Is that in the Bible?

Posted by on 02/07/2017 in:

When I was youth pastor, at least once a year I would open up my Bible and tell the students to turn to the book of Hezekiah. After 30 seconds of pages flapping and Bible app searching I would then reveal that there is no such book (although you can find King Hezekiah in 2 Kings). While it’s true that social media has fed our desire for bite sized quotes and Bible verses our proclivity for out of context bites of wisdom predates Twitter.

Here are four of the most common quotes attributed to scripture that aren’t actually in the Bible. There’s a good chance you’ll recognize one or all of them. 

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
If your Mom ever used this to convince 8 year old you that God wanted you to take to take a bath, it probably worked. This idiom had been circulating since the 1500’s but reportedly made it’s way into Christendom in the 1700’s via a sermon by the founder of Methodism, John Wesley.

“God helps those who help themselves.”
This quote may pluck at the part of us that values hard work but it is nowhere to be found in scripture. While similar ideas have circulated for centuries the earliest attribution of this quote is to Algernon Sidney in his Discources Concerning Government (link). It seemed to gain greater traction when Benjamin Franklin included it in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1736.

“Spare the rod spoil the child.”
If only eight year old you knew this wasn’t in the Bible! While Proverbs 13:24 seems to have a similar principle, this is an English Proverb, not a Biblical one.

“This too shall pass.”
This phrase has been used to help change perspective in times of difficulty. While it is not in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:17 captures a similar but far richer truth.

Have any others to add? Leave them in the comments below.

3 Comments

  • JHH says:

    God works in mysterious ways is a good one!

  • Anna says:

    I was straightened out on “god helps those who help themselves”. It comes out of the new age/self help movements. It’s such a thin line, lies mixed with truths. If you’re truly seeking the Lord it should be “God helps those who turn to Him.” Dave Hunt among others did a wonderful job of sorting out the self oriented vs. God oriented.

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