The Wine at the Last Supper
The wine that the disciples drank at the Last Supper was un-fermented grape Juice because during the Passover leaven or yeast was strictly forbidden as it was a symbol of sin. In the Old Testament, the Lord clearly instructed that the Passover bread be made without yeast. This is seen in the following passages:
“On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover.And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread” (Leviticus 23:5-6).
“Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it” (Exodus 12:8).
And in the New Testament, the Lord symbolized leaven to wickedness and evil as seen in the following passages:
“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).
“Then Jesus said to them, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.” “Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6,12).
Unleavened bread represents Jesus’ body unchanged by the corruption of sin (Mark 14:22) and the cup represents His pure blood, untainted by any trace of sin (John 6:54-56). Thus, both the wine and bread were to be eaten without leaven in the Passover and today in the service of the Lord’s Supper.
Wine – Hebrew and Greek
There are two “Hebrew” words translated as “wine” in the English Bible. The first word is the Strong’s word (3196) “yayin.” This word stands for alcoholic wine as seen in the following example: “Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent” (Genesis 9:21 also Genesis 19:34; Exodus 29:40; 1 Samuel 1:14).
The second word is the Strong’s word (8492) “tiyrosh.” This word stands for non-alcoholic grape juice. This can be seen in the following example: “Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine” (Genesis 27:28 also Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 7:13; Proverbs 3:10). The various translations acceptable for “tiyrosh” are: new wine, first fruits, grape clusters, sweet wine, or freshly pressed grapes.
As for the “Greek” texts and their translations in the Bible, unfortunately, they do not differentiate between “fermented wine” and the un-fermented wine (the freshly pressed grapes), which often causes misunderstandings to Bible readers.
How did the Jews obtain grape Juice to use at Passover six months before the ripening of grapes? The method used to preserve grape juice in an un-fermented state was done by partially dehydrating fresh grape juice or boiling it to preserve it in a semi-jelly state. Then, by adding water to it, it can be restored to its original form. In addition, grape juice was obtained by soaking raisins in water.
The Bible and Fermented Drinks
The Bible clearly does not support the use of alcohol for its harmful effects on the mind and body as seen in the following verses: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1); “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Proverbs 23:31, 32); “Neither fornicators … nor drunkards … will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10). Other verses that speak of drunkenness are: 1 Peter 4:3; Ephesians 5:18; Romans 13:13; Proverbs 31:4-5.
In His service,