Question:

Was Timothy a Nazirite? It appeared that he was reluctant to take the wine ( grape juice) so I know that if he was a Nazirite he would not take even grapes or grape juice for medicine. I was told that it had to be alcohol because he could drink grape juice if he wasn’t a Nazirite.

Answer:

"No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments" (I Timothy 5:23).

As a Christian, Timothy would partake in the weekly memorial of Christ's death. This included grape juice. "For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (I Corinthians 11:23-26). Therefore, Timothy could not be a Nazirite, which forbade the use of anything made from grapes.

Since it is clearly implied that Timothy was avoiding oinos, which is a generic word for any beverage made from grapes, and we know Timothy would be consuming grape juice for the Lord's Supper, we must conclude that Paul is referring to a fermented beverage. Wine is known to help with some digestive problems:

"A new Spanish study suggests that sipping about 9 ounces of Merlot or a low-alcohol red wine changed the mix of good and bad bacteria typically found in the colon in ways that can benefit your health. ... researchers suspect it's not due to the alcohol but to the polyphenol compounds found in the wine." [Cari Nierenberg, "Drinking Red Wine Is Good for Gut Bacteria," WebMD, 25 May 2012].

Interestingly, abuse of alcohol will cause stomach issues [https://www.alcohol.org/comorbid/gastritis/], thus, Paul's suggestion of a little wine for stomach ailments makes sense scientifically.

Question:

Thank you, Jeffrey, that makes sense.

I wonder if the same qualities that were in alcohol, in this case, would have been present in grape juice but they didn’t know it at that time so used a small amount of alcohol. I’m sure that, given the same diagnosis today, no medical doctor would even suggest alcohol as a treatment for any internal ailment.

I am debating my Anglican minister on what should be used in the communion cup at the Lord’s Supper and he’s using every argument in the book to defend his understanding of it being alcohol. The Timothy treatment came up as a general item of discussion so I wanted to get that one settled as well. I personally don’t think that there’s any place in a good Christian church for alcohol in any capacity and my pastor sees otherwise.

Answer:

Yes, there are far better medications for intestinal ailments today than they had access to back then, but we have to acknowledge that what they did have did work in some cases. Alcohol is still used in some medications today simply because some chemicals dissolve better in alcohol than in water.

In regards to the Lord's Supper, it must be noted that oinos is not used to speak of the contents of the cup for the Lord's Supper. It is only referred to as the fruit of the vine. See Can fermented grape juice (wine) be used in the Lord's Supper?

Instead of trying to force the Anglican Church into the New Testament model of Christianity, have you considered worshiping with a church that follows the Bible more strictly?

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