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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

Comments

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on June 01, 2019:

Hi, this was a very good article. Many people actually make these misinterpretations, but I was aware of them. However, I think Wesley may have missed a point here. "Cleanliness" of the soul is indeed next to Godliness. We "cleanse" our soul by following Christ and acting according to the greatest Commandment of Love. In that, Wesly is correct. Nevertheless, your article was interesting and I enjoyed the "nerd" humor. Respectfully, Tim

Justin Aptaker (author) from United States on February 25, 2014:

Wow, Aaron, thank you for the very helpful comment. I've changed and grown a lot in the years since I wrote this article, and if I had written it recently, it would have been much different. In any case, I think you are absolutely right on your points, and I will edit this article accordingly. Thanks again :-)

Aaron on February 14, 2014:

I really enjoyed reading this, I just wanted to ask you to re-ponder something :) I fear that in examining things philosophically and intellectually, we can often sacrifice the power of simple truths. Take the saying "this too shall pass" for instance. In times of heartache, pain, and anxiety, remembering this phrase can be an enormous comfort. Even in times of great happiness and excitement, remembering this simple truth is very beneficial. It reminds us to appreciate and not take for granted the blessings God has given us. I believe over complicating such a helpful saying takes the power away from it, and robs people of the encouragement it can give. This life is complicating enough without over thinking simple sayings that bring hope to those who are moved by them. I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Again thank you for your thoughts, I admire anyone who has the guts to say what they think!

Rayne123 on September 10, 2013:

Hi there, how are you

Very good hub. A lot of us are guilty of interpreting the bible the way we want it to read, but like other books or even conversations you may have with a friend or acquaintance you may have to ask for confirmation on what was just said.

We tend to hear and see only what we want. "don't believe half of what you hear and not all of what you see" forget whose quote that is but its true.

Because the bible is coded and Jesus spoke in parables, we really need to pay attention to the words and not only the ones we are reading, but the ones beside it.

Just like cards (and I don't do them) most readers can only tell you something depending on where and what card it stands beside.

I think that the saying "this too shall come to pass" is in the bible but decoded. On bible gateway there are interpretations of the scriptures, if you put in "Gods word" it will read a lot more clearer for you. Not sure they are dead on but it makes sense.

I researched and found this scripture that tells us that very thing:

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal 2 Cor 4

and translated into Gods word reads as is:

17 Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine. 18 We don’t look for things that can be seen but for things that can’t be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can’t be seen last forever.

Blessings

Laurie

h-squared on August 26, 2013:

US Money, having many symbols of Satan all over it and having been created to divert people's minds from thinking about God+, in an effort to usurp worship of the one true God+ and replace it with Lucifer (the most obvious signs of which are the all seeing eye of Horus and the six sided star of "sacred geometry" and 5 sided pentagram (having been used to identify that money was created by Freemasons - a brotherhood now under Illuminati (Satanic) control)), SURELY is the root of all evil in a symbolic sense of the word. Since a great deal of the mysteries in the bible are thinly veiled in allegorical language, we can see that the LOVE of money is actually the worship of Lucifer. Knowing that money is his device, we can attribute the same preoccupation with it to being equal to worshiping the devil, himself. It is his vehicle to many other evils based upon it, such as war, pornography, entertainment, politics, science and technology, professional sports, etc... so many of the industries of this world are filled with his mark upon them by their constant strive for profits at all costs, setting up a "love" of money over a love of God+. I am not surprised at how all encompassing this one statement is when trying to discern the truth of this world from the lies that are used to trap the unwary mind. It is why God+ asks us to focus on the image of Christ+ with all our hearts and all our minds. God+ was issuing a warning and a proof that he would protect the faithful from this, Satan's biggest, deadliest and most obvious trap.

Synnoveah Cooke on July 13, 2013:

This Too Shall Pass actually comes from a poem, that has a story attached to it. I unfortunately am out of town, so I cannot access it right now, but when I get home this next weekend I will be happy to post it if posts are permitted to be long. For it is a very long poem. I might actually have it on FB but not sure which year it was posted.

Malcolm Rogers on May 17, 2013:

Awesome.

krispage on November 19, 2012:

In the "This Too Shall Pass" quote; perhaps it originated from the bible verse Matthew 24:6 KJV - where the verse says "And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things 'must come to pass', but the end is not yet".

Then eventually people translate this Bible verse from one interpretation to another (well, this is only according to my opinion).

Justin Aptaker (author) from United States on August 28, 2012:

I don't believe that was original to the Pumkins, but "God is empty, just like me" very well may have been. :)

bockshiner from Dallas, TX on May 16, 2012:

Interesting hub. "God helps those who help themselves" is the one that bothers me when I hear it because it is contrary to the actually bible teaching. And I always thought "cleanliness is godliness" was a Smashing Pumpkins quote. :)

Stephen on May 14, 2012:

An adequate question for the believer to ask, though, is how biblical is the comfort found in the reminder that "This too shall pass." Really we should be focusing on the promise of what awaits us who believe. Romans 5 reminds the believer that suffering produces hope for the kingdom of God; if we simply take heart in the temporary end of a given earthly trial, we are finding comfort in the wrong thing. I have found in reading both stories in mythhology, and even fairy tales, the parallels in parables and the lives of those in the old and new testaments match up very closely, with a few holes here and there. The next stop is understand the human "psyche', anima and animus terms Carl Jung has claim to fame. For then we find, those terms are not his at all, but did he knows this? if we read about Jacob Boehme, it was he that could have brought later on the science for electricity and Newton's Law of Gravity, as well as spirals used in meteorology and magnetic fields. For example, the list goes on and one.: The word "souls" (psuchás, plural of psuché) also requires explanation, as the Greek word is far too complex in meaning to define facilely as a person's immortal essence, as most Catholics and Protestants are wont to do. Its basic meaning is "breath," and is thus equivalent to the Hebrew nephesh and Latin anima (as in English "animal" and "animate"). One of its uses is as the New Testament version of what Genesis 2:7 calls "the breath of life," that is, the vital force that makes a body live: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [nephesh]." Luke 12:20 and Acts 20:10 use psuché in this manner.

From this basic meaning derives its extensions: as "life" (see Matthew 6:25; John 10:11; Philippians 2:30; Revelation 12:11) and "living being" (see I Corinthians 15:45; Revelation 16:3). In addition, psuché can refer to the seat of emotion, will, and desire, whereas we would use the terms "heart," "mind," "personality," or "being" today (see Luke 1:46; Acts 14:2, 22; Hebrews 6:19; II Peter 2:14). In a similar sense, it can also identify man's moral and spiritual life (see Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 1:22; 2:11, 25; 4:19; III John 2).

Stephen on May 14, 2012:

What one must understand is that these people GET THEM from the bible, and toy with the words and rephrase them, claiming them as their own. Thomas Jefferson did the same thing as did Alexander Pope and Thomas Wolfe. The ideas came from there. And if not, it is amazing that people are near paraphrasing something written long before their existence.

Chris on April 14, 2012:

Thus was very helpful. I will pay this forward.

gracefaith from United Kingdom on April 04, 2012:

Haha, fantastic idea for a hub! I hate the 'this too shall pass' nonsense. It may well not while we are on Earth- whatever it is! :P

Happy hubbing :)

sallysunshine on April 01, 2012:

I am so happy that I am solid in Christ as "this too shall pass" is extreme comfort to me as I know GOD has a plan that makes "everything ALL right" and I say this because I believe it! Do not be too critical of believers that do not express themselves exactly as you do.....that is how you lose them!

Jezelangel from Cebu City, Philippines on November 05, 2011:

Good...very useful for my research studies..Keep on writing!

K on October 28, 2011:

excellence. A real truth seeker.

sonfollowers from Alpharetta, GA on September 29, 2011:

Good stuff, my friend. I like your writing style. I'm looking forward to reading more of your work. See you around.

tlmcgaa70 from south dakota, usa on September 27, 2011:

ironically, my mother and i were just talking about this very thing, and i considered writing a hub on it...alas you beat me to it. at least it is written. well done. i told mom if cleanliness WAS next to Godliness...i am sure GOD would have meant internal cleanliness, as HE always was more concerned with a persons spiritual state rather than how he looked on the outside.

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on February 24, 2011:

Well, first, let me say I'm selfish and like the creature comforts. OK?

Sufis have a leader to whom they look for guidance and follow around. They also give up all worldly goods and carry a bowl for alms; mainly food and rely in the generosity of others. Then with a bit of luck and a lot of prayer and effort and learning, perhaps become a master themselves.

I know this is simplistic to the extreme, and someone who "knows all about Sufism" will come and tell me I know nothing... I suppose I do, but when I learned these basic bits, I thought, the whirling Dervish business and the mysticism and trance like states may be fun, but "in the world and of it" are my ideas of following a true path

Justin Aptaker (author) from United States on February 24, 2011:

Thank you, twilight! I too, have always found the Sufis fascinating, although I'll admit that I haven't yet looked into the rigors of their philosophy. Feel free to share what you know about it right here in the comments if you like :)

Twilight Lawns from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K. on February 23, 2011:

I really do love your hubs, my friend. you speak sense, but don't preach. You are brief and to the point and you touch on matters that are relevant.

I was fascinated to discover that "This too shall come to pass" originated with the Sufis. A branch of Islam which I have always found fascinating, mystical and poetic... until I looked into the rigours that go along with the philosophy.

graceomalley on February 05, 2011:

I think you are onto something there.

Justin Aptaker (author) from United States on February 04, 2011:

Maybe anything written in quaint English sounds like the Bible to people? Thus the "shall" in "this too shall pass" throws people off?

graceomalley on February 04, 2011:

Someone once told me "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" was in the bible. I'm not sure she believed me when i told her that quote is from Hamlet :)