The Bible is considered to be a book full of spiritual wisdom and insight to help individuals navigate their lives as they strive to follow God. However, as full of counsel as the Bible is, there are a number of popular proverbs and familiar sayings that are not recorded in the Bible, but that are commonly thought to originate there. Because Biblical ignorance is a pervasive problem, according to religion scholars, these sayings are often not challenged but are simply taken as Biblical truth. Read on to find out which "Biblical" phrases actually aren't Biblical at all.
This passage, based on a letter from the Apostle Paul to a young pastor named Timothy is found in 1 Timothy 6:10 which says, "The LOVE of money is the root of all evil." Without the word "love," the verse takes on a completely different meaning and gives the impression that money in and of itself is evil.
This particular phrase is not found anywhere in the Bible, although it is often misquoted as being a Bible verse. There are several ideas about where this saying grew from, one being a hymn written by William Cowper in the 19th century that says, "God moves in a mysterious ways; His wonders to perform; He plans His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm." There are several verses that may seem to allude to this idea as well, including Romans 11:33: "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (KJV)
The Seven Deadly Sins is a categorical list of sins that, according to popular myth, lead to death. They are gluttony, greed, sloth, lust, vanity, envy and wrath. History shows that this list was compiled by theologians and used in various commentaries over the centuries. Proverbs 6:16-19 says, "These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren." Although this verse may have been the inspiration for the "Seven Deadly Sins" list, nowhere does the Bible say these are "deadly."
This "verse" did not originate in the Bible but has been repeated often by various speakers and writers throughout the centuries, like Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanac of 1757. The Bible, in fact, speaks often about how much God helps humankind. However, there are instances in the Bible that point the necessity for people to take action on their own behalf in tandem with God's work. For example, Romans 5:6, 8; Proverbs 28:26 and Jeremiah 17:5.
The Bible never specifically addresses cleanliness being "next to godliness", meaning that being clean is a form of godly behavior. The proverb is popularly credited to John Wesley's 1778 sermon, “Cleanliness is indeed next to godliness” as well as to writings in the Jewish holy scripts the Talmud. It is not, however, found in the Bible.
Proverbs 13:24 says, "The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son." Verses like this one are probably the inspiration for the proverb that people often misquote as being Biblical. Proverbs 22:15 says, "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him." Although similar in concept, the actual phrase "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is not Biblical.
"Pride goeth before a fall" is a saying that is similar to the original Bible verse, found in Proverbs 16:18, but it does not accurately reflect the original text. In fact, the verse says, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." This shows that destruction is the end result of pride, according to the Bible.
Nowhere in the Bible is the number of wise men, kings or Magi, as they are also called, who visited Jesus after his birth recorded.
People often use this phrase when working through difficult circumstances in life, and give credit to the Bible; however it is not found there. There is not one definitive answer for the origin of this popular saying, but a common belief is that it stems from a fable written by Persian Sufi poets. Others credit it to Jewish folklore, saying it originated with King Solomon, although it is not recorded in the Bible.