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Everyday Sayings From the Bible

Updated on February 25, 2017

An Astonishing Number Of Everyday Expressions Come From The Bible

Did you know that Sign of the times or Twinkling of an eye or Drop in the Bucket or Red Sky at Night and many other apparently modern phrases also originate from the Bible?



This isn't surprising because until recent times the Bible was likely to be the only book to be found in the average home so generations of authors were knowingly or unknowingly taught by or inspired by the world's greatest book. The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is an acknowledged literary masterpiece. We have also had a great deal of the Bible read aloud to us , in church, at school and elsewhere.

But what surprised me when researching my lens The Bible in Facts and Figures was how many not-overtly religious phrases and expressions originate from the Bible see below for a never-ending list.

If you are looking for a Saying from The Bible well you've come to right place : Seek and Ye Shall Find!

Common Sayings from the Bible

  • Nothing but skin and bones

    Job 19:19-20 All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. I am nothing but skin and bones Job 19:19-20

  • I escaped by the skin of my teeth

    All my intimate friends detest me; those I love have turned against me. I am nothing but skin and bones; I have escaped with only the skin of my teeth.

    Job 19:19-20

  • There's a time and a place for everything

    There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven

    Eccl 3:1

  • Going the extra mile

    If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

    Matthew 5:41

  • United we stand, "divided we fall"

    Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand".

    Matthew 12:25

  • Scapegoat

    Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. Leviticus 16:9-10

  • Red Sky at Night

    Jesus said: It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' 3 and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

    Matthew 16:2

  • The writing on the wall

    In the same hour came forth the fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace

    Daniel 5:5-6

  • The Gifted must Give More

    From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Luke 12:14

    (I love this one)

  • See below for even more Biblical Sayings in everyday use

Apparently Modern Expressions from the Bible

Expressions that you might have thought came from Shakespeare or more recent authors

  1. Twinkling of an eye

    We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. 1 Corinthians 15

  2. A man after his own heart

    But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart 1 Samuel 13:14

  3. Drop in the bucket

    Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket Drop in the bucket

  4. Powers that Be

    The powers that be are ordeyned of God. Whosoever therfore resysteth power resisteth the ordinaunce of God

    Romans 13:2

  5. The Greater the Knowledge the Greater the Pain

    For in the abundance of wisdom there is an abundance of vexation, so that he that increases knowledge increases pain.

    Ecclesiastes 1:18

Even More Sayings from the Bible

  • A little bird told me

    Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say. Matthew 16:23

  • Stumbling Block

    Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.

    Matthew 16:23

  • Gentle answer turns away wrath

    A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

    Proverbs 15:1 1

    Defuse someone's anger with a considered answer, almost always the best policy

  • Time to be born and a time to die

    here is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-- 2* A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

    This is also quoted in the film Blade Runner

  • Rise and shine

    "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

    Isaiah 60:1

  • Spare the rod, spoil the child

    He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Prov 13:24

    (Note this is sometimes misread to mean that you cannot harm a child by beating him no matter how hard and has actually led to deaths)

  • A leopard cannot change its spots

    Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil Jeremiah 13:23

  • Pride comes before a fall

    Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

  • Every day is miserable for the depressed, but a lighthearted man has a continual feast

    All the days of the afflicted are evil, but the cheerful of heart has a continual feast.

    Proverbs 15:15

  • By the sweat of your brow

    In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return

    Gen 3:19

  • Out of the mouths of babes

    Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger Psalm 8:2

  • Bite the Dust

    They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.

    Psalm 72

  • The Blind Leading the Blind

    He replied, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them; they are blind guides . If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."

    Matthew 15:13-14

Christian Gifts Bestsellers at Amazon

These are top sellers at Amazon this Christmas also available in Kindle version

Where'd That Come From?

Have you ever wondered where phrases like "the skin of my teeth" or "two heads are better than one" came from? Well, they are actually straight out of the Bible. Many common phrases in the English language have direct or close relations to verses in the Bible. Steven McCalip's book Where'd That Come From? describes each phrase's original context and usage in an educational and exciting way

Popular Sayings That Come From The Bible

  • Eat Drink and Be Merry

    And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry

    Luke 12:19

  • The blind leading the blind

    Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch

    Matthew 15:14

  • Straight and narrow

    Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

    Matthew 7:14

  • It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God

    Matt. 19:24

    This one must have made the Pious Rich squirm throughout the ages!

  • No man is a prophet in his own town

    Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house." He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them. He marveled because of their unbelief.

    Mark 6:1-6

  • Head on a Platter

    This refers to the unfortunate John the Baptist. And she came in straightway with haste unto the king, and asked, saying, I will that thou forthwith give me on a platter the head of John the Baptist

    Mark 6:25

  • Tearing Your Hair Out

    This news made me so angry that I ripped my clothes and tore hair from my head and beard. Then I just sat in shock

    Ezra 9:3

Bible Quotes - Biblical Quotes

From the Old to the New Testament, Bible quotes appeal to persons of all faiths. Many Bible quotes have become so common that most people no longer associate them with the Bible. Whether in old or modern English, Biblical quotes offer easily understood words of wisdom.

Versions of the Bible - The most popular Bible versions (there have been many more)

1. KJV - King James Bible (1611)

2. RSV - Revised Standard Version (1952)

3. NEB - New English Bible (1970)

4. GNB - Good News Bible (Today's English Version) (1976)

5. NIV - New International Version (1978)

6. NRSV - New Revised Standard Version (1990)

7. The Message (1993) By Eugene Peterson

8. CEV - Contemporary English Version (1995)

8a. New American Standard Bible

9. NIRV - New International Reader's Version (1996)

10. ESV - English Standard Version (2001)

Dangerous or Misinterpreted Biblical Expressions

Both of the following have been misinterpreted by over the zealous:-

You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. Because he loves me, says the LORD, I will rescue him

Psalm 91:11-16, NIV

This does not mean that you can enter the Lion's Den at the Zoo (you will have read about such cases in the papers)

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

Prov 23:13: "Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

This too does not mean that you cannot harm a child however much you beat him

More Sayings from the Bible

  1. He sold his birthright for a mess of pottage

    Genesis 25:31-34

  2. A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult

    Proverbs 12:16

  3. Pride comes before a fall

    Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

    Proverbs 16:18

  4. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

    John 8:32

  5. Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone.

    John 8:7

    One of the most beautiful quotes in the Bible and one we should all remember!

  6. Apple of his Eye

    In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye

    Appears twice

    Deuteronomy 32:10

    Zechariah 2:8

  7. Can the Leopard Change his Spots

    Jeremiah 13:23

  8. East of Eden

    So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

    Genesis 4:16

  9. A man after his own heart

    But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command.

    1 Samuel 13:14

  10. Filthy Lucre

    Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous (phrase occurs in two other verses)

    1 Timothy 3:3

  11. Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we will die

    Isaiah 22:13

  12. I'll pin him to the wall

    The next day an evil [a] spirit from God came forcefully upon Saul. He was prophesying in his house, while David was playing the harp, as he usually did. Saul had a spear in his hand 11 and he hurled it, saying to himself, "I'll pin David to the wall" But David eluded him twice

    1Sam 18:10-11

  13. Stranger in a strange land

    And Moses was content to dwell with the man and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land

    Exodus 2: 21-22

  14. Flesh Pots

    Flesh Pots in the Bible literally means "pots of meat" it is today used as a simile for "luxurious living"

    And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

    EXOD 16:3

  15. Quo Vadis

    Simon Peter asked him, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later."

    Quo vadis? is a Latin phrase meaning "Where are you going?"

    john 13:36

  16. Envy and wrath shorten the life

    Envy and wrath shorten the life, and carefulness bringeth age before the time.

    Ecclesiasticus 30:24

  17. Seek and Ye Shall Find

    Matthew 7:7

  18. A law unto himself

    Cannot locate this at present

  19. Absent in body, but present in spirit

    Colossians 2:5

Bet You Didn't Know That Came from The Bible!

  1. At my wit's end

    They reeled and staggered like drunken men; they were at their wits' end.

    Psalm 107:27

  2. Listen to advice and accept correction, then in the end you will be wise.

    Proverbs 19:20

  3. You Don't Know the Half of It

    When the Queen of Sheba visited Solomon.

    Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard

    1 Kings 10: 7

  4. Nothing new under the sun

    What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun

    ECC 1:9

  5. Writing On the Wall

    In the same hour came forth the fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote

    Daniel 5:5

  6. Knees Knocking Together

    Then the king's face grew pale and his thoughts alarmed him, and his hip joints went slack and his knees began knocking together

    Daniel 5:6

  7. United We Stand, Divided We Fall

    And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: Matthew 12:25

Inspirational Sayings from The Bible - Motivational Expersions from the Bible

Once again this concentrates on sayings that you may not realize originate from the bible

  1. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding.

    Proverbs, 4. 7

  2. Wisdom is better than rubies.

    Proverbs, 8. 11.

  3. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.

    Proverbs, 17. 22

  4. A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.

    Proverbs, 22. 1

  5. Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.

    Proverbs, 22. 6

  6. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

    Matthew 7:7

Sayings People Incorrectly Think Came from The Bible

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Apparently of Hebrew origins but not from The Bible, possibly also John Wesley.

God helps those that help themselves

by Benjamin Franklin.

God works in mysterious ways.

English poet William Cowper

The Sayings Often Used in Sermons - The ones people know come from the Bible

I've decided that I've got to include the known phrases as well for completeness, see the list below:-

  1. A thorn in the flesh

    To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. St Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7

  2. A voice crying in the Wilderness

    The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

    Isaiah 40:3 also Matthew 4:1-11

  3. Turn the Other Cheek

    If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also!

    This is one of the statements from Jesus which was a revolutionary change from previous religions and existing cultures

    Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29

  4. No man can serve two masters

    No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon

    Matthew 6:24

  5. Reap What You Sow

    Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows

    Galatians 6:7

  6. Thou Shalt Love thy Neighbor as Thyself

    Matthew 22:39 and in many other passages

  7. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

    Matthew 7:3

  8. I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me

    Philippians 4:13

  9. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    Matthew 19:6

  10. Get thee behind me, Satan

    Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.

    Matthew 16:23

Saying still to Add

Quo Vadis

Rain on the Just and the Unjust

I am Alpha and Omega

Armageddon

The Root of all evil

Cast the first stone

Filthy Lucre

Fight the Good Fight

The weaker Vessel

A thorn in the flesh

Fallen from Grace

Cast the First Stone

Through a Glass Darkly

Beat their Swords into Plowshares

Get Thee Behind me Satan

Can the Leopard Change his Spots

Turn the Other Cheek

Set thine house in order

Be fruitful and multiply

A mess of pottage

east of Eden

The Mark of Cain

As old as Methuselah

Sold his Birthright

The fat of the land

Stranger in a strange land

A land flowing with Milk and Honey

flesh Pots

An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth

Be sure your sin will find you out

The Apple of his eye

Out of the strong came the sweetness

How are the mighty fallen

The price of wisdom is above rubies

let us eat and drink for tomorrow we will die

A voice crying in the Wilderness

they have sown the wind they shall reap the whirlwind

no peace for the wicked

a law unto himself

Famous Quotes from the Bible - Bible Quotations

  1. "A merry heart does good like a medicine; but a broken spirit dries the bones."

    Proverbs 17:22

  2. "Vanity of vanities, says the Teacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity."

    Ecclesiastes 1:2

  3. "For in much wisdom is much grief, and increase of knowledge is increase of sorrow."

    Ecclesiastes 1:18

  4. No one can serve two masters.

    Matthew 6: 24

  5. Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.

    Matthew 7:1

  6. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

    Matthew 16:23

Bible Sayings Poll

Do you read the Bible?

See results

How did this not get deleted from the bible?

And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.

Matthew 19-24

Who wrote the King James Version Bible?

  • 54 scholars, all members of the Church of England, were chosen and 47 completed the task

  • Worked in six panels, each responsible for a different part of the Bible

  • Based in Oxford (Bodlean Library) , Cambridge and London

  • Drew heavily on the work of William Tyndale, who was one of the first to translate the Bible into English from Hebrew and Greek

  • It was all at the request of King James I, who was unhappy with existing translations and regularly visited the scholars at work

Even more Expressions from the KJV Bible

  • Turned the world upside down Acts 17:6

  • God forbid Romans 3:4

  • Take root 2 Kings 19:30

  • The powers that be Romans 13:1

  • Filthy lucre 1 Timothy 3:3

  • No peace for the wicked Isaiah 57: 21

  • A fly in the ointment Ecclesiastes 10:1

  • Wheels within wheels Ezekiel 10:10

  • The blind leading the blind Matthew 15:13

  • Feet of clay Daniel 2:33

  • Refused to give up the ghost

  • The salt of the earth

  • You can't put words in my mouth

  • A law unto herself"

  • To set one's teeth on edge

What is the importance of the Bible to literature?

As said before the Bible would have been one of the few books to be found in a home for many hundreds of years, in fact if there was no Bible there was likely to be no books at all. Bibles were very common gifts or given as a reward for loyal service. So reading the Bible would be a frequent occupation for any educated person. The Old Testament in particular has many interesting and not necessarily religious stories, stories of wars, of natural disasters, of love affairs or treachery and faithfulness. So how could the bible not be an influence over nearly every author of previous centuries.

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