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The “This Too Shall Pass 'Bible Verse'" Isn't Actually in the Bible

Justin Aptaker graduated summa cum laude from the University of Tennessee, earning a B.A. in psychology and a minor in religious studies.

This Too Shall Pass “Bible Verse”

I was quite surprised when I found out via keyword research that many, many people apparently think that the saying, “this too shall pass”, is a Bible verse. Thousands of people search Google for the "Bible verse" every month. However, the saying certainly does not come from the Bible. According to no less a source than Wikipedia (See: This too shall pass), it seems to come down from the Sufis: Muslim mystics.

It is understandable that people would think that this saying is in the Bible, though, as it certainly does express a great deal of wisdom. It reminds me of the great insights of the famous Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who said that “all is flux”. It is also reminiscent of the Buddha, who taught the wonderful concept of anicca (impermanence). The wisdom is this: whatever your present situation may be, whether wonderful or horrible, it certainly won't last. So if you're on top of the world, don't get overly excited about it, or you'll set yourself up for disappointment. And if you're in the pits, don't quit hoping, since things might always get better.

After I found out that so many people search online for the location of the "This Too Shall Pass Bible Verse", I began to wonder what other sayings were most commonly misattributed to the Judeo-Christian scriptures. After a few more hours of keyword and search-popularity research, a few more stood out.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness "Bible Verse"

The best information I've found (See: What is the origin of the phrase "cleanliness is next to godliness"? on Quora) traces this saying to the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, who wrote in 1791:

"But, before we enter on the subject, let it be observed, that slovenliness is no part of religion; that neither this nor any text of Scripture, condemns neatness of apparel. Certainly, this is a duty, not a sin. 'Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness.'"

I find it ironic that John Wesley begins by stating that no Bible verse condemns cleanliness. Now over 225 years later, thanks to him, troves of people believe in a Bible verse that promotes cleanliness to the level of godliness. But there is no bible verse even remotely similar to this phrase.

Money is the Root of All Evil "Bible Verse"

This quote, unlike the others in this article, is a misquotation of an actual bible verse. 1 Timothy 6:10 reads, “For the love of money is a root of all evils.” There is a great deal of difference between money itself causing evil, and the love of money causing evil. The first formulation makes the Bible’s ethics sound absurdly simplistic. Money, being an inert thing, cannot cause evil any more than rocks can cause evil. The real culprit, as the actual Bible verse makes clear, is the excessive desire for wealth.

According to many, a better translation of this verse would actually read, "The love of money is behind all sorts of evil/mischief/trouble/misery", or something similar. If that kind of translation is actually more accurate, then even an unbalanced craving for money is not a cause of “all evil”, but of “all sorts/kinds of evil”. This makes more sense as well. There are kinds of evil that are clearly not caused by greed. Some kinds of evil are caused by sadistic cruelty, for example. But there are also all kinds of evil that are caused by greed.

Dominicus Smout - The Miser and Death

The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil/misery

The love of money is the root of all sorts of evil/misery

God Helps Those Who Help Themselves "Bible Verse"

This saying came from Algernon Sydney, and was later used by Benjamin Franklin. It is not in the Bible. According to the Bible, God helps all living beings, regardless of anything they may or may not have done to help themselves.

For example, in Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV) Jesus declares:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

© 2011 Justin Aptaker

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