Excessive Use Of Alcohol?

Q. In Paul’s short letter to Titus, he mentions 4 times that the people should be sober (Titus 1:8, 2:2, 2:6, 2:12). But in his letter to Timothy, Paul mentions that it is okay to drink a little wine (1 Timothy 5:23). Did the people of Crete have a problem with drinking alcohol in excess? Are born-again Christians considered backslid if they drink alcohol in excess?

A. As far as I know the people of Crete were no more inclined toward the excessive use of alcohol than anyone else.

Of the four verses you cite only Titus 2:2 refers specifically to the use of alcoholic beverages. The Greek word in that verse can mean anything from totally abstaining to restricting oneself to moderate use only. In Titus 1:8, 2:6, 2:12 Paul used a different Greek word which means to be sober minded, of sound mind, or discrete. Additionally, in Titus 1:8 Paul was referring to prospective elders, in Titus 2:6 his topic was young men, and in Titus 2:12 he was addressing believers in general.

While the Bible doesn’t prohibit the use of alcohol in moderation, Paul did speak clearly against habitual drunkenness (1 Cor. 5:11).

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