12 of 19 “Biblical Sayings” That Are Not Biblical
UPDATE: I left out another highly regarded “Biblical” quote.
19. “God loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life.”
No, absolutely not! The Bible nowhere promises this to the unbelieving person you meet on the street. Not even to God’s people in this life. This is derived from a popular verse, quoted way out of context, “For I know the plans I have for you… to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11). Rather, this verse was a promise of restoration to Israelites in exile in Babylon 2,500 years ago. It is not a promise of health and wealth to Christians today. And on the contrary, Jesus and the apostles assure believers of sufferings and tribulations in this life. God’s wonderful plan for believers’ life will unfold only when Christ returns.
You might think that all of the quotes below are from the Bible. Think again. Are these in the Bible? (All Biblical quotations are from the English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.)
1. “This, too, shall pass.”
No. No one really knows the origin of this saying, but this is a popular word of comfort for those who are suffering. But the Bible has much better words of comfort for Christians who are suffering, including Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” and 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
2. “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.”
Yes. Otherwise known as the Golden Rule, Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 7:12.
3. “For everything there is a season.”
Yes. A much-beloved saying from Ecclesiastes 3:1. The second clause says, “and a time for every matter under heaven.”
4. “Everything is beautiful in its own way.”
No. This one comes close to Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” This saying was popularized in a song by Ray Stevens in 1970. But the song has a universalistic theme, so that the song, “Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World” is used for the chorus, that love “lives within” everyone, that we should “just take a little time to the calm good side” of everyone, and that “everything is gonna work out fine.” Although God made everything “very good” (Gen 1:31), all this very good creation was corrupted by Adam’s fall into sin (Rom 5:12).
5. “So when the woman saw that the apple was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the apple was to be desired to make one wise, she took the apple and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
No. This is the American Culture Version of Genesis 3:6. The Scripture does not say what kind of fruit it was that Adam and Eve picked.
6. “God helps those who help themselves.”
No. This is attributed to Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1736. This is also similar to the medieval formula, “To those who do what lies within them God denies not grace” (Latin “facientibus quod in se est, Deus non denegat gratiam”). This is also the Roman teaching of synergistic salvation that God infuses good works to those who do their best.
7. “God works in mysterious ways.”
No. Only partly true, since God has hidden some of his ways, but has revealed what he wills in the Bible (Deu 29:29). This may have come from William Cowper’s hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”
8. Joshua and the Israelites walked around Jericho 13 times before the walls fell down.
Yes, not just seven times. They marched once around for six days, and then seven times around on the seventh day (Jos 6:1-4). This recalls the six-day creation and seventh-day rest in Genesis 1.
9. “Whosoever will may come.”
No. Revelation 22:17 actually says, “And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (KJV). This was made popular by the hymn “Whosoever Will” by Philip Bliss. There is nothing about “free will” in this hymn, but it has come to mean that all men are able to come to God of their own will. This verse only means that God’s free gift of salvation is offered to all who would repent and believe.
10. “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
No. This was quoted by John Wesley in one of his sermons in 1791. Some have attributed Wesley’s quote to Phinehas ben Yair, a Jewish rabbi in the second century A.D.
11. “What goes around comes around.”
No. The closest Bible verse is “whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal 6:7). This is a reminder to Christians not to envy or be bothered by the wicked when they prosper (Psa 73:3), because as Paul says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19).
12. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.”
Yes. This was quoted by Jesus in Matthew 5:38 from Exodus 21:24. Punishment must be commensurate and appropriate for different offenses.
13. “Money is the root of all evil.”
No. Money itself is not evil, but “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils” (1 Tim 6:10).
14. “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.”
Yes. This was Jesus’ rebuke of Peter after Peter cut off the ear of one of the soldiers arresting Jesus (Mat 26:52). In God’s post-flood covenant with Noah, he warned, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen 9:6).
15. “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
Yes. Luke 18:13, from the Parable of the contrite and repentant tax collector and the self-righteous Pharisee. Jesus said that because of his true repentance, the tax collector was justified by God.
16. “Accept Jesus into your heart.”
No. This pure nonsense is not in the Bible, and makes no mention of faith and repentance. Worse, the person who is instructed to say this will have false assurance, thinking that he is saved when he is actually not.
17. “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, three kings from the east came to Jerusalem.”
No. The Bible makes no mention of kings, and or three kings, but of wise men (Mat 2:1). They did not even have names.
18. “God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.”
No. Another pure nonsense, arising out of the popular belief that “God loves everyone.” God hates all unrepentant evildoers (Psa 5:5), and “hates the wicked and the one who loves violence” (Psa 11:5). His hate for them will be such that he will “rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup” (Psa 11:6). This is a description of his wrath being poured out on them in hell (Rev 14:10). He doesn’t send sin to hell; he sends people!
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