Question:I really appreciated your "New Testament Beverages." However, how does one answer the question relating to deacons must not be given to much wine? This seems to allow for a casual drink. If this was merely grape juice, should we not ask prospective deacons how much grape juice they drink?
"Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience" (I Timothy 3:8-9).
There is no claim in the article, "New Testament Beverages," that all occurrences of oinos refers to grape juice. The point is that each use must be examined in context because oinos is a broad term referring to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic products of grapes.
The phrase in Greek is me (not) oino (wine) pollo (much) prosechontas (being given). The problem in understanding this phrase is that English is a bit loose in meaning. You seem to be reading this as if it is saying, "not given to too much wine." In the original Greek it is "not given to much wine," that is, not given to using large quantities of wine. (i.e. not a drunkard.) The "much" modifies "wine" in the Greek.
Regarding this phrase, Albert Barnes notes, "It is not affirmed that it would be proper for the deacon, any more than the bishop, to indulge in the use of wine in small quantities, but it is affirmed that a man who is much given to the use of wine, ought not, on any consideration, to be a deacon." In other words, what he is saying is that a prohibition against using large quantities or frequent consumption of wine by a man considered for a deacon cannot necessarily be reversed to imply approval for small quantities or infrequent consumption. The reason is simple, there are times when small quantities of alcohol does have appropriate use, such as in medicine. If the prohibition was against all use of alcohol, then deacons could never take any alcohol-based medicine.
What you wish to assume is that casual drinking is also an appropriate use. This verse cannot prove that casual drinking is an acceptable use. You would need to prove it in another manner, which I don't think is possible from the New Testament.