Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                         February 28, 2016                                                                                                                            NO. 50



  From time to time brethren have asked one another how we know the fruit of the vine to be used on the Lord's table is grape juice. I am sure this question is asked in an attempt to provoke thought. I know of no brother who has ever seriously considered using another fruit of the vine on the Lord's table - such as tomato or watermelon juice.

A much more serious discussion among brethren has been whether wine or unfermented fruit of the vine should be used on the Lord's table. One argument, I have heard, in favor of wine, rather than unfermented grape juice, if valid, would to my mind have merit, is the suggestion that until Pasteur a means of preventing fermentation was unknown. However, the contention that fermentation could not be prevented until the time of Pasteur seems to be invalid.

Hubert Moss wrote in "Pitching for the Master," June 1970, "Some reputable scholars and reference works contend that there were no unfermented, non-intoxicating wines in Bible times because the ancients knew no process by which to preserve and prevent fermentation. Other scholars contradict this position and point to ancient customs and recipes for at least five methods of preserving fruit and preventing fermentation of fruit juices---cold, heat, boiling,  straining and chemical (sulphur)."

J. T. Smith wrote in the Devember 13, 1970 "Gardiner Lane Bulletin," What About Wine In The Lord's Supper? The fact of the mater is that the word 'wine' is not used with reference to the Lord's supper. Neither the Hebrew YAYIN nor the Greek OINOS is used to designate the drink that is to be used in the Lord's Supper. The Greek word GENNEMA that is translated 'fruit of the vine.' The English word 'fruit' is defined to mean: 'the edible succulent products of certain plants.' The word 'succulent' means JUICE. Hence, the usable product of the vine in the form of juice.

"The word 'vine' is used 56 times in the Old Testament and 32 in the New Testament and always means grape vine. So, Jesus did not take YAYIN nor OINOS when he instituted the Lord’s Supper: But instead took GENNEMA (fruit of the vine). Nowhere, to my knowledge, in the Old Testament or in the New Testament, or in any other book, has the word GENNEMA ever been used to suggest fermentation. I suggest to you that if God had wanted to show that fermented wine was to be used in the drink in the Lord's Supper, there are at least two words that MIGHT have shown it (but not necessarily). But, God used NEITHER of these words, but a word that is NEVER used in the Bible to show fermented wine. Nuff said!"

Brother Smith may have been right when he wrote, "Nuff said," but Derrick Danvers of St. Richard's Church, Northold, England apparently has not been reading the "Gardiner Lane Bulletin." Danver has a problem. After discovering that "someone" was nipping "the communion wine," between services he now keeps it locked up. He is quoted in the November 15, 1971 "Evansville Press," "I can understand the temptation. It's a very palatable wine -- peach or apricot -- and it is alcoholic."

Well, I suppose, if a fellow believes that sprinkling is as good as the immersion God required, the same fellow should have no difficulty believing that fruit of a tree is as good as the fruit of the vine which God required. If you are going to substitute one thing you might as well substitute everything. However, before you start substituting, think about the result. Consider Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1 - 3; Rom. 15:4).

—Fred Shewmaker

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We often hear it said, "You can't legislate morality.”

As an example they say, "Look how Prohibition failed."

You need to know . . .


Through the years, there has been a useful body of pertinent research done by well-recognized historians on the general background of Prohibition.

For example, Bernard Weisberger, a nationally recognized historian who writes a current-events column ("In the News") for the popular historical journal American Heritage, recently addressed the widespread (mis)conception that Prohibition "didn't work.” Among the facts cited by Weisberger are:

"Prohibition did reduce drinking. The average annual per capita consumption of alcohol by Americans of drinking age - that is, the total alcoholic content of all the beer, wine, and distilled spirits they consumed - stood at 2.60 gallons" in 1910. In 1934, after more than a decade of prohibition, Weisberger reports the per capita average of 0.97 gallons.

"Census Bureau studies show that the death rate from chronic or acute alcoholism fell from 7.3 per 100,000 in 1907 to 2.5 in 1932,  Prohibition's last year. Deaths from cirrhosis of the liver, one cause of which is alcohol abuse, dropped from 14.8 per 100,000 in 1907 to 7.1 in 1920 and never rose above 7.5 during the 1920's. Economic studies estimated that savings and spending on household necessities increased among working-class families during the period, possibly from money that once went to drink." These are not the propaganda of some biased zealot, but the factual report of a nationally known historian. Furthermore, Weisberger reports that one reason why Prohibition may be commonly thought so unsuccessful is that even the above improvements were achieved with a minimum of enforcement.  He continues: “Drinking might have been cut back even further if more resources had been devoted to enforcement. In 1922 Congress gave the Prohibition Bureau only $6.75 million for a force of 3,060 employees (including clerical workers) to hunt for violators in thousands of urban neighborhoods, remote hollows, border crossings, and coastal inlets. State legislators were equally sparing: in 1926 state legislatures all together spent $698,855 for Prohibition work, approximately one-eighth of what they spent on enforcing fish-and-game laws. Even so, by 1929 the feds alone had arrested more than half a million violators. “

Nor is this "new" information; a 1968 article by historian of science John C. Burnham of Ohio State University in the Journal of Social History revealed even more data along the lines Weisberger adduces. To imply that attempts to restrict alcohol sales can't be effective ignores the available evidence. Professor Norman H. Clark’s 1976 study, Deliver Us From Evil, makes a persuasive case that during Prohibition, arrests for drunkenness and alcohol-related crimes declined markedly.

Of course, a much earlier author reminds us across the ages that "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Prov. 20:1).

—Steve Wolfgang 

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