14 Beliefs About the Bible That Aren’t Actually There

SharePinEmailThe Bible is one of the most misquoted books in history. Over time, many sayings have been attributed to the Bible that actually aren’t found within its pages. Here, we examine some of these common misconceptions and their origins, in an effort to shed light on what it really says. God Helps Those Who Help…

The Bible is one of the most misquoted books in history. Over time, many sayings have been attributed to the Bible that actually aren’t found within its pages. Here, we examine some of these common misconceptions and their origins, in an effort to shed light on what it really says.

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves

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A popular proverb, often thought to be from scripture, is “God helps those who help themselves.” This phrase originates from Aesop’s fables, specifically from a tale where Hercules advises a man to put his own shoulder to the wheel rather than rely on divine intervention. The Bible, in contrast, emphasizes reliance on God rather than self-sufficiency (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness

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“Cleanliness is next to Godliness” might remind you of your grandmother, but it’s not from the Bible. While scripture has a lot to say about cleanliness in a spiritual sense, this specific saying comes from a sermon by John Wesley, a founder of Methodism. Wesley’s message was about inner purity rather than physical cleanliness.

Money Is the Root of All Evil

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“Money is the root of all evil” is a common misquote. The actual verse is “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). This changes the meaning radically, and suggests that it’s the obsession with wealth, not money itself, that leads to wrongdoing.

This Too Shall Pass

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Often used to comfort those going through tough times, “This too shall pass” isn’t found in either the Old or New Testament. Its origins are likely from Persian poetry. The Bible does speak to the transient nature of life and troubles, but not in these exact words (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner

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“Hate the sin, love the sinner,” while aligning with biblical themes of compassion and righteousness, isn’t a direct quote from the Bible. It’s frequently attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. The Bible does call for loving others while rejecting sin, but it never phrases it this way.

The Lion Shall Lay Down with the Lamb

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“The lion shall lay down with the lamb” is a conflation of two separate verses from Isaiah that describe the wolf living with the lamb and the leopard lying down with the goat (Isaiah 11:6, Isaiah 65:25).

God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle

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Many believe the phrase “God will never give you more than you can handle” is biblical, but it’s a misinterpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13, which discusses temptation and God’s faithfulness in providing a way out, but doesn’t promise that life’s burdens will always be bearable on our own.

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

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While the Bible does discuss discipline, see Proverbs 13:24, it never uses the phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child.” The actual scripture celebrates the importance of loving and guiding children rather than simply enforcing punishment.

The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways

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Originating from a hymn by William Cowper, “the Lord works in mysterious ways” is widely used to explain unexplainable events but isn’t a biblical quote. Scripture does acknowledge God’s incomprehensible ways (Romans 11:33), but not in these particular words.

God Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life

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“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you” is a paraphrase of biblical themes about God’s love and plans (Jeremiah 29:11) that’s become a staple in evangelical circles, and is often interpreted as a promise of an easy life, which isn’t the biblical message.

The Eye Is the Window to the Soul

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“The eye is the window to the soul”: a beautiful sentiment, just not from the Bible. This saying is a reworking of a verse about the eye being the lamp of the body (Matthew 6:22-23), which is a metaphor for spiritual perception rather than the soul.

Moderation in All Things

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Although scripture does advocate for self-control and wisdom, “moderation in all things” is lifted from Greek philosophy.

Pride Comes Before a Fall

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“Pride comes before a fall” is a simplification of Proverbs 16:18, which says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” The biblical version reinforces the dangers of pride more strongly.

Help Yourself and Heaven Will Help You

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There is no biblical basis for the saying “Help yourself and Heaven will help you.” It’s more aligned with self-help philosophy than any scriptural doctrine, which calls for reliance on God rather than self-sufficiency.

Understanding these misquotes and misconceptions can deepen our appreciation for what the Bible teaches. It’s a reminder to approach scripture with caution and care, and to engage with scripture directly rather than rely on popular sayings.

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