How many of the common sayings we hear are found in the Bible? If so, do you know where? If not, do you know where they come from? Here is a list of just a few – see if you know the answer.
I’m going to put the answer right after each of these sayings, so if you really want to challenge yourself, make sure you don’t scroll on down until you’ve answered for yourself whether or not these are in the Bible and if so, where.
Inherit the Wind
Perhaps you’ve read the play or seen one of the movies with this name about the famed Scopes Monkey Trial. Proverbs 11:29 is quoted in reference to strife between a father and his daughter, “He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart” (KJV).
The Wise Through Excess of Wisdom is Made a Fool
The Book of Proverbs is full of individual verses that contrast wisdom and foolishness, the wise one and the fool. We are told to acquire wisdom and understanding (Proverbs 4:-5-7). We know that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10) and the instruction for wisdom (Proverbs 15:33), and that the one who finds wisdom is blessed (Proverbs 3:13).
And while it is certainly logical that “even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise” (Proverbs 17:28), is this statement regarding the excess of wisdom making one foolish really true? I don’t know; you would have to ask Ralph Waldo Emerson. He is the one who said it, and it isn’t in the Bible.
A Drop in a Bucket
Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket,
And are counted as the small dust on the scales.
Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing.
(Isaiah 40:15 NKJV)
Shiver Me Timbers
Well blow me down, that was Popeye – and maybe a few pirates. Not from the Bible, though.
The Road Less Travelled
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
It’s not in the Bible; it’s the last few lines of the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken.” It’s also the name of a book by M. Scott Peck (I read that one in my college days). It’s about life, but it isn’t about the “straight and narrow.” By the way, that phrase isn’t in the Bible, either.
It is Better to Give than to Receive
This is a quote from Yeshua, though it does not appear in any of the Gospel accounts. Paul, in his final address to the elders at Ephesus, tells them that Yeshua made this statement. You can read the story in Acts chapter 20, with this quote given in Acts 20:35.
God Loves a Cheerful Giver
Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
“We have heard the joyful sound, Jesus Saves! Jesus Saves!” is the first line of a hymn from the late 1800s. The lyrics were composed by Priscilla Jane Owens, a Baltimore school teacher, in 1868. The music by William James Kirkpatrick was added in 1882.
An iconic pair of neon “Jesus Saves” signs was erected at The Church of the Open Door in Los Angeles in 1935. After that building was demolished, Dr. Gene Scott obtained both signs from a scrap yard and put them up at the former United Artists theater, which he called his University Cathedral. Dr. Scott died in 2005, and in 2011 his widow, Pastor Melissa Scott, moved one of the signs to her church in Glendale. The other sign remains at the United Artists theater, now the Ace Hotel.
This phrase does not appear in the Bible.
There are Five Solas (OK, that is Anglicised Latin, but hey, we do that all the time with Hebrew words) in the theology of the Protestant Reformation, largely targeted to refute the Roman Catholic Church. They are:
- Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)
- Sola Fide (Faith alone)
- Sola Gratia (Grace alone)
- Solus Christus (Christ alone)
- Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone)
As with most church doctrines, these were developed over time. Just as John Calvin never heard of the “Five Points of Calvinism,” Luther and the original reformers would not have known these as the Five Solae (more proper Latin!). The last two were probably not officially formulated until the 1800s. But two of them – Sola Fide and Sola Gratia – were a part of the reformation cry.
Of all of these five “alone” declarations, you might be surprised to learn that only one of them ever appears in the text of Scripture. All five of them are the result of deductive reasoning, heavily reliant on one’s interpretation of the sacred writings. There is only one instance of any of these actual words being found together, and that happens to be the one that I have mentioned here, faith alone, in Greek písteoos mónon – Strong’s numbers G4102 and G3440.
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone (James 2:24).
Let’s try a few hymns:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
In John’s apocalyptic vision, there are four living creatures surrounding the throne of God in Heaven: one like a lion, one like a calf, one like a man, and one like an eagle. He says “like” because they are quite different – each has six wings and a bunch of eyes.
And they do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8 NKJV).
So how about this line:
God in Three Persons, Blessed Trinity
Nope, not even close. How that developed is a long story.
There is Power in the Blood
It’s a great hymn, but this phrase isn’t in the Bible.
Rock of Ages
You probably didn’t read those words in any of the popular Christian translations used in churches today. However, in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 26:4 it says tzur olamim, or literally “rock of ages.” Young’s Literal Translation picks this up, as does The Amplified Bible. More importantly, all three of the popular Messianic Bibles properly render this verse. And so there is no question of who this Rock of Ages is, the Divine Name appears twice in the last part of the verse: Yah Yahweh tzur olamim.
Trust in ADONAI forever, because in Yah ADONAI, is a Rock of Ages (Isaiah 26:4 Complete Jewish Bible).
Trust in Adonai forever, for the LORD Adonai is a Rock of ages (Isaiah 26:4 Tree of Life Version).
Trust in יהוה forever, for in Yah, יהוה, is a rock of ages (Isaiah 26:4 The ISR Scriptures).
Revive Us Again
Will You not Yourself revive us again, That Your people may rejoice in You? (Psalm 85:6).
How about some prayers?
Hail, Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee
When the angel Gabriel meets the virgin Miriam (Mary) with the news that she is to become the mother of the Messiah, this is the greeting that he gives. The beginning of this part of the Rosary prayer for Roman Catholics is taken directly from Scripture, with the addition of the name “Mary,” obviously the one to whom Gabriel is speaking. I certainly AM NOT advocating that anyone should pray using a Rosary, or that this verse even has any place in a prayer. I just want you to know that it is all Scripture.
And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee (Luke 1:28 DRB).
Blessed Art Thou Among Women, and Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb, Jesus
After Gabriel leaves Miriam, she goes to visit her relative Elisheva (Elizabeth), the mother-to-be of John the Baptist. As soon as Elisheva sees Miriam, the Gospel of Luke says she was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” She then proclaims what has become the second part of this Rosary prayer, with the addition of the name “Jesus,” obviously the “fruit of the womb” being referenced.
And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb (Luke 1:42 DRB).
Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for Us Sinners, Now and at the Hour of Our Death
Nope, not even close. It’s just part of the Rosary prayer and has no Scriptural basis.
Shema Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad
Here, O Israel, the LORD Our God, the LORD is One
Known simply as the Shema, the cornerstone of the Jewish faith is recited every morning and every evening. This is the first part of the Shema, taken directly from the Torah:
HEAR, O ISRAEL: THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE (Deuteronomy 6:4 JPS 1917).
The second part of the Shema is this:
Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto L’olam Vaed
Blessed is the Name of His Glorious Kingdom for All Eternity
There are a few different stories of how this blessing became a part of the Shema. One thing for certain, though, is that it is not found in the Scriptures. For this reason, when it is said in liturgical response to the declaration of Deuteronomy 6:4, it is said in a much quieter voice – sometimes as a whisper.
A passage very close to this is found in Psalm 72:19, ubaruch shem kavod l’olam, where it is translated as “and blessed be His glorious name forever.”
Let’s try a few more:
God Helps Those Who Help Themselves
This might be true, but you read it in Poor Richard’s Almanack, not the Bible. According to the Quran, “God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is within themselves” (Sura 13:11). Don’t confuse that god with the God of the Bible, though. That god can’t change anything or help anyone. Yahweh and the Muslim Allah are not the same.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit
Those words are often referred to as the “Trinitarian Formula” for baptism. However, it is read as “Trinitarian” only by those who already have a Trinitarian paradigm. Others, for example those of the United Pentecostal Church and other Apostolic Pentecostal denominations, don’t see anything Trinitarian about these words at all. They are found in the Gospel of Matthew:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19 NKJV).
It should be noted that the Gospel of Luke records these instructions slightly differently:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47 NKJV).
Some have debated the authenticity of the last few verses in Matthew, but the fact is there is no manuscript evidence that it was written any other way. The Didache, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, has almost identical terminology (Didache7:1), which may itself be a quote from Matthew. Copies of a “Hebrew Matthew” such as Shem Tob shorten the phrase, removing any possible Trinitarian reference. These are generally dated much later, likely Hebrew translations from Greek or Latin, and can’t be considered reliable manuscript evidence.
Yes, this saying does come from the Bible.
Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child
Close, but not quite.
He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV).
Money is the Root of All Evil
Careful now, this one actual IS in the Bible.
…money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV).
It is things like this that cause all kinds of problems in Christian teaching and doctrine. Those words are in Scripture, exactly like I quoted them. But that isn’t the whole verse, as most of you probably know.
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV).
But even that translation (KJV) of the complete thought has a problem: in Greek there is no definite article “the” in front of the word “root.” It should be rendered more like this:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil (NKJV).
Quoting just part of a verse may sound good, but it will often leave you with an incorrect understanding of what is being said. You may come up with something totally wrong, or you may completely miss the point.
Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).
Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).
A Cord of Three Strands Is Not Quickly Broken
The King’s Name is a Tower of Strength
William Shakespeare in Richard III. He may have adapted it from Proverbs 18:10, The name of the LORD is a strong tower.
The Lion Will Lie Down With The Lamb
The Prophet Isaiah gives a number of tranquil word pictures of a future time of peace here on this earth. This describes some future state, called by various names and not necessarily referring to the same thing, subject to someone’s interpretation. Maybe he is describing Eternity, the Olam Haba (the world to come), the Messianic Kingdom, the Millennial reign of the Messiah, Paradise – all the same yet all different depending on your paradigm. Whatever it is, there are a couple of passages that might be referenced:
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
The wolf and the lamb will graze together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox;
And dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the LORD.
But there is no Bible passage that says the lion will lie down with the lamb. It’s a nice picture, though.
By Manual Woodworkers & WeaversEternal symbol of peace, the lion and lamb lie down together in repose and serenity on woven tapestry wall hanging, complete with wooden hanging rod. Designed by Nancy Glazier and inscribed with I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety from Psalm 4:8. 36″ x 26″.
Unless marked otherwise, Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation