Question: Was the wine at Canna Alcoholic or Grape Juice?

By Jim Fox

Was the wine at Canna Alcoholic or Grape Juice?

The Wedding Feast in Canna in John 2:1-11 is the first of seven miracles performed by Jesus that are recorded in the Gospel of John. When I began this study, I had not made up my mind whether the wine Jesus made from water at this Wedding Feast was Alcoholic or grape juice. I was willing to believe whatever my study of the Scriptures would show me.

The Greek word used for the word "wine" used in this section is the word "oinos" and it can mean either a type of grape juice, or a fermented wine. The determining factor on this is the context for which the word was used in.

Looking over this section of Scripture the key to this discussion is in verse10. The servants have already brought the wine that Jesus made to the headwaiter for him to taste test before they serve it to the people at the wedding feast. "and he said to him,'Every man serves the good wine first, and when men have drunk freely, then that which is poorer; you have kept the good wine until now."

I would like to focus in on the middle of the verse where the headwaiter describes the condition of the men who have been drinking the wine. The section that I will be looking at is "have drunk freely".

Now I am looking all of this up in the original greek text so as to try and get the true meaning here. Those words come from a greek word "methusthosin". The greek root word here is "methuo". In Vines Expository Dictionary the first translation is-"to be drunk, is used in John 2:10 in the Passive Voice, and is translated in the P.V.,"have drunk freely"; A.V. "have well drunk". Vines then goes on to clarify the matter by again translating the greek root word "mathuo" and defining it-"signifies to be drunk with wine". It is used to indicate becoming intoxicated in Matt 24:49; Acts 2:15; 1 Cor 11:21; 1 Thess 5:7. The Passive Voice used above indicates that the men who were intoxicated (drunk) were becoming more so.

Looking up the greek root word in an Analytical Greek Lexicon, it means strong drink, to be intoxicated, be drunk. And in another Greek Lexicon it is defined as- to inebriate, make drunk, to be intoxicated.

I will conclude then that the men at the wedding feast who had been drinking the wine prior to the wine that Jesus made, were drunk.. I will then ask what kind of wine were they drinking that made them drunk? To quote from the headwaiter in verse 10 "good wine". Now what kind of wine did the same headwaiter declare that Jesus had made? "Good Wine". In both places the same 2 greek words are used.

Now notice that the headwaiter had expected for the servants to bring out the "poorer" wine, why? Because after the men had become drunk, they would not know the difference between "good" wine and wine that was "poor" in quality. But he was surprised that the groom would waste good wine on men who no longer would know the difference.

So what can we conclude from this?

1. The wine they were drinking was fermented (it made them drunk).

2. It was the same kind of wine that Jesus made, which was fermented.

Now remember I came to this conclusion from a very open minded standpoint. It is interesting and fulfilling to search the Scriptures. I would urge you to continue to do so. I would also ask you to do as Paul says in 1 Thess 5:21 "But examine everyting carefully; hold fast to that which is good". Don't base you opinions solely on what you read from me or anyone else, Examine everything yourself.


The Open Bible (NASB) The Zondervan Parallel N.T. in Greek and English Vines Expository Dictionary of N.T. words Richards Expository Dictionary of Bible words The Analytical Greek Lexicon Greek and English Lexicon to the N.T.

Return to Main Index
Return to Jack's Home Page