12 Things People Think Are In The Bible, But Really Aren’t


1. “… don’t throw stones in glass houses …”
President Barack Obama used this at a speech where he was making his case for immigration reform. Its actual origin goes back to the days of Shakespeare, and has been stated in a number of different ways. However, there is no Bible verse that states this.

2. “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”
Though this sounds much like a quote from the book of Proverbs, its known origin dates back to 1377 and is considered to be based on Proverbs 13:24, but does not appear in the Bible. William Langland’s The vision of William concerning Piers Plowman is the earliest recorded source of the adage.

3. Jonah swallowed by a whale
This is one of the more controversial interpretations of the Bible, since the Old Testament book of Jonah states that a “great fish” swallowed Jonah. Yet in the New Testament book of Matthew it says he was “three days and three nights in the whale’s belly.” Neither the Hebrew language (Old Testament) nor the Green language (New Testament) had a word specific enough to clearly identify the sea creature that swallowed Jonah. It may have been a creature that has since been extinct.

4. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop
This is another quote that is traced back to the time of Geoffrey Chaucer, who lived in the 12th century C.E. The phrase does occur in The Living Bible, but it is important to understand that this is a paraphrase and not an actual translation of the original Biblical text.

5. To err is human, to forgive, divine.
his is a quote from the poet Alexander Pope written in the 18th century in his work, An Essay on Criticism, Part II, in 1711. The actual quote is, “To err is Humane; to Forgive, Divine.” Back in the time of Pope, the words “humane” and “human” were understood to be interchangeable.

6. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Though this has a significant amount of truth to it, it is not found in the Bible. Playwright William Congreave for his play The Mourning Bride wrote the line, in 1697. The line is about a woman’s love being betrayed through a web of lies and deceit.

7. Two of every kind of animal went on Noah’s ark
This is the result of things we were taught as children and is continued to be reinforced through modern culture. The Bible text in Genesis says, “Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.” The idea of twos is pairs able to reproduce the species. Noah was instructed to take seven (pairs) of the clean animals and four (pairs) of the unclean. So while the animals boarded in pairs, there were more than two of each species that went onto the ark.

8. There are three wise men in the Christmas story
There is no specific number of wise men, or magi, that went to visit the baby Jesus. A number of theories came about why there are three, among the most popular being that there were three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh) so each magi presented one of the gifts. But the wise men were not even wise men, but more likely to be astrologers.

9. The Wedding Vows
Although the movies usually present a pastor or justice of the peace apparently reading from the Bible when two people get married, there is no such text found in the Bible. The vows themselves are a product of Christian traditions over the years, and are based on certain parts of the Bible.

10. Moderation in all things
We finally move away from crediting English playwrights and poets with Biblical quotes and arrive at a Greek philosopher. Aristotle is the one who actually wrote this piece of worldly living in his Nicomachean Ethics treatise, Doctrine of the Mean, where the focus is finding the middle ground between excess and insufficiency.

11. A fool and his money are soon parted.
Though this sounds like a great Biblical proverb, nothing close to it is found in the Bible. Once again this was an English poet, but Thomas Tusser was also a farmer. The saying is a variation of a verse from his 1573 work, Five Hundreth Pointes of Good Husbandrie.

12. God helps those who help themselves
This is the basis of more than one conservative political philosophy, but can be traced back as far as the Greek writer Aeschylus who lived around the 6th century BCE. It was included in Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac and has become a part of American cultural thought.