Skip to main content

That's Not in the Bible

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


As a longtime Bible teacher, it saddens me to hear people misquote scriptures. It saddens me even more when people say what the WORLD says instead of what the WORD says and they claim it is in the Bible.

People make many mistakes about statements, expressions, or phrases they think are in the Bible because they sound biblical. While those sayings are true with sound information, they actually came from other sources.

I recently gave my Bible students a short quiz with 10 sayings for them to select the ones from the Bible. No one received a good score because they have heard certain phrases for so long that they think they are in the Bible.

Here is the link to that quiz. Feel free to take the quiz yourself.

"Adam and Eve sinned by eating an apple."

Nine out of ten Christians say, "Adam and Eve sinned by eating an apple." That's not in any version of the Holy Bible. Genesis 3:6 does describe Eve eating fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that was in the middle of the garden. Then she shared "the fruit" with Adam.

People in other parts of the world think the first couple ate their popular fruit.

"Three wise men visited baby Jesus with gifts."

Even the Christmas cards and the song, "We Three Kings of Orient Are” have it wrong. The Bible tells us three gifts were presented to Jesus when He was a baby. There were more than three wise men. It was a caravan of them who walked for two years to get to the child who was no longer an infant. Then three of the magi present gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Him (Matthew 2:1-12).

The wise men or magi should not be in nativity scenes because by the time they in Bethlehem, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had already moved to a house.

"A whale swallowed Jonah."

The Book of Jonah never said it was a whale that swallowed Jonah when he was thrown overboard. The original language of Jonah 1:17 says that God sent a “great fish” to take Jonah in the right direction.

The confusion might be that Jesus quoted in Matthew 12:40, "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a big fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Some versions of the Bible do say "in the belly of a whale."

Something might have been lost in the translation between the original language of Hebrew in the Old Testament and the original language of Greek in the New Testament where those two verses are recorded.

"Cleanliness is next to godliness."

It is true that good hygiene is appropriate and appreciated, but "cleanliness is next to godliness" is not in the Bible. It is a proverb found in a sermon by John Wesley, the great 18th-century evangelist and founder of the Methodist movement in the Church of England.

If you want to use the saying yourself to get your kids to take a bath and wash behind their ears, feel free to say it, but just don’t claim it’s in the Bible.

"To thine own self be true."

"To thine own self be true" are words from Shakespeare's famous play Hamlet. The line is in Act 1 Scene 3 spoken by King Claudius' chief minister, Polonius. It is part of a speech where Polonius gives his son, Laertes, his blessing and advice on how to behave while away at a university.

The Bible teaches us to be true to God our Father, rather than being true to ourself.

"Spare the rod, spoil the child."

"Spare the rod, spoil the child" is good parenting advice. However, it is not a scripture even though a lot of people insist that it is.

"Money is the root of all evil."

This is a common mistake that even preachers and Bible scholars misquote. First Timothy 6:10 does not say, "Money is the root of all evil." The scripture really says:

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."

"God helps those who help themselves."

"God helps those who help themselves" is a good idea. However, that statement is not in the Bible. Actually, that is a quote by Benjamin Franklin in his Poor Richard’s Almanac.

Romans 5:8 is the exact opposite of the above quote. While we were still sinners and unable to help ourselves, Christ died for us proving that we are unable to help ourselves without depending on God.

Here is a real scripture that contradicts the quote:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

God's help does not depend on whether people help themselves or not. God wants us to depend on Him.

"Moderation in all things."

The above words are not in the Bible. They are the words from the great philosopher Aristotle.

"This too shall pass or all things must pass."

The above sayings are not in the Bible. Luke did say something similar in his gospel, "And it came to pass." He used it to indicate a timeline of his teaching. The phrase appears over 400 times in the King James Version of the Bible. Every time it is a reference to time passing and not trouble or uncomfortable situations soon to come to an end.

"God works in mysterious ways."

Although this a true and it sounds good, it is not in the Bible. The above statement is in a hymn by William Cowper, an English poet and hymnodist.

The major prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways are different from ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). People think God works in mysterious ways because they don't understand with their finite minds what He does.

"God is an on-time God."

Surely, the above statement is true. God is an on-time God because He is not bound by our time. According to 2 Peter 3:8 “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day.”

Besides, God does what He wants to do and when He wants to do it. In that sense, God is an on-time God with many biblical examples to prove it. However, there is no such scripture that states that.

"Love the sinner, but hate the sin."

It is good advice to love the sinner, but hate the sin that he commits. It sounds like it is in the Bible, but it is not. In the 5th Century, Augustine wrote a line that translates to something similar. He said, “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.”

Gandhi, a practitioner of Hinduism also said something similar. He said, “Hate the sin and not the sinner.” Check out what the psalmist said in Psalm 97:10 and Jesus said in Matthew 5:43-44.

"God will not put on you more than you can bear."

This saying is true, but it is not in the Bible. People say it to comfort others who are suffering. First Corinthians 10:13 says something quite different. Paul’s words to the Corinthians tell them God will provide a way of escape from temptation.

"Be in the world, but not of the world."

This one may surprise you, and you might want to check to find that these exact words are nowhere in the Bible. Parts of the statement are expressed in various parts of the Bible (John 15:19, John 17:14-15, Romans 12:1-2), but they are not found anywhere word for word as they are often misquoted.

Power in the Word of God

There is much power in the word of God. However, there is no power in misquotes from the Bible or opinions that people claim are in the Bible.

Related Articles