17 Things People Claim Are in the Bible But They Aren’t

Throughout your life, you’ve likely heard countless Biblical stories at school, church, or home—many of which you may even use yourself. However, there are several things that the general Christian population believes that are not actually written. In this article, we’ll uncover 17 stories and phrases that people believe are in the Bible but aren’t.

Adam and Eve Eating an Apple

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It may be surprising to some that, while the Bible does mention a fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, it doesn’t specify it as an apple. In actuality, the apple interpretation is influenced by Western art and translations like the King James Version. Other interpretations suggest different fruits, such as grapes or figs, as shared by Live Science.

“God Helps Those Who Help Themselves”

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This phrase is commonly attributed to the Bible but is actually not found in it at all. While it’s often mistaken for biblical wisdom, the phrase actually originates from other literary sources, many of which have used it. The Bible instead emphasizes trust in God rather than self-reliance.

Jesus Being Born in a Stable

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It’s correct that the Bible mentions Jesus being laid in a manger, but it never specifies that this happens in a stable. In fact, early Christian tradition and some biblical texts suggest different birthplaces. The stable image and classic nativity scene are simply a result of artistic interpretation and tradition.

Appearance of Angels

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The common depiction of angels as beautiful, winged beings is not detailed in the Bible. In fact, biblical descriptions of angels vary and are often more symbolic. According to Christianity, “As we see in Scripture, angels can sometimes appear as humans, to the point where we may not even recognize that we’ve served an angel. Other times, the prophet attempts to describe angels through a series of images, including wheels covered in eyes.”

The Three Wise Men

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This one may surprise you: the Bible mentions wise men visiting Jesus but doesn’t specify the number as three. The number three is inferred from the gifts mentioned—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Different Christian traditions have varied accounts regarding the number of wise men who visited.

“Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child”

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This saying is often used to justify physical discipline for children, but it is not a direct biblical command. While the proverbs do mention discipline, they don’t specifically endorse physical punishment. The phrase is simply a misinterpretation of biblical teachings on child-rearing.

“Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness”

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This is another popular saying often attributed to the Bible that doesn’t actually appear in the text. According to Learn Religions, “John Wesley, co-founder of Methodism, may have been the inventor of the phrase ‘cleanliness is next to godliness.’ He often emphasized cleanliness in his preaching.” While the saying reflects a moral value, it is not a scriptural principle.

“God Works in Mysterious Ways”

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Once again, while the Bible does discuss the mystery of God’s plans, this exact phrase is not found. The concept is, however, said to be loosely based on scriptures like Isaiah 55:8–9. The actual saying itself is a modern phrase encapsulating the unpredictability of God’s actions.

Women Can’t Be Pastors

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There are individuals who interpret certain Pauline texts to prohibit women from taking roles in church leadership. However, the Bible does not categorically ban women from pastoral roles. In fact, notable biblical figures like Phoebe suggest a more inclusive view.

“God Loves You and Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life”

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This is another phrase commonly used in evangelism that is not a direct biblical quote. It reflects the general biblical theme of God’s love but oversimplifies His plans. The phrase can also mislead people to expect problem-free lives upon embracing faith.

“Money Cometh to Me Now”

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This is a phrase popularized by certain preachers but is not found in the Bible. In actuality, it misrepresents the biblical view of wealth and prosperity. The Bible advises caution and responsibility regarding money, contrary to this phrase.

“Blessed and Highly Favored”

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This is a lovely, positive affirmation, but unfortunately, it is not a direct biblical quotation. It misconstrues the biblical concept of blessing and favor. As shared by CrossWalk, “We can all receive favor from God, and we often do. However, only one person can claim the distinction of ‘highly favored’ and that is Mary.”

“Touch Your Neighbor”

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“Touch your neighbor” is another phrase often heard in sermons that is not a biblical command or saying. It reflects a cultural practice in churches rather than a scriptural directive. The Bible emphasizes loving and helping neighbors, not literal physical contact.

Violent Depictions of Jesus

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Some people believe in a violent, revengeful Jesus, but this contradicts biblical descriptions. In the Bible, Jesus is portrayed as compassionate and non-violent. Misinterpretations arise from selective readings and cultural influences.

“God Works in Mysterious Ways”

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This phrase is frequently used to explain unexpected or challenging events as part of a divine plan. While the sentiment may align with certain biblical teachings, the exact wording is not found in the Bible. It’s just a catchy way of acknowledging the complexities of faith and life.

“Pride Comes Before the Fall”

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The actual biblical verse, Proverbs 16:18, states, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” The common misquote simplifies and slightly alters the original scripture. The actual verse warns about the dangers of pride leading to one’s downfall, but the phraseology “before the fall” is not exact​.

“God Never Gives Us More Than We Can Handle”

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This statement is often used to provide comfort, but it is not a direct biblical quote. The closest biblical reference is 1 Corinthians 10:13, which discusses God providing a way to endure temptations, not life’s burdens. The Bible indicates that life can present overwhelming challenges, but God’s support and presence help believers endure​.

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