Mistaken and Misquoted Bible Passages and Words

Dust off your Bible and read it for truth.
Dust off your Bible and read it for truth.

It's funny how the world quotes from the Bible those verses which aren't actually in the Bible. Then there are misquotes where they have the correct Scripture but the wrong wording. There also are a few terms Christian's refer too, where the word isn't actually in the Bible, but the concept or truth of it is. This is a fun, rather amusing study. Follow along and find out what the Bible doesn't say.

Cleanliness is next to godliness is not in the Bible, but a quote from John Wesley.
Cleanliness is next to godliness is not in the Bible, but a quote from John Wesley. | Source

Mistaken quotes attributed to the Bible

"God helps those who help themselves"

Sorry, this is not in the Bible, nor is it biblical. It is actually a quote by Benjamin Franklin, who is not exactly a theologian. This quote is really quite opposite of what the Bible teaches. Take for example the following Scriptures:

"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

Thus says the LORD, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD. Jeremiah 17:5

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered. Proverbs 28:26

The Bible teaches us that without God, we will go astray. We cannot depend on ourselves. We are not perfect, we are not God, and we are sinners, every last one of us.

"Cleanliness is next to godliness."

Another proverb-ish sounding verse, but not in the Bible. Strangely, it is from the mouth of John Wesley, the great 18th century evangelist. Whether he meant physical cleanliness, or heart cleanliness, I am not sure.

"To thine own self be true."

Buzzer sounds again. Not in the Word of God, but from Shakespeare's pen in his famous play Hamlet. And again, it is not even a biblical concept. The Bible says to be true to God our Father, not ourselves.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

"Moderation in all things."

This quote is not in the Bible but from the great philosopher Aristotle.

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

Neither of these are in the Bible and it is not known exactly where these phrases came from.

"God works in mysterious ways."

Although this a true statement, it is not in the Bible. This phrase comes from a hymn by William Cowper.

"God moves in a mysterious way,

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm."

Source

Misquoted Scriptures

"Spare the rod, spoil the child."

While the concept seems correct, the Scriptures do not word it this way. The verses this quote is likely to be attributed to is:

"He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently." Proverbs 13:24

"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him." Proverbs 23:13-14

"Money is the root of all evil."

This is a misquote of 1 Timothy 6:10, which actually 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."

There is a significant difference here. First of all "all kinds" is not the same as "all." It does not say money is not the root of all evil, but the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. People who are greedy and covetous have a love of money. If money were the root of all or even all kinds of evil, that would eliminate giving money to the poor and needy, providing for ones family, and many other good, godly uses of it.

"The lion shall lay down with the lamb."

There are many who swear this is how the verse is worded, however the correct word usage of the verse is:

"In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all." Isaiah 11:6

"Pride goeth before a fall."

This miquoted verse comes from Proverbs 16:18 and says:

"Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

It means pretty much the same thing, however.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

This is worded wrong. The correct wording, which can be found in Matthew 7:12 is "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

The NIV does use almost the same wording as the misquote.

Three wisemen is a myth

Source

That's not how the story goes

There are stories in the Bible which for generations have been told with inaccurate facts. Here are just a few:

Eve ate the apple in the garden.

There is no mention of a specific fruit in the story of Eve's sin. It is simply called "fruit."

Three wise men came to see baby Jesus bearing gifts.

There is no reference to the number three. It says "wise men from the East."

The word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, but the reality of it is shown in the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The word "Trinity" is not in the Bible, but the reality of it is shown in the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The word isn't there, but the truth of it is

The Trinity

The word "Trinity," believe it or not, is not in the Bible; however the truth of it is to be found throughout the Scriptures. We can see the Trinity at work in creation. In Genesis 1:1-2 God and the Spirit are present in the making of the earth, and John 1:2-3 says that all things were made through Christ. In Genesis 1:26, 3:22, and Isaiah 6:8, the words "We" and "Us are used referring to the Trinity.

At the Baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3:16, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all present. In the Great Commission found in Matt. 28:19, Jesus sends the disciples out to preach in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. Notice it say "in the Name" not Names. The three are One. There are many, many more evidences throughout the Gospel's and Paul's writings showing the presence and truth of the Triune God.

The rapture

The word "rapture" is not in the Scriptures, but it is described in the New Testament. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 Paul describes it this way, "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord."

The word "rapture" means to be snatched away. The rapture is a bit of a controversial topic in Christendom. Some believers simply don't believe there will be a rapture. Others disagree on the timeline, and still others disagree on which Scriptures are talking about the rapture or the 2nd coming, or some other event. The 1 Thessalonians verse I quoted is the most popular one used to describe the rapture. This is not an essential doctrine so we need to give grace to one another.

God is not mentioned in the book of Esther.

Surprising but true. However, when Queen Esther realized that the Hebrew people, her people, would be destroyed, she called for a fast. Fasting was always accompanied by prayer, and the Hebrew people prayed to the One God.

The Incarnation

The word "Incarnation" is not in the Bible, however the doctrine of the Incarnation is definitely there. The word "Incarnation" means "in the flesh." Merriam Webster defines it this way, "It is the unity of the Divine and humanity." God came to earth in the form of a Man (flesh) who was Jesus Christ.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." John 1:1-5

"Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory." 1 Tim. 3:16 (NLT)

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, andcoming in the likeness of men." Philippians 2:5-8.

Miscellaneous things that are not in the Bibe

The sinners prayer

There is nothing wrong with saying a sinners prayer when committing your life to Christ. But for the record, there is no actual formulaic sinners prayer in the Bible. On the day of Pentecost when Peter preached and 3,000 souls were saved, there is no mention that a sinners prayer was said by all who were saved. When they asked, "What must we do to ?" Peter simply replied "Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

The altar call

While there are instances, such as on the day of Pentecost, where thousands of people believed on the Lord, we don't find an actual altar call where people are called to an altar to get saved. Again, that is not to say it is wrong to do so. Personally, I think it is wonderful.

Slain in the Spirit

This term is not in the Bible. This is my own personal view, but I believe that there are no examples of people being slain in the Spirit as people do it today. People for generations, charismatics and pentecostal have lined up people, like in an assembly line, and when someone laid their hands on them, the Holy Spirit knocked the person flat on their backs. I fail to see how this serves any purpose and I find that people who practice this are calling attention to themselves, not the Lord.

There are instances in the Bible where the Lord has appeared to someone (usually they are alone and in prayer) and in awe they fell on their face, or actually fainted or fell asleep. In Daniel 10:5-12 we find such an occurrence:

"I looked up and saw a man dressed in linen clothing, with a belt of pure gold around his waist. His body looked like a precious gem. His face flashed like lightning, and his eyes flamed like torches. His arms and feet shone like polished bronze, and his voice roared like a vast multitude of people.

Only I, Daniel, saw this vision. The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide. So I was left there all alone to see this amazing vision. My strength left me, my face grew deathly pale, and I felt very weak. Then I heard the man speak, and when I heard the sound of his voice, I fainted and lay there with my face to the ground.

Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.

Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer."

I don't believe this is what is going on when people do the assembly line fall over thing in some charismatic churches and meetings. It is not a private experience, it is done by the laying on of hands of another person, and they are not seeing a vision of the Lord. Certainly they are not sleeping or fainting.

Again, this is not an essential and we all need to offer grace.

Read it and you will know

A lot of the sayings that people attribute to the Bible sound like proverbs, wisdom from above. The misquotes are probably ignorance, or Bible illiteracy. Sometimes it's just like the old game where somebody whispers something to someone else, and they pass it on and mess it up, and on it goes until it sounds nothing like the original or a very botched up version on it. People hear it enough times and figure it's true.

If you want to know about the Bible, God, Jesus, and all the saints and prophets, it's a good idea to learn what it says by reading it yourself. Second hand knowledge isn't always accurate. The Berean's in the book of Acts always went home after hearing Paul and his friends preach and teach to make sure that what they were saying was accurate. So, be a good Berean and read the Bible for yourself. Then you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

© 2012 Lori Colbo

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Comments 35 comments

spease profile image

spease 4 years ago from Minneapolis Mn

Well done hub. Thanks


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

thanks for stopping by spease


Phoebe Pike 4 years ago

Interesting hub. A lot of people assume "three wise men" because of the three gifts given.


Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 4 years ago from washington

Very well done. Just one thing.

Jesus said it was a whale; Matthew 12: 40 "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly.."


Civil War Bob profile image

Civil War Bob 4 years ago from Glenside, Pennsylvania

Well done hub, Lori...voted up, useful, and interesting. Hopefully your information to invitation format will be used by the Lord as you intend it! (Psalm 37:4)

Grace and peace to you!!


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

Mostly they are good saying even if not in the Bible. I think people have a tendency to attribute things to the Bible if they con't know where they came from. The most annoying one is about being our brothers keeper because it misrepresents the Bible.


Dave Mathews profile image

Dave Mathews 4 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

lambservant: Thank you! I truly enjoyed going through this hub helping me to both remember and to learn about my Bible. Often we can see a scripture and then attribute it to the common everyday sayings used by others. We see that the scripture is not word for word, the saying, but the idea the thought could apply.


bockshiner profile image

bockshiner 4 years ago from Dallas, TX

I like this hub. It's interesting. I've heard people use every one of those quotes attributed to the Bible. When people say "God helps those who help themselves" I will almost always correct them because this is the opposite of what the Bible teaches.


ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 4 years ago from Southern California

This was interesting and a lot of work.

I always have a problem when the word bible is used in the singular. It is ambiguous and vague as there are two bibles. The Old and the New.

Like the World War, it was originally just called a World War, it was not until the next war that a number was added to it.

MY point is that there was no knowledge or expectation of either the bible or the war that there would be a follow on to the original.

During the Jimmy Carter presidency there was a B1 Bomber that was built and then the project was terminated. In the 1980s there was a B1-B bomber that replaced the B1, which now is called the B1-A.

Again my point is that it was not planned, nor expected. The same is true of the bibles.

The first bible was written only hundreds of years before the bible on Jesus. These bibles were written by many people, over many years and collated and edited at the time printing became available.

The original documents were selected by people who didn't live during the times that the documents were written.

The point is that the bible was created by humans, selected by humans, and edited by humans. Numbers, verses, and chapters. along with punctuation and spaces between words were all edited by humans.

There is little to no connection that the Old Testament and the New Testament should be treated as one bible. The Jews were in existence during the time Of Christ, chose not to add the New Testament to their bible.

One has to wonder why they did that when they were eye witnesses to the incarnate Jesus Christ.

Also the bible(s) have been translated over the years into many languages, and that was done by humans, not by divine inspiration.

Different languages and different cultures have different idioms, and different contexts so the true meaning of the original language may change during a translation. That may also be the source of these misquotes that you detailed so well here.

Thanks


Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 4 years ago from US

Very good hub, I touched on these at one time. Strange all the things people who won't even read the bible go around quoting as gospel. I believe no matter how many men have translated our bible, if we read in the spirit God gives us true meaning in our souls.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Onusonus, what version were you using, I checked NKJ, NLT, and NIV and they all said great fish.

Dahoglund, I'd forgotten about the brother's keeper. I believe that came from Cain way back in Genesis when he said "Am I my brother's keeper?" Many think it was a statement.

Thank you all for stopping by and leaving comments.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

You wrote "read the Bible for yourself. Then you shall know the truth". I agree entirely. There are so many wonderful books to read and speakers to listen to but nothing is more important than reading the Word ourselves. Many sayings might be nice but not commands or instruction from God. We must discern the truth for ourselves.

I hope you don't mind if I answer your question to Onusonus. The King James version of the Bible uses the word whale. In any regard, your Hub is very interesting and useful.


Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 4 years ago from washington

KJV. In the book of Jonah it's a fish, but in Matthew it days Whale.


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 4 years ago from American Southwest

Very good Hub. I hope you did your SEO well so lots of people find it and read it. I also hope you write another hub on the subjects ib radmasters brought up, because there are answers to all those things, but it would be too long to reasonably go in a comment.

The short answer is that humans wrote the Bible, but as guided by God, so we can trust the original. Translations are just that - translations. If you think you can make a translation truer to the original, go for it!

One example of translation problems is another frequent source of confusion: the original text of the commandment is more like "Thou shalt not murder" than "Thou shalt not kill". There are times to kill as is clear in other parts of the Bible.


Onusonus profile image

Onusonus 4 years ago from washington

No big deal though :)


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

I'll be dogged, Onusonus and HB, that was the one version I didn't check. I'l make a correction.

aethelthryth, you bring up a good point. Our Sunday school class of 5 and 6 year old girls have been studying the 10 commandments and my partner and I realized that it deserves a clarification. Peace to all.


ShalahChayilJOY profile image

ShalahChayilJOY 4 years ago from Billings, Montana

LOVE THIS!

"To thine own self be true."

Buzzer sounds again. Not in the Word of God, but from Shakespeare's pen in his famous play Hamlet. And again, it is not even a biblical concept. The bible says to be true to God our Father, not ourselves.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

Yeshua did say, Heaven and earth shall pass away but My Word shall never pass away. And in Isaiah, we are told that God will "create a new heaven and a new earth" hence all old things will obviously be passed away. Also in one of the letters to Corinthian church. "Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new."

Excellent hub....clear and easy to read and understand. Very informative.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Thanks for stopping Shalah, good feedback. Blessings.


Motherbynature profile image

Motherbynature 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

Be very careful to check all versions.


indymichelle profile image

indymichelle 4 years ago from Southport, Indiana

Oh My Gosh...what a great hub. I love that you wrote about this. I have personally spent a lot of time reading/studying the Bible and when people say things that are in the Bible that are not I don't really want to correct them but just know otherwise. Thank you for a great hub.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Hi indy, I know what you mean. You don't want to be rude and say "Oh, you've got it wrong, that's not in the Bible." At the same time, you don't want them to believe something about God and the Bible that isn't true. So it takes a bit of care to word your response and lovingly. We should not be out to win an argument, but to speak truth into someone's life because we care. I usually say something like "Well, you know, in my studies in the Bible here's what I found to be true..." Thanks for stopping by.


abbaelijah profile image

abbaelijah 3 years ago from Nigeria

nice hub well done !


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Thanks Abbaelijah.


Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

Most Christians, and I am speaking a very high percentage, read the King James Version which is much older than the one you are using.

The KJV says Root of all evil

1 Timothy 6:10

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.

The KJV is different

Under your title Misquoted Scripture

Isaiah 11:6 doesn’t say The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion..Been safe with the lion isn’t mentioned, it simply says the calf, the lion, and the fatling will lie together. Speaking of the fatling, verse six doesn’t say in the KJV yearling as the Bible version that you used does, it says fatling and there is a big difference..a fatling is a young animal that has been fattened enough and is ready to be slaughtered, and a yearling is simply an animal (especially. a sheep, calf, or foal) a year old.

Isaiah 11:6-9 KJV

6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.

9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

This quote is from the “Golden Rule” which is based on the scripture in Leviticus 19:1 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (13th century bc)

Yahshua (Jesus) just reiterated and reworded it in

Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Some think Confucius first said this, but he used the Silver Rule

In the section you titled “The word isn't there, but the truth of it is”

The words aren’t there and neither is the truth of what people think the words imply. All of those scriptures mean something completely different, but that’s about five hubs later.


Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

I'm sorry, I forgot to say "Well, you know, in my studies in the Bible here's what I found to be true..."


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Thanks for your response Deborah. I am curious about your last statement, "The words aren't there and neither is the truth of what people think the words imply. All of those scriptures mean something completely different..." The words were Trinity, rapture, and incarnation, and the fact that God wasn't mentioned in Esther. What do you think they mean?


Deborah Sexton 3 years ago

Well, I'm Jewish by religion, and I speak, read, and write Hebrew, and I know what they mean but to explain in comments is impossible because it takes a lot of interpreting, explaining, and a lot of space.

As far as God not being in Esther, that's true so you can omit that one from my statement.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

You are right, these things take time and space. The words rapture, trinity and incarnation are not Hebrew words, but I realize you are also talking not just about the words themselves but the concepts as well. I appreciate your comments and feedback. Blessings and shalom.


a2jc4life 2 years ago

I never noticed the discrepancy between "fish" and "whale" in the Old and New Testaments, but I suspect it's a translation issue related to vocabulary that does or doesn't exist in Hebrew vs. Greek vs. English. (I also now am curious whether it might have been neither. It is my understanding that what is sometimes translated as "whale," for instance, is actually a more generic "great sea creature"-type of word and may refer to sea creatures we don't have names for in our day or language.)

Also, I would argue that, while the phrase "slain in the Spirit" is not found in Scripture, there are multiple references to people's being so overwhelmed by the Spirit of God that they fell down as though dead. Off the top of my head, for instance, I recall that those guarding Jesus' tomb had this experience.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Greetings a2jc4life, I agree about the fish/whale thing.

If you go back and read my section on slain in the Spirit you will see that what I said was, the way people do it today is not the way it was shown in the Bible and I elaborate on that. You example was not one I'd thought of so I appreciate it. The thing is, the way charismatics do it today is oftentimes people gather assembly line style and one after one the leader puts their hand on the head of the person, often times with a nudge, and the person goes down with a catcher at the ready. That is not what you see in the Bible. I think people today who behave like that are making a mockery of the holiness of God. It becomes a fun game. I believe absolutely someone can be slain in the Spirit, but as in the Bible, it is not a common occurrence. Hope that helps. Thanks for your comments and blessings.


a2jc4life 2 years ago

I grew up in charismatic churches, so I'm familiar with the practice. :) I agree with you that what is commonly seen has no biblical precedent. There are, unfortunately, abuses and mimicries of all the Spirit's work. :( I've seen some "throw out the baby with the bathwater," though (so to speak), so wanted to add that clarification. It *is* in there (conceptually) -- and more than just once. But not like we usually see in churches today.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

So a2j, we are in agreement. Thanks for your comments and experience. God is able to do anything.


LizMac60 profile image

LizMac60 20 months ago from United Kingdom

Enjoyed your hub. Misquotes can be dangerous and misleading. Well done.


Robert Levine profile image

Robert Levine 12 months ago from Brookline, Massachusetts

My high school English teacher--public school--used to emphasize that the quote was "Love of money": "If you think money is the root of all evil, you can give me all your money so you won't become evil."

The Christian tradition that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was an apple stems from a play on the Latin word "malus" (I guess from the Vulgate Latin translation), which means both "evil" and "apple." The Jewish tradition is that it was a fig, because of the subsequent mention that they made their loincloths out of fig leaves.


Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 12 months ago

Great hub I appreciate how you encourage bible reading to the degree of really listening to what is said, not by scanning but in details.

this is the very reason we have so many religions with different views and doctrines. Jesus himself says there is one truth.we validate it by careful study in his thinking. not our own we are the one who have imperfect thinking.

another thought is the translations done by imperfect men even King James has proven this with the deletion of the tetragrammaton YHWH in over 7000 times God's personal name is listed more then Jesus ,also as JAH. KJV kept his name in the bible 4 times .

now what we have is that people do not know Jehovah from Jesus and call Jesus God. those who refuse to read the scriptures in the right light.

they ignore Jehovah name completely. sad because did Jesus himself go to the temple of worship and read from the scrolls ,simple he had to Read from the old testament also and pronounce the name Jehovah as well.

the truth has always been available but people seem to think they got it all rapped up in knowledge and are far from the truth, sad because that is a dead end not allowing to the entrance of the true God Jehovah and his Son Jesus

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