“This too shall pass” — not Biblical — our source of comfort in difficult times should be the Eternal, not the awareness of transience, as “this too shall pass” seems to suggest. — Jay Aptaker







The “This Too Shall Pass” Bible Verse & Other Non-Bible-Verses

There are a good number of common phrases and sayings in use today that people mistakenly attribute to the Bible. I will discuss four of the major ones, including the “this too shall pass Bible verse”.  More important, I think, than knowing where these quotes actually came from, is knowing that they did not come from the Bible. The reason for this is clear: each of these common sayings expresses something which falls far short of the true depth of spiritual wisdom in the Bible. Thus, in popular thought, the Bible becomes considerably more shallow than it actually is.

Quotes of Note: Brilliant Thoughts Arranged by Subject

This Too Shall Pass “Bible Verse”

I was quite surprised when I found out that many, many people apparently think that the saying, “this too shall pass”, is a Bible verse. It certainly does not come from the Bible. It seems to come from the Sufis: Muslim mystics. The saying certainly does express a considerable amount of wisdom, along the lines of Heraclitus, saying that “all is flux”. But while the Bible consistently acknowledges the transience of things on our plane, it also consistently sets this transience in stark juxtaposition to the Eternal. Our source of comfort in difficult times should be the Eternal, not the awareness of transience, as “this too shall pass” seems to suggest.

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God Helps Those Who Help Themselves “Bible Verse”

This saying came from Algernon Sydney, and was later used by Benjamin Franklin. Although it certainly may sound good, it also runs contrary to a lot of actual Biblical wisdom that expresses a different concept: God helps people regardless of anything they may or may not have done to help themselves. In fact, according to one line of thinking, it is impossible for a person to “help themselves”, as all good things (even things like faith, virtue, and effort) come as free gifts from God alone. They are not earned.

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness “Bible Verse”

Forms of this idea can be found in some ancient Jewish writings (not the Bible), Francis Bacon, and John Wesley. But there is no bible verse even remotely similar to this phrase. Furthermore, scientific studies have repeatedly failed to demonstrate any statistically significant correlation between cleanliness and godliness.

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 kinds of 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, can not 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. And even this unbalanced craving is not a cause of “all evil”, but of “all kinds of evil”. This makes more sense as well. There are kinds of evil that are clearly not caused by greed, but there are also all kinds of evil that are caused by greed.

If you’re enjoying my writing in this article, please take a moment to look at some of my short poems: click here. This opens in a new window, so you won’t lose the article you’re currently reading.


I’ll leave my inquiry with only those four sayings, because they are widely used, very often mistaken for Bible quotes, and fall wide of anything actually said by the Bible. Thus, they significantly distort the popular conception of the Bible.





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