Jesus' drink of vinegar


Matthew 27:34

There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.


Matthew 27:47-50

When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."

Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him."

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.


Mark 15:23

Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.

Mark 15:35-37

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, "Listen, he's calling Elijah."

One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down," he said.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.


John 19:28-30

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Did Jesus drink the wine or not?

Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23 are referring to a separate event from the other passages (this is evident from the fact that both Matthew and Mark describe Jesus refusing the blended wine at the start of his crucifixion, but later accepting wine vinegar from a sponge and stick). In that instance, Jesus tasted the wine but didn't drink it (i.e. he took a sip but not a mouthful).

Concerning the latter offer of wine vinegar, Matthew and Mark don't explicitly state that Jesus drank the vinegar, but that doesn't mean that he didn't. We sometimes use "offered" to imply both an offer and its acceptance in everyday conversation. Someone might say, "Joe came by and I offered him a drink, and we talked for a while," meaning that Joe accepted the drink. Also, some translations (NASB, RSV) use "gave" instead of "offered."


Who said to leave Jesus alone and wait for Elijah: the crowd, or the man offering the vinegar?

Both the crowd and the man could have said it. One possible scenario is that the man gave Jesus vinegar to drink, then said to the crowd, "Okay, now let's leave him alone and see if Elijah comes," and the crowd agreed with him and said, "Yes, let's do that." Another possibility is that someone in the crowd suggested it first, and the man offering the vinegar agreed and addressed his agreement to the whole crowd.


Did Jesus ask for the vinegar, or did the man decide to offer it after hearing him call Elijah?

Again, Matthew and Mark don't record Jesus' question, but that doesn't mean that Jesus couldn't have asked for a drink. Combining the three accounts gives us this sequence of events:

  1. Jesus called out to God
  2. The crowd said, "He's calling Elijah"
  3. Jesus said, "I am thirsty."
  4. Someone in the crowd ran and got the drink of vinegar, and offered it to Jesus
  5. Jesus drank the vinegar
  6. Jesus said, "It is finished," and died


Was the first wine mixed with gall or myrrh?

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