A question about Galatians 5:20


Many people argue that it’s okay to drink alcohol in moderation, since Jesus supposedly drank wine at the wedding in Cana. However, Galatians 5:20 says that drug use is sinful, and alcohol is a drug, which implies that it’s wrong to drink alcohol. That’s why I believe that Jesus did not drink wine, and it’s sinful for Christians to drink alcohol.

What’s your response to my opinion?


Gal. 5:20-21 mentions drunkenness and revelry, which are excesses. Indeed, the sins it lists are all those of excess. Should we not have marital sex because lust is on the list, as well?

There is no need to go overboard into total abstinence when the Scripture only prohibits excess. And if we could not take any drugs, we couldn’t take pain relievers or anesthetics or any other medicine whatsoever. :slight_smile:


Using drugs for medical purposes is not morally equivalent to using drugs casually; the latter is a sin.


My response is to suggest that since you are a Catholic, use a Catholic translation of the Bible such as the NAB or NRSV.

The Greek word used by Saint Paul that you see translated as drugs in whatever Bible you’ve got is “pharmakeia”. If you want to be literal then you can translate it as drugs, but then you are still left wondering what Saint Paul meant. What kind of drugs was he talking about? Did he mean medicine? Did he have something else in mind? When people read or heard the word pharmakeia 2000 years ago, what would they have understood him to be saying?

Catholic translations (and the vast majority of non-Catholic translations as well) use either the word sorcery or witchcraft. The reason is because at the time, people didn’t have the modern understanding of medicine that we have today. Drugs back then were associated with the mystical. People in Galatia hearing this letter read at Mass wouldn’t be thinking, “Well, no more drinking alcohol I guess”. They would be thinking, “No more buying spells or potions from the local apothecary.”

As Catholics especially, common sense tells us that it can’t be sinful to drink alcohol because the Precious Blood is alcoholic. Does it make any sense, if drinking wine is sinful, for Jesus to say, “Do this in memory of me,” and then pass around a chalice full of wine to his apostles?


Hmmm, what was in the cup that our Lord passed at the last supper?
Think it through no rash decisions please!

What is poured in the cup that the priest consacrates at the altar every day during the Eucharist?

As others have correctly pointed out it is EXCESSES that are sinful, any excess. :wink:


Galatians is not saying it is sinful to drink. The end. :wink:

Jesus drank wine…in fact he said the son of man (he himself) both ate and drank…(was called a drunkard -though he was not)

Such was used (required) for Jewish rites he observed…(and scripture supports right use of alcohol and the Church teaches that such is not sinful).

Drinking alcohol to excess is sinful. Drunkenness (loss of reason say) is gravely so.

But drinking wine is not per say sinful.


1 Timothy 5:23 Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.



Jesus drank wine…in fact he said the son of man (he himself) both ate and drank…(was called a drunkard -though he was not)

Such was used (required) for Jewish rites he observed…(and scripture supports right use of alcohol and the Church teaches that such is not sinful).

Drinking alcohol to excess is sinful. Drunkenness (loss of reason say) is gravely so.

But drinking wine is not per say sinful.

Galatians says that drug use is “sorcery”. Alcohol is a drug that people use for recreational purposes, even if they aren’t drinking with the intent of getting drunk.


That verse is about medical use, not recreational use, of alcohol.


See previous post I posted. This is not really an open question.


If Jesus didn’t want people drinking wine, he probably would have used another beverage in the Eucharist. Wine is central to the spiritual life of the Church and each of us.


How do you know it was alcohol? Maybe it was just grape juice.


The first miracle Jesus performed was turning water into wine. That was after they had drank all the wine they had for the wedding feast.

Do you really think if it were wrong to drink wine Jesus would have performed that miracle?


Sky - We know because of the fact that “grape juice” would not keep at that time. It would either turn to wine or vinegar.
Then there was the fact that alcohol would purify water - wine was safer to drink - water was mixed with wine to reduce the potency of the wine and make the water safer.

As another pointed out…the meaning in Gal 5:20 has more to do with sorcery than with alcohol.

Now - all that said - if you choose not to drink wine that is certainly your prerogative. However - the Church - the infallible teacher of the faith - does not prohibit us from using alcohol for either medicinal or recreational purposes. So long as it is done responsibly.

I’m going with the Church’s teaching on this matter.



What’s the definition of sorcery according to the Bible? According to Goodfight Ministries, sorcery refers to drug use.


The bible uses the Greek words “Pharmakeia,” “pharmakos,” etc. to describe the connection between certain mind-altering drugs and their relationship to the world of demonic beings.


You are making a private judgment that alcohol (at any level of consumption) = drugs. This is error. The re-definition of alcohol as a drug occurred only in the 20th century. It was done so as to emphasize the problems of both alcoholism and illicit drug use. This also points to the dangers of private interpretation of scripture.

From the Catholic Catechism:

2290 The virtue of temperance disposes us to avoid every kind of excess: the abuse of food, alcohol, tobacco, or medicine. Those incur grave guilt who, by drunkenness or a love of speed, endanger their own and others’ safety on the road, at sea, or in the air.

2291 The use of drugs inflicts very grave damage on human health and life. Their use, except on strictly therapeutic grounds, is a grave offense. Clandestine production of and trafficking in drugs are scandalous practices. They constitute direct co-operation in evil, since they encourage people to practices gravely contrary to the moral law.


Grape juice did not exist in the first century, and would not exist until refrigeration and Pastuerisation were invented in the 19th century.

All grape juice begins fermentation as soon as the grapes are crushed.

Wine was a accepted part of life and did not become taboo until the misnamed “temperance” movement in you guessed it, the 19th century.


It is so entirely, completely, patently clear from scripture that Jesus drank wine, that to argue otherwise seems foolish and unbiblical. How could Jesus be accused of being a drunkard if He drank only juice? Your assertion also demonstrates the danger of privately interpreting scripture.

In the typically hot middle eastern climate, with no refrigeration, how long would juice remain juice? Fermentation begins almost immediately!

Any attempt to equate this with sorcery borders on the surreal. Your opinion, and that of your denomination, is very recent and very man-made.


Luke 7:34

Jesus Testifies about John
…33"For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ 34"The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35"Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children."

He did drink according to this scripture.

Basically whoever points to a Catholic who is drinking responsibly and says, “Look! A drunkard and a sorcerer!”, is basically doing the same thing that the people Jesus is talking about in this scripture is doing to him. I think Jesus is saying that it doesn’t matter how those that serve God come, there are people who are going to find a way to detract from them no matter what.


According to that Goodfight ministries article, marijuana use (which is a drug) is sorcery. Since alcohol also is a drug, why isn’t alcohol also considered sorcery?

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