Does well drunk mean a guy who is alcoholically intoxicated?

And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

Most English translation of John 2:10 say that people have drunk adequately, have well drunk, have had too much to drink and so on.

However, on SE Biblical Hermeneutics some users suggest that the real meaning is intoxicated by alcohol.

Neither English, nor Greek is my native language, so I have a hard time understanding why the Bible translations do not translate that correctly. One possible explanation could be that have drunk adequately; have well drunk, and have too much to drink mean ‘intoxicated’. It is unlikely.

But I would like to ask English Stack Exchange to make sure.

  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the meaning of the English phrase "well drunk" (found in the KJV) is ambiguous, and appealing to commentaries leads to differing opinions; appealing to the Greek text is rather off-topic and anyway only leads to more differences of opinions. In short, the question does not have an answer; it is largely opinion-based, but I didnt click that reason to close, because I thought an explanation was worthwhile to put here. Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 5:31

1 Answer 1


This is some great commentary on understanding this verse:

The meaning is obvious enough, and there is no need to search in ancient wit for the original of a speech which is not too recondite to have been originated on this occasion. The best wine is appropriately given when the seneca are keenest, but when the climax of the festival has come, when they have drunk too deeply, or are intoxicated, then the weaker, poorer, and less fragrant wine is acceptable.

So yes, in John 2:10 where it states:

when men have well drunk

this is referring to being intoxicated. It is translated this way because of the word methyō used in the original Greek, translates in English to have well drunk or drink well.

In the context that this Greek word is being used it is appropriate to use this English translation instead of simply "drunken." This may be due to the lightheartedness of the verse.

As stated in the above commentary link:

it is a jocular statement of his own experience at feasts.

  • 4
    Probably the "greatest" part of this commentary is the phrase "when the seneca are keenest." A little noodling around with google books reveals that the original is "when the senses are keenest, but the error (I'm guessing from OCR transcription) is copied around the intertubes and quoted solemnly.
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 7:38
  • So have well drunk and drink well does mean intoxicated.
    – user4234
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 3:43
  • There are 2 commentaries. One said it means drunken. The other said it doesn't necessarily means drunken. Which one is right?
    – user4234
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 3:49

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