The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
March 6, 2011
1) 1 Peter 4:3 (conclusion) (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
1 Peter 4:3
by Tom Edwards
In our last lesson we considered three things from 1 Peter 4:3 that the
Christian is to put off: sensuality, lusts, and drunkenness. Let
us now look again into this verse to see three other things the child
of God is also to abstain from: "...carousing, drinking parties and
The Greek word for "carousing," in 1 Peter 4:3, is "komos."
Thayer defines it as, "1) a revel, carousal. 1a) a nocturnal and
riotous procession of half drunken and frolicsome fellows who after
supper parade through the streets with torches and music in honour of
Bacchus or some other deity, and sing and play before houses of male
and female friends; hence used generally of feasts and drinking parties
that are protracted till late at night and indulge in revelry."
Guy N. Woods points out that this word "was first used innocently of
village merrymaking, but later came to be applied to rioting, drinking
parties, and is so used here [in 1 Peter 4:3]."
It, too, is listed among the other works of the flesh in Galatians 5:21
that will keep one out of the kingdom of God.
Other translations render this Greek word for "carousing" (in 1 Peter
4:3) as "drunken orgies," "revels," "revellings," "revelries,"
"orgies," and "wild celebrations."
Being a sinful activity, it is forbidden by God in Romans 13:13: "Let
us behave properly as in the day, not in CAROUSING and drunkenness, not
in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy."
Another term used in 1 Peter 4:3 with regard to alcohol consumption is
"drinking parties." The KJV renders this as "banquetings," but it
has nothing to do with eating, as we would normally think of a
banquet. This is now the third term in a row that has something
to do with drinking alcohol.
I would think that most people, who view themselves as Christians,
would believe that becoming drunk is a sin. But how many of them
also see social drinking or drinking just 1 beer or 1 glass of wine as
also being wrong? This term we are now considering is what they
need to know. It comes from the Greek word "potos," which
Bullinger defines as "a drinking, esp. a drinking bout [contest],
carousal." Notice that it can mean just "a drinking," which the
Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary defines as "2. of,
pertaining to, or indulging in the drinking of alcohol, esp. to excess.
n. 3. habitual and excessive consumption of alcohol." Keep in mind that
since it says "esp. to excess" that also indicates that a "drinking"
doesn't have to necessarily be to an excess for the definition to
apply. Richard C. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament,
also shows that the Greek word "potos" does not necessarily
indicate "excessive" drinking, though it can involve an
"opportunity for excess." This word, therefore, does not always
imply intoxication. So it is a good verse to turn to in order to
set forth one of the reasons why social drinking is wrong today, or why
we shouldn't be given to the drinking of any alcoholic beverages of any
Clearly, God's word shows that "drinking parties" are not to be engaged
in. So even if we would drink just one beer or one glass of wine
at a "drinking party," could we really say that we didn't participate
In addition, the New English Bible translates "potos" in this verse as
"tippling," which is defined as "to drink liquor, esp. to
excess." Again, we see the "esp. to excess," which would also
imply that it doesn't have to necessarily be that to be called
"tippling." The American College Dictionary defines "tippling" as
"1. to drink (intoxicating liquor), esp. repeatedly, in small
quantities. 2. To drink intoxicating liquor, esp. habitually or
to some excess." And Webster's Dictionary of the English Language
shows "tippling" to mean, "To drink spirituous or intoxicating liquors
habitually; to drink frequently, but without getting drunk. To
drink, sip, or imbibe often." So in considering these
definitions, "tippling" doesn't have to involve drinking to an excess
or to the point of intoxication.
As we think more about this, how do folks today often try to justify
social drinking for our time, or assert that it is okay to drink
alcohol just as long as you don't get drunk? Some cite John 2 in
which Jesus miraculously turned the water into wine. But in doing
that they are assuming that the wine the Lord made had an alcoholic
content. Would Jesus, however, make a wine that would make people
drunk? Wouldn't it be more reasonable to view the wine as being
unfermented -- like freshly made grape juice? In this miraculous
account in John 2, we read about the governor of the feast. He
actually had the responsibility of tasting the wine to make sure it was
properly mixed. According to the International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia, when fermented wine was made in those days, it was often
greatly diluted: "The proportion of water was large, only one-third or
one-fourth of the total mixture being wine." Another way of
saying this is that 2 to 3 parts water would be added to just 1 part of
wine. And that wine was only about 3% of an alcoholic content
when starting out. So if one had 10 ounces of wine, 20 to
30 ounces of water would be added to it -- which would make it
considerably weaker. But, again, why should we think there was
any alcoholic properties in the wine Jesus made? Though He had
the power to make a wine in just an instant that could be as if it had
been fermented for months, why should we assume He did that?
Another argument some people make today is that "Paul told Timothy to
drink wine." But why did Paul tell him that? This is
answered in 1 Timothy 5:23: "No longer drink water exclusively, but use
a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent
ailments." The wine, therefore, was for medicinal purposes.
Another point we can infer from this is that Timothy must have been a
total abstainer from wine, for Paul had to instruct him to use a
"little" of it. And make note of that adjective "little."
Today, however, we have better medicines for stomach problems and
Still others who try to justify social drinking might cite Romans
14:21, and say that as long as it doesn't offend a brother, it is then
okay to drink. The verse states, "It is good not to eat meat or
to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles."
Rather then one strengthening his argument for social drinking today,
this passage actually weakens it. For if wine in those days,
which was much weaker than our wines today, would be causing some to
stumble spiritually, then how much more would our wines today? As
mentioned, wine, which began at about 3% alcohol, was then greatly
diluted with 2 to 3 parts water. Our wines today, however, can be
anywhere from 10% to 14% alcohol; and if fortified, 20% alcohol.
Even beer today, which can be from 4% to 6% alcohol, is a much
higher alcoholic content than these water-downed wines of long ago.
We can also add that though some people might feel that as long as they
abstain from the "hard stuff," they'd be doing okay, that a 10-ounce
glass of beer (at 4.5% alcohol), a 2.5-ounce glass of wine (at 20%
alcohol), and a shot glass of whiskey would actually be all the same in
the amount of alcohol consumed.
Something else to consider with regard to social drinking or even being
one who drinks alone occasionally is the type of influence that would
have on others. Paul instructs in 1 Corinthians 10:32, "Give no
offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God." There is
such a stigma attached to alcohol in our nation, due to all the
terrible things it has caused (See the statistics in last week's
Gospel Observer); and as Christians, we should not want to allow that
to mar our own name or bring disgrace or discredit upon the church.
Rather, we are to live above reproach. Therefore, how do
you think that other Christians would feel about a Christian given to
social drinking -- or even just drinking to some degree in the privacy
of his home? And with America having the highest known rate for
alcoholism, how do you think that even some non-Christians would view a
Christian who would do so? When we hear about people at the
office getting together for a celebration with a drink or two, do we
normally view that as being an innocent activity and something we can
approve and participate in with drinks of our own?
We need to also remember that even if it were all right to social
drink, which I don't believe it would be, one could still become guilty
by doing that which he believed to be wrong. This is seen in
Romans 14:23: "But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his
eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin."
The "faith" here refers to one's conscience, one's personal
conviction. And, again, we are not saying that social drinking is
okay as long as it doesn't bother your conscience; for it would be
wrong regardless. But for sake of argument, we are saying that
even if it were okay, it would not be okay for the person who believed
it to be wrong. So, could you drink a beer or a glass of wine or
have a shot of whiskey and then stand before God in the judgment day
without any doubt that you should not have taken that drink?
In reflecting more on one's influence, what if by social drinking it
would encourage other brethren to do so? Now, it would not
merely be one person guilty of it; but others as well, through that
person's influence. Matthew 18:6,7 is certainly applicable here:
"but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to
stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung
around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the
world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that
stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling
Have you ever wondered why people drink? If they say it is not to
get drunk, then why else? Would it not be for the delightful
effect it can have? Beer contains lupulin, a chemical that is
closely related to the narcotic substance in marijuana. If I can
drink beer to obtain this effect, would I be able to smoke marijuana if
they legalized it? In other words, is the only thing keeping us
back from it the law of the land? Of course not. For just
because the law of the land considers something to be acceptable,
doesn't mean that it is also acceptable in God's sight -- and His law
is the higher law that we must subject ourselves to.
Of course, some people drink because they are psychologically and/or
physically addicted to it. For alcoholic drinks contain ethyl
alcohol which is a habit forming, narcotic drug, poisonous and harmful
to every form of life. In thinking more of the dangers of
alcohol, did you know that it takes only 2 beers to hinder a person's
braking ability from 20 to 60 feet, depending on the speed of the
car? No wonder we hear that 50% of all fatal wrecks on the
highway, involving two or more cars, are alcohol related; and 65% of
all fatal highway crashes involving just one vehicle are also alcohol
related -- and these percentages don't even include the non-fatal
accidents caused by alcohol. No wonder we hear that
alcohol-impaired drivers are costing American taxpayers about $21 to
$24 billion per year. Plus, highway accidents are just one of the
ways in which alcohol-impairment has manifest its dangerous
nature. For as we also saw in last week's bulletin, 40% of all
suicide attempts, 54% of all violent crimes, 60% of all emergency room
admissions, and 80% of all domestic disputes are said to be alcohol
related. The cost of alcohol abuse in America has been estimated
to be about $136 billion annually.
No wonder giving oneself to alcohol has been likened to a game of
Russian Roulette: For one out of every 15 social drinkers becomes an
alcoholic, and 10% of all alcoholics become that way from their first
drink. These, as well as various other reasons, show why one is
taking such a great risk by giving himself to alcohol
consumption. So, to never take that first drink truly is wise
advice for everyone to live by. For it is not only something to
live by, but also that which has enabled many who live by it to even
live longer -- and with a better quality life. Though the
advertizers often portray successful, good-looking people enjoying a
great life while drinking their alcoholic beverages, this isn't always
the case in real life. Many lives have very much been ruined by
it. It has sometimes led to loss of work, a breakdown of the
family, loss of wealth -- or even poverty, loss of health (physical and
mental), as well as other regrettable losses.
So these are some of the reasons why we, as Christians, should be total
abstainers from alcoholic beverages -- and be that way for ourselves;
for others; and above all, for God. Rather than being like the
man who made a very sad and unwise choice of rejecting Jesus Christ --
rather than giving up the bottle.
The last thing Peter mentions in 1 Peter 4:3 that should not be
something the Christian is given over to is "abominable
idolatries." As pointed out a while back, Peter is writing
primarily to the Gentiles; and this passage also verifies that.
For the Jews, after coming out of Babylonian captivity, finally learned
their lesson to not resort to idolatry, as a nation. Many of the
Gentiles, however, were steeped in that, as we can see throughout the
Scriptures, such as when Paul came to Athens in Acts 17; or in Ephesus,
where the people worshiped the goddess "Diana," also known as "Artemis"
in Acts 19.
Peter refers to these idolatries as being "abominable," which is from
the Greek word "athemitos" and defined by Thayer as "contrary to law
and justice, prohibited by law, illicit, criminal." It is
actually translated as "unlawful" in Acts 10:28.
The Greek word for "idolatries" is "eidololatria" and defined by Strong
as "image worship (literally or figuratively)...." Thayer defines
it as "1) the worship of false gods, idolatry 1a) of the formal
sacrificial feasts held in honor of false gods 1b) of avarice, as a
worship of Mammon 2) in the plural, the vices springing from
idolatry and peculiar to it."
Other Bible translations render the phrase "abominable idolatries" as
"unlawful idolatries," "unclean worship of images," "worshiped
disgusting idols," "unhallowed idolatries," "unlawful worshiping of
idols," "lawless idolatry," "detestable idolatry," and "unholy
We noted in Thayer's definition that when this word is in the plural,
as it is in 1 Peter 4:3, it is then focusing on "the vices springing
from idolatry and peculiar to it." Idolatry had an effect on the
lives of many of the Corinthians, prior to their conversion. As
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:2, "You know that when you were pagans,
you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led."
Going back again to that list of sins in Galatians 5:19-21 that will
keep one out of the kingdom of God, we find "idolatry" mentioned with
them in verse 20. We are reminded, too, of the first two of the
Ten Commandments: "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exo.
20:3). And the second: "You shall not make for yourself an idol,
or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or
in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve
them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God..." (Exo.
Paul commended the Thessalonians for having "turned to God from idols
to serve a living and true God" (1 Thess. 1:9). That is also a
good example of Bible repentance. For it not only involves
turning from the wrong, but also turning to the Lord.
Idolatry would certainly be one of the "unclean" things that the Lord's
people are not to be involved in, according to 2 Corinthians 6:16 to
Thayer had shown that the Greek word for idolatry can also involve
"avarice." This we see in Colossians 3:5: "Therefore consider the
members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion,
evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry." (See also Ephesians
We can close this section with what Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:14,
"Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry."
In this lesson, we noticed (in 1 Peter 4:3) three more sins that the
Christian is to abstain from: carousing, drinking parties, and
abominable idolatries. The "drunkenness," from the previous
week's lesson, and the "carousing" and "drinking parties" in today's,
set forth three levels of drinking alcohol. For these terms can
also mean intoxicated, half-drunk, and not drunk at all,
respectively. Therefore, in consuming alcohol even when
drunkenness doesn't occur, there are still other factors to consider,
which would make it wrong; such as the influence that drinking alcohol
would have on others; whether it would make us guilty in conscience to
do so, even if it were all right (which I don't believe would be); the
addictive properties of it, and the various other dangers of it.
We also noted that idolatry today is not limited to the worship of
heathen gods or the representations of them, but even greed or
covetousness is also a form of it. For an ungodly covetousness is
aiming one's desire toward something else rather than the true and the
living God -- and exalting that above the Lord.
News & Notes
Melba Reed of the South
College Drive church of Christ in Lafayette, Louisiana, recently passed
away. She was a kind and gentle lady. Let those of us who
are Christians be remembering her family and friends in prayer.
Let us also continue to remember Agnes
Shuff, who has been on hospice care for over a year; Pam MacDonald who recently had neck
surgery; and Cheryl Anderson
who had surgery on her knee.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ
(Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/go (Gospel Observer website)
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