The verse vividly portrays the negative impact of alcohol, suggesting that it leads to errors in vision and stumbling in judgment.

This passage serves as a solemn warning about the potential corruption and distortion of spiritual insight that can result from the consumption of strong drink.

Habakkuk 2:15

“Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

Habakkuk pronounces a woe upon those who contribute to the drunkenness of others. The verse condemns the act of enticing neighbors to drink excessively, leading to moral downfall.

It highlights the responsibility individuals bear for not only their own actions but also the influence they may have on others, emphasizing the need for mindful and responsible behavior.

1 Timothy 3:3

“Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;”

In Paul’s instructions to Timothy regarding the qualifications for overseers in the church, abstinence from wine is emphasized. The verse underscores the importance of leaders in the church setting an example of sobriety and patience, avoiding the pitfalls associated with excessive drinking.

This passage reflects the high standard of character expected for those in leadership roles within the Christian community.

Daniel 1:8

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank…”

In the book of Daniel, we see Daniel’s commitment to abstain from the king’s wine. This verse illustrates Daniel’s dedication to maintaining spiritual and physical purity, even in the face of societal pressures.

It encourages believers to stand firm in their convictions, choosing obedience to God over the indulgence in substances that may compromise their faith.

Romans 14:21

“It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”

Paul addresses the principle of causing stumbling blocks for others in their faith journey. The verse advises believers to abstain from certain practices, including drinking wine, if it might lead fellow believers to stumble or be offended.

This emphasizes the importance of considering the impact of one’s actions on the spiritual well-being of others within the community of faith.

Titus 2:3

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;”

In Titus, Paul instructs older women in the church to avoid being given to much wine. This passage emphasizes the role of mature believers as teachers of good things, highlighting the importance of exemplary behavior in the community.

It reinforces the idea that a life marked by sobriety and wisdom contributes positively to the spiritual growth of others.

Luke 1:15

“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.”

The angel Gabriel, announcing the birth of John the Baptist, declares that John will abstain from wine and strong drink. This verse highlights the special consecration of John, set apart for a unique purpose from before birth.

It underscores the idea that a life devoted to God may involve specific commitments, including abstinence from certain substances, to fulfill a divine calling.

Matthew 26:29

“But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

In this verse, Jesus speaks during the Last Supper, expressing his anticipation of a future joyous occasion in the Father’s kingdom. The phrase “fruit of the vine” refers to wine, and Jesus’s statement conveys a sense of abstinence until a divine reunion.

This passage highlights a significant spiritual dimension, suggesting that even Jesus, in his earthly ministry, exercised a form of abstinence, aligning with the theme of moderation and anticipation of a heavenly celebration.

Romans 13:13-14

“Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

Paul’s words to the Romans emphasize the call to upright living and avoiding behaviors associated with excess, including drunkenness. The exhortation to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” underscores the transformative power of Christ in shaping one’s character.

This passage encourages believers to prioritize a life marked by integrity and spiritual growth, resisting the indulgence in worldly desires.

1 Thessalonians 5:6-8

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”

Paul’s message to the Thessalonians emphasizes the contrast between spiritual wakefulness and indulgence in darkness. The call to be sober extends beyond literal sobriety to a metaphorical alertness and readiness for the return of Christ.

The imagery of the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of the hope of salvation underscores the spiritual armor that sobriety provides in the face of spiritual challenges.

1 Peter 4:7

“But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.”

Peter’s letter to the persecuted Christians encourages a sober and prayerful attitude in light of the imminent return of Christ. The urgency expressed in “the end of all things is at hand” emphasizes the need for spiritual clarity and vigilance.

This verse reinforces the idea that sobriety is not merely a physical state but a posture of readiness and attentiveness to the divine.

Luke 12:45

“But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;”

In this parable, Jesus speaks of a servant who indulges in excess, including drinking, due to a perceived delay in his master’s return.

The passage serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of complacency and indulgence, emphasizing that spiritual vigilance and sobriety should characterize the lives of believers, regardless of the perceived timing of Christ’s return.

1 Corinthians 5:11

“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians addresses the importance of maintaining fellowship with believers who live according to God’s standards. The mention of a drunkard as someone with whom fellowship should be limited emphasizes the serious nature of such behavior within the Christian community.

This verse underscores the significance of maintaining a standard of holiness and accountability within the body of believers.

1 Timothy 5:23

“Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”

In a more nuanced perspective, Paul advises Timothy to use a little wine for medicinal purposes. This verse recognizes the potential benefits of wine in specific situations, such as addressing stomach issues.

While cautioning against excess, the passage acknowledges the moderate use of wine for health reasons, providing a balanced view on the topic.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians underscores the sacred nature of the believers’ bodies as dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. The phrase “ye are not your own” emphasizes the idea that believers belong to God, having been purchased with the precious price of Christ’s sacrifice.

This verse challenges believers to honor God with their bodies, recognizing the responsibility to maintain purity and holiness, which includes abstaining from behaviors that may harm the body, such as excessive drinking.

Galatians 5:22-23

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

In listing the fruit of the Spirit, Paul includes temperance, which refers to self-control or moderation. This verse emphasizes that the Holy Spirit produces a character marked by moderation and self-discipline.

It serves as a reminder that the empowerment of the Spirit enables believers to exhibit self-control in various aspects of their lives, including the consumption of substances like alcohol.

Revelation 21:8

“But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

In the context of the book of Revelation, this verse lists various sins, including sorcery. The term “sorcerers” is translated from the Greek word “pharmakeus,” which has associations with drug use and intoxication.

While the primary focus here is on spiritual condemnation, it indirectly warns against engaging in behaviors that lead to spiritual degradation, including substance abuse.

1 Samuel 1:14-15

“And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.”

Hannah’s response to Eli, the high priest, emphasizes her commitment to a life of sobriety and devotion to God. In her anguish, she refrains from seeking solace in wine but instead pours out her soul before the Lord.

This passage highlights the idea that in times of distress, turning to God in prayer and sobriety is a more fruitful and spiritually enriching choice.

Ephesians 5:18-21

“And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”

In this passage, Paul contrasts being drunk with wine to being filled with the Spirit. The exhortation to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs emphasizes the joy and expression of gratitude that comes from a life filled with the Holy Spirit.

Sobriety, in this context, is linked to a lifestyle characterized by worship, thanksgiving, and mutual submission within the Christian community.

Romans 14:13-21

“Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way… It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.”

Paul’s counsel to the Romans underscores the importance of considering the impact of one’s actions on fellow believers. The principle of avoiding actions that may cause a brother to stumble extends to the use of wine.

This passage encourages believers to prioritize the well-being of others over personal liberties, promoting a spirit of love and unity within the Christian community.

Matthew 5:28-30

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

While this passage primarily addresses lust, Jesus uses strong language to convey the seriousness of sin and the need for radical measures to avoid it. The analogy of plucking out one’s eye to prevent sin emphasizes the gravity of spiritual matters.

In a similar vein, believers are urged to take drastic measures if necessary to avoid behaviors that may lead to sin, including the potential pitfalls associated with the misuse of substances like alcohol.

Colossians 2:16-23

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ… Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?”

In this passage, Paul addresses the Colossians regarding the danger of legalism. He speaks against the imposition of man-made rules, including restrictions on food and drink. The reference to “touch not; taste not; handle not” suggests a rigid and ascetic approach.

The central message is that true spiritual growth and holiness come through a relationship with Christ, not merely through adhering to external regulations.

While the focus is not solely on the consumption of alcohol, the principle of avoiding legalistic restrictions remains relevant in discussions about Christian liberty and conscience.

1 Corinthians 10:31

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians provides a guiding principle for Christian living. The inclusive phrase “whatsoever ye do” encompasses various aspects of life, including eating and drinking. This verse encourages believers to evaluate their actions in light of bringing glory to God.

While not explicitly addressing the topic of alcohol, the overarching principle emphasizes a life marked by intentional and God-glorifying choices in all aspects, including matters related to consumption.

Amos 6:6

“That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.”

The book of Amos criticizes the self-indulgent lifestyle of certain individuals who prioritize pleasure over compassion for the suffering of others. The mention of drinking wine in bowls reflects excess and luxury. While the focus is not solely on the act of drinking wine, the passage underscores the importance of a compassionate and empathetic heart. It indirectly warns against a lifestyle that prioritizes personal pleasure while neglecting the needs and afflictions of others, reinforcing the biblical call for a balanced and considerate approach to life’s pleasures.

Also Read: Bible Verses About Stealing (with Explanations)

What Does the Bible Say About Drinking Alcohol?

The Bible provides various perspectives on the consumption of alcohol, offering principles that guide believers in making wise and discerning choices. While the Bible does not explicitly forbid the drinking of alcohol, it does provide clear warnings and guidelines regarding its use.

Here are some key points derived from biblical teachings:

Moderation and Sobriety:

The Bible consistently emphasizes the importance of moderation and sobriety. Verses such as Ephesians 5:18 caution against drunkenness, urging believers to avoid excessive consumption of alcohol. The idea is to maintain self-control and clarity of mind, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide one’s actions.

Caution Against Excess:

Certain biblical passages, like Proverbs 20:1 and Proverbs 23:20-21, issue warnings about the potential negative consequences of excessive drinking. These verses emphasize the need for wisdom and self-discipline to avoid the pitfalls associated with alcohol abuse.

Celebratory Use:

There are instances in the Bible where wine is associated with celebration and joy. Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11) is an example. This reflects a balanced view where the use of wine is not condemned in itself but is aligned with appropriate occasions and contexts.

A Short Prayer for Restraint against Alcohol

Heavenly Father,

In Your presence, we find strength and wisdom. Today, we come before You seeking Your guidance and restraint in the face of the allure of alcohol. Grant us the discernment to recognize the boundaries of moderation and the courage to resist the temptations that may lead us astray.

Lord, instill in our hearts a deep sense of self-control and mindfulness, enabling us to make choices that honor You and contribute to our well-being. May Your Spirit guide us in moments of vulnerability, reminding us of the greater joy found in Your presence.

We surrender our weaknesses to You, trusting that Your grace is sufficient for our struggles. Illuminate the path of sobriety before us, and help us walk steadfastly in Your light.

In moments of temptation, may we find refuge in Your Word and the strength to overcome. We place our trust in Your unfailing love, knowing that with Your help, we can navigate the challenges that come our way.

Thank You, Lord, for Your constant presence and the assurance that in You, we find the ultimate source of strength and restraint.

In Jesus’ name, we pray.