Listen:  98 Question 3

Let’s read 1 Timothy 5:23, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”  We learn several lessons from this important verse.  First, we see the concern of an older brother in the Lord for the health and well-being of a younger brother.  Even though the Apostle Paul had not personally led young Timothy to the Lord, he still considered him to be his son in the Lord.  We read in 1 Timothy 1:2, “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”  We know that Timothy was won to the Lord by the testimony and instruction of his mother and grandmother as we read in 2 Timothy 1:5, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”  May we who are older learn to look out for those younger than ourselves to minister to their needs as a father would to his son or daughter.  May our concerns be for their well-being and spiritual growth.

We see that Paul is counseling Timothy about his health needs.  He obviously had stomach problems and was a sickly man with many infirmities.  Paul had previously instructed Timothy about the qualifications of one who would serve as an elder in the assembly.  1 Timothy 3:2-3 says, “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;  Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous.”  Perhaps Timothy became unduly strict about Paul’s admonition that these bishops, or elders, were not to be given to wine.  There is a Greek word for wine that is used throughout the New Testament.  That word is ‘oinos’.  The word for wine in 1 Timothy 3:3 is different.  The Greek word used there is ‘paroinos’, which means ‘drunkenness.’  The bishops, or elders, were not to be given to drunkenness.  The portion does not forbid the use of wine for practical and useful purposes.

It seems that Timothy had physical problems and was only drinking water for his ailments.  In another translation we read that Paul said to Timothy, “Drink no longer only water.”  Then, Paul goes on to instruct Timothy to ‘take a little wine’ in a medicinal capacity to minister to his stomach and other problems.  He is not encouraging Timothy to begin the habit of drinking wine to become intoxicated.  That thought is condemned in Ephesians 5:18 which says, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”  The drinking of wine was not to be taken in excess so that one would come under the control of it.  However, we can surely see the benefits of the alcohol in wine to calm the stomach.

I realize there are many who condemn the use of alcohol in any capacity.  To those, I encourage you to check the alcohol content on the cough or cold medicines you take.  While there is typically 12.5 percent content of alcohol in wine; cold medicines, such as Nyquil, have about 25 percent content of alcohol in them.  There is a use for and there is an abuse of alcohol.  Timothy was encouraged to use wine as a treatment for his ailments.  This was right after he was told in 1 Timothy 5:22 to, “…keep thyself pure.”  We can see that there can be a proper use of alcohol and still keep ourselves pure of defilement.  (98.3)