18 Misquoted Bible Passages and What They Really Mean

SharePinEmailThe Bible is often misquoted and misinterpreted. There are quotes which people are certain originate from scripture. This leads to the word of God being used for self-serving purposes, deviating from the true intentions of the Bible. Here are 18 misquoted Bible passages and their true meanings. “Money is the root of all evil” (1…

The Bible is often misquoted and misinterpreted. There are quotes which people are certain originate from scripture. This leads to the word of God being used for self-serving purposes, deviating from the true intentions of the Bible. Here are 18 misquoted Bible passages and their true meanings.

“Money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10)

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“Money is the root of all evil” is one of the most frequent misquotes from the Bible. The actual quote refers to the love of money, not money itself. A monetary system is not inherently evil; coveting and finding joy in money creates evil intentions. 

“God will not give you more than you can handle” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

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Corinthians 10:13 doesn’t refer to suffering but to temptation; life will throw temptations in the way, and the individual must fight those temptations. God will always provide a way to avoid these temptations, and as God is the source of all good, he doesn’t want you to suffer. 

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” (Proverbs 13:24)

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“Sparing the rod, spoil the child” is a misquote that is confused with a 17th-century poem by Samuel Butler. The actual line from Proverbs doesn’t promote physical punishment and probably comes from a misinterpretation of ‘rod.’ Rod means guidance, and if you don’t provide this to a child, it will corrupt them. 

“Pride comes before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18)

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“Pride comes before a fall” is in common usage, but its meaning is different from the intention of the verse in Proverbs; It refers to arrogance rather than pride. Those who are arrogant will fall if they do not find humility. 

“Cleanliness is next to godliness” (Not in the Bible)

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The Bible doesn’t say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” The phrase’s origin is disputed but is thought to have come from a sermon by a 17th-century preacher. However, the Bible does emphasize the need for inner purity and moral cleanliness to get closer to God. 

“God helps those who help themselves” (Not in the Bible)

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“God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible, and its origin is unknown. As with many verses attributed to the Bible, it is probably for self-serving purposes. Helping others is promoted throughout the Bible, and self-development involves doing good for others to achieve development.  

“The lion shall lie down with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6)

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Isaiah 11:6 promotes peace, and it is the wolf that lies with the lamb. The misquote is a paraphrase prophesying a future utopia; Jesus is both the lamb and the lion. The full quote is, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together, and a little child shall lead them.”

“Judge not, lest ye be judged” (Matthew 7:1-2)

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The verse on judgment from the Book of Matthew is a popular saying, but its interpretation is wrong. The Bible doesn’t say you can’t judge others; rather, judging others requires self-reflection to avoid hypocrisy.

“This too shall pass” (Not in the Bible)

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“This too shall pass” doesn’t come from the Bible, despite its well-meaning sentiment. The closest scripture to it is in Matthew 24, where it says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” The origins of the misquote are unknown, but its similarity to the Bible language is probably the reason. 

“To thine own self be true” (Not in the Bible)

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The origin of “To thine own self be true” is Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. Christians don’t like the sentiment behind the words, as it is arrogant. 

“The Lord works in mysterious ways” (Not in the Bible)

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The closest verse to implying God is mysterious is in the Book of Isaiah; God is higher than humans, but it doesn’t explicitly use the word mysterious. 

“The eyes are the windows to the soul” (Matthew 6:22-23)

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“The eyes are the windows to the soul” is a misquote that gives people license to judge others just by looking into their eyes. The actual quote refers to the self and not other people; eyes are a metaphorical lamp, and perceptual experiences shape a person.

“Hate the sin, love the sinner” (Not in the Bible)

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“Hate the sin, love the sinner” originates from a letter sent by St Augustine. God teaches us to love everyone, regardless of their sins. Misquotes and falsely attributing quotes to the Bible lead to hatred, and this one is manipulated to promote hatred towards groups who don’t align with Christian values. 

“Moderation in all things” (Not in the Bible)

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The Bible does encourage self-control and moderation in all things, but no verse explicitly says “moderation in all things.” The origin of the quote is likely from the Greek poet Hesiod.

“The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32)

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Freedom as a modern concept is different from the idea of biblical freedom. When preaching to the Jews, it was in the context of freedom to choose and freedom to examine one’s self. It doesn’t mean the freedom to do as a person pleases. 

“The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away” (Job 1:21)

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In the Book of Job, Job refers to himself when he speaks of God giving life and taking it away. This quote is not to be taken in a general sense but in the context of Job’s struggles with loss. 

“Be in the world, but not of the world” (John 17:14-15)

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“Be in the world, but not of the world” is a misquote from the book of John. John says, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” The verse means Christians are in the world, but John is asking God to protect them from the evils and corruption of humanity.

“All things work together for good” (Romans 8:28)

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A verse from the book of Romans doesn’t mean that humanity is working together for a greater good, but that God is sovereign and He works towards this good for the sake of man.

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