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Everyday Phrases That You Use That You Won’t Believe Are Not Biblical

The Corona pandemic is working for good for the body of Christ. I have seen it in the Bible and it will be repeated again in our generation

The Bible can be considered as the most influential book ever written The bible has contributed everyday phrases to the English language such as a drop in the bucket, a scapegoat, etc. However, there are some phrases that sound biblical but are not. Here are some phrases that are wrongly attributed to the bible and their possible origins from history.

Hercules statue

Image by Security from Pixabay

Image by Security from Pixabay

God helps those who help themselves

"God helps those who help themselves". 13% Of Americans believe that this statement best describes the main message of the Bible"

— 2015 State Of The Bible report. American Bible Society

God helps those who help themselves

Another Barna 2017 study found that 52 percent of practicing Christians strongly agree that the Bible teaches it. The origins of this phrase are mixed. Benjamin Franklin quoted it in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1757 as follows …let us hearken to good advice, and something may be done for us. “God helps them that help themselves,” as Poor Richard says, in his almanac of 1733. Algernon Sydney a political theorist, in 1698 in an article titled Discourses Concerning Government quoted the same … and by him if with industry and courage they make use of the means he has given them for their own defense. God helps those who help themselves: and men are by several reasons. Variation of the same phrase can be found in one of Aesop’s fables titled Hercules and the Waggoner where a man’s wagon gets stuck in the mud. He got down on his knees and prayed to Hercules the Strong. But Hercules appeared to him and said: “Tut, man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. “The gods help them that help themselves.” The bible teaches the exact opposite, one reference Psalms 121:1-2 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help. My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth

More than one-third of adults believe the statement “God works in mysterious ways” is found in the Bible (36%). Non-practicing Christians are more likely than average to believe this statement can be found in the Bible.

— 2015 State Of The Bible report. American Bible Society

God works in mysterious ways

The idea seems to have originated from Isaiah 55:8-9. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The misquote is probably from a hymn written in 1774 by poet William Cowper.
While the bible seems to mention it, there is one verse that can refute this phrase. Psalms 103:7. “He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.”

Spare the rod, spoil the child

The phrase is not in the Bible. That phrase actually comes from a poem written between 1660 and 1680 titled "Hudibras" by Samuel Butler Part II Canto I.

This phrase is an alteration of an actual bible verse (Proverbs 13:24).”He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” The poem was popular for more than a century and that can account for how it came to be thought as part of the bible.

The three wise men

Image by Sergio Biron Burgardt from Pixabay

Image by Sergio Biron Burgardt from Pixabay

Three wise men

Always depicted in a popular Christmas pageant tradition. The bible does not use the term “three kings” to describe the travelers who visited Jesus after his birth (Mathew 2:1-12). And has been popularized by the Christmas hymn "We Three Kings of Orient Are" or "The Quest of the Magi", written by John Henry Hopkins Jr. in 1857. The phrase three kings appears in the first verse of the hymn.

The Bible does not state their numbers at three, this assumption was most likely based on the three gifts of ‘gold, frankincense, and myrrh’ (Matthew 2:11) presented to the baby Jesus.

Pride comes before a fall

This is a rewriting of Proverbs 16:18: Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall. People use this in everyday use as a warning not to be too arrogant or boastful. The earliest variation of this can be found in a book by American writer Caroline Frances Orne published 1844 titled Sweet Auburn and Mount Auburn: With Other Poems, The Specific poem is The Two Trees.

Cleanliness is next to godliness

This famous phrase was popularized in a sermon, "On Dress," delivered by John Wesley, one of the co-founders of the Methodist Church, “But, before we enter on the subject, let it be observed, that slovenliness is no part of religion; that neither this nor any text of Scripture, condemns neatness of apparel. Certainly, this is a duty, not a sin. “Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness.” However, from the bible outward cleanliness has no relation to godliness. Jesus taught that men are defiled by what is in their hearts and not by how often we wash our hands “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.” (Matthew 23:25-26).

Money love

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Money is the root of all evil

To me, this is the most misquoted verse of the Bible. 1 Timothy 6:10 that reads: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." The word "love of” has been omitted in everyday use and if you read the context of that verse, it addresses the state of the heart and the attitude that drives man’s actions.

The list is by no means comprehensive, what other phrase have you heard that should be added to this list?

© 2020 Victor Orare


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 15, 2020:

Quite a good, informative and interesting piece. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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