jonah and fish

12 Things You Mistakenly Thought were in the Bible/Spiritual Meditations

You’ve heard these Bible stories and phrases so many times you accept them as authentic.  Some are fictional additions to Biblical events while others sound kind of Biblical but definitely aren’t.   See how many of these 12 things you thought were actually mentioned in the Bible.

1. An apple in the garden

While Western art has traditionally depicted the fruit Adam and Eve ate in the garden as an apple, the Bible is not that specific. Genesis 3:6 merely describes Eve eating some of the “fruit” and sharing it with Adam.


So, don’t blame the Red Delicious sitting in your fridge for the Fall. Maybe it was a lemon or a banana.

2. Three wise men

Once again, we find a specific drawn from limited information in the Bible and popularized by art. While we may sing “We Three Kings of Orient Are” at Christmas, the Bible only tells us that there were three gifts and more than one magi (Matthew 2:1-12).


Oh, and take the wise men out of your nativity scene, too. They arrived much later, when Mary, Joseph, and Jesus had already moved to a house in Bethlehem.

You may be interested in further Little Known Christmas Fun Facts.

3. A whale swallowed Jonah

Despite what Veggie Tales taught you, the Bible never says it was a whale that swallowed the runaway prophet. Jonah 1:17 says that God sent a “great fish” to take Jonah in the right direction. If a grouper can swallow a shark whole, I’m sure God could find a fish big enough for Jonah.

4. Money is the root of all evil.

Close, but the frequently quoted phrase is missing a few important words. 1 Timothy 6:10 actually says, “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil…” Money is not good or bad, and being wealthy is not a sin; Job was wealthy and described as a man who was “blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:1). Loving money, which in the Greek is “avarice” and implies an emotional affection, is the root of all sorts of evil as the desire to accumulate wealth is placed above God and others.

5. This too shall pass.

This could be a misinterpretation of a line from “The Lament of Doer,” an Old English poem. Doer has been replaced as his lord’s poet and calls to mind several other Germanic mythological figures who went through troubled times. Each refrain ends with, “that passed away, so may this.”

Several verses in the Bible remind us that our lives and, indeed, heaven and earth will pass away (Matthew 24:35). But while we can find comfort knowing that our earthly sorrows are temporary, we’re still called to rejoice in our trials, knowing that they will lead to endurance and perseverance (James 1:2-4). 

This phrase is also often confused with the phrase “it came to pass” that appears over 400 times in the King James Version or the sentiment from 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

6. Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Despite the strict rules given to the Israelites about uncleanness as a metaphor for sinfulness and ceremonial washing required by the priests (see: Exodus, Leviticus), this phrase is not in the Bible. It originated as an ancient Babylonian and Hebrew proverb but became very popular during the Victorian era after being revived by Sir Francis Bacon and John Wesley.

Is the proverb true beyond the metaphor? A new study shows that people are generally more fair and generous when in a clean-smelling environment. But Jesus also exhorts us to worry more about the sin in our hearts than the dirt on our hands (Matthew 15:16–20).

7. God works in mysterious ways.

This might be one of the most quoted sayings of all time when it comes to God.  The only problem is that it isn’t a verse in the Bible. Yes, God does work in ways we don’t understand, but this saying is most likely a simplified paraphrasing of two verses. 

Ecclesiastes 11:5 says, “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.” And Jeremiah 33:3 reads, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” In this case, it’s not that this saying is wrong, it’s simply not in the Bible. 

Isaiah 55:8-9 also reminds us that God’s ways are different from ours. But no biblical prophet ever uttered those words.

8. Love the sinner. Hate the sin.

Although this is a biblical-sounding admonition, it is not directly from the Bible. It’s a loose quote of something Mahatma Gandhi wrote in 1929, “Hate the sin and not the sinner.” Augustine expressed a similar thought back in AD 424: “With love for mankind and hatred of sins.” The biblical principle backing this up is found in Jude 1:22–23, Matthew 5:43-44, and Psalm 97:10. We are to hate sin—even our own. And we are to show love to other people.

9. Be in the world, but not of the world.

This one may surprise you, but that phrase is nowhere in the Bible. As much as you may think it’s an exact quote from the Sermon on the Mount or another verse, it’s not there. Parts of the sentiment are, however, expressed in various places in Scripture (John 15:19, John 17:14-15Romans 12:1-2). Just don’t try to find that word-for-word as a verse in your Bible.

10. God will not give you more than you can handle.

I think we’ve all said this at one time or another, primarily to comfort another believer or even an unbeliever who is struggling with something or fearful that something bad might happen. But this verse does not exist. And this statement doesn’t hold true. God will often give us more than we can handle so that we will depend on Him to carry the burden for us. You find countless cases where someone faced something they couldn’t handle—but God could and did. If we could handle everything that came our way, we could take care of our sin problem. But we couldn’t and we can’t. That’s why we needed (and continually need) Jesus.

Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV), and Matthew 11:28-30 tells us to come to Him when we are weary and take His yoke upon us so we can bear a load that is too heavy to lift ourselves. 

I believe we get the idea that God won’t give us more than we can bear from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which tells us “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” That verse tells us God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to resist. But He will allow us to struggle beyond our capacity in other aspects of life so we understand what it means to surrender and allow Him to carry the burden for us.

11. God helps those who help themselves.

I’m sure you’ve heard it and possibly even said it to encourage someone to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get it done. But this verse is not in the Bible. And its premise is not true. To the contrary, God helps those who admit they can’t help themselves. 

Where does the phrase come from? Variations are proverbial statements in ancient Greek tragedies. The earliest recording of this saying is from Aesop’s fable “Hercules and the Waggoner.” A man’s wagon got stuck in a muddy road, and he prayed for Hercules to help. Hercules appeared and said, “Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel.” The moral given was “The gods help them that help themselves.” Aesop was a Greek writer who lived from 620 to 564 BC, but obviously did not contribute to the Bible.

The Quran (13:11) has something similar and an English politician gave us the exact wording, which Benjamin Franklin quotes in Poor Richard’s Almanac

Scripture is loaded with examples of God calling weak, humble people who would have been inadequate for the Lord’s work without His enabling strength. Scripture says that Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness. And Paul states “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV). 

The message of Romans 5:8 is the exact opposite. While we were still sinners and unable to help ourselves, Christ died for us—proving how much God loves us, how amazing grace is, and how incapable of helping ourselves we truly are.

Furthermore, James 4:10 tells us “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” If God helped those who helped themselves, that verse would read: “Show yourself capable and God will come along and help.” Many times those of us who believe we can help ourselves don’t feel we need God and therefore, we don’t rely on Him. God wants us to admit we’re helpless so we can start depending on His strength to get us through situations. That is faith. 

12. The lion shall lay down with the lamb

This phrase does not appear in the Bible. Isaiah 11:6 says, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.” Similarly, Isaiah 65:25 reads, “The wolf and the lamb will graze together and the lion will eat straw like an ox…” The sentiment reads true, however—hunter and prey will be reconciled and live in peace in the eternal kingdom.

Conclusion

God left us the Bible as a written testimony of His Word. His truth is found in the Bible. Some sayings are simple rewordings of biblical truth, but others contradict Jesus’ teaching. Despite how clever or even edifying a quote may be, if it isn’t in the Bible, we have no guarantee that it is the Word of God. And the only way we’ll know is if we read the Bible.

References

What are the most common things people think are in the Bible that are not actually in the Bible? | GotQuestions.org

5 Things You Won’t Believe Are NOT in the Bible – Bible Study (crosswalk.com)

11 Things You Think Are in the Bible, but Really Aren’t by Aaron Earls

What Did Jesus Look Like? / Spiritual Meditation

Jesus Christ is one of the most painted figures in Western art. But what do we really know about his appearance?

Visions of Jesus

Two friends have seen visions of Jesus, one during a coma, the other in an awakened state.  Their descriptions indicate that Jesus was surrounded by a very bright light and had white shining hair and clothing.  He was seen to smile and have compassionate eyes.  One friend, Matthew, said Jesus was much like what is described in the book of Revelation with bronze feet and hands.  You can watch his full testimony at

A Testimony – Witnessing Jesus Face to Face – YouTube.

A description of my friend Timothy’s vision is described in

India Pilgrimage Yields Vision of Jesus.       

Although, most of us will not see Jesus until we enter the pearly gates, Sarah Pruitt shares with us how history and archeology portray Jesus.

For centuries, the most common Western image of Jesus has been that of a bearded, fair-skinned man with long, wavy, light brown or blond hair and (often) blue eyes. But the Bible doesn’t describe Jesus physically, and all the evidence we have indicates he probably looked very different from this portrayal.

What Does the Bible Say About Jesus’ appearance?

The Bible says little about Christ’s physical appearance. Most of what we know about Jesus comes from the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Because Jesus was a Jewish man born in Bethlehem and raised in the town of Nazareth during the first century A.D., we can assume that he looked like a Jewish Galilean of that time.

We know Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23), but the Bible tells us virtually nothing about what he looked like―except that he didn’t stand out in any particular way. When Jesus was apprehended in the garden of Gethsemane before the Crucifixion (Matthew 26:47-56), Judas Iscariot had to point him out to the arresting soldiers, as he was indistinguishable from the disciples―presumably because they all appeared similar to each other.

For some scholars, Revelation 1:14-15 offers a clue that Jesus’s skin was a darker hue and that his hair was woolly in texture. The hairs of his head, it says, “were white as white wool, white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace.”

How Have Depictions of Jesus Changed Over the Centuries?

Some of the earliest known artistic representations of Jesus date to the mid-third century A.D., more than two centuries after his death. These are the paintings in the ancient catacombs of St. Domitilla in Rome, first discovered some 400 years ago. Reflecting one of the most common images of Jesus at the time, the paintings depict Jesus as the Good Shepherd, a young, short-haired, beardless man with a lamb around his shoulders.

The restored fresco depicting Jesus and his apostles in the Roman catacomb of Santa Domitilla. (Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images)

Another early portrait of Jesus was discovered in 2018 on the walls of a ruined church in southern Israel. Painted in the sixth century A.D., it is the earliest known image of Christ found in Israel, Though exposure to the sun over centuries has reduced the image found in the ancient village of Shivta to little more than faint outlines and smudges of color, discoverer and art historian Maayan-Fanar describe the image as a young man with “short curly hair, a prolonged face, large eyes and an elongated nose.” a depiction that was common to the eastern region of the Byzantine empire―especially in Egypt and the Syria-Palestine region―but disappeared from later Byzantine art.

The long-haired, bearded image of Jesus that emerged beginning in the fourth century A.D. was influenced heavily by representations of Greek and Roman gods, particularly the all-powerful Greek god Zeus. At that point, Jesus started to appear in a long robe, seated on a throne (such as in the fifth-century mosaic on the altar of the Santa Pudenziana church in Rome), sometimes with a halo surrounding his head.

“The point of these images was never to show Jesus as a man, but to make theological points about who Jesus was as Christ (King, Judge) and divine Son,” Joan Taylor, professor of Christian origins and second temple Judaism at King’s College London, wrote in The Irish Times. “They have evolved over time to the standard ‘Jesus’ we recognize.”

Of course, not all images of Jesus conform to the dominant image of him portrayed in Western art. In fact, many different cultures around the world have depicted him, visually at least, as one of their own. “Cultures tend to portray prominent religious figures to look like the dominant racial identity,” explains Robert Cargill, assistant professor of classics and religious studies at the University of Iowa and editor of Biblical Archaeology Review.

What Is the Shroud of Turin?

Of the many possible relics related to Jesus that have surfaced over the centuries, one of the most well-known is the Shroud of Turin, which surfaced in 1354. Believers argued that Jesus was wrapped in the piece of linen after he was crucified, and that the shroud bears the clear image of his face. But many experts have dismissed the shroud as a fake, and the Vatican itself refers to it as an “icon” rather than a relic.

A negative image of the Shroud of Turin.  (Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

“The Shroud of Turin has been debunked on a couple of occasions as a medieval forgery,” says Cargill, “It’s part of a larger phenomenon that has been around since Jesus himself, of attempting to acquire and, if they can’t be acquired, to produce, objects that are part of Jesus’ body, life and ministry—for the purposes of either legitimizing his existence and the claims made about him, or in some cases, harnessing his miraculous powers.”

What Research and Science Tell Us About What Jesus Looked Like

In 2001, the retired medical artist Richard Neave led a team of Israeli and British forensic anthropologists and computer programmers in creating a new image of Jesus, based on an Israeli skull dating to the first century A.D., computer modeling and their knowledge of what Jewish people looked like at the time. Though no one claims it’s an exact reconstruction of what Jesus himself actually looked like, scholars consider this image—around five feet tall, with darker skin, dark eyes, and shorter, curlier hair—to be more accurate than many artistic depictions of the son of God.

In her 2018 book What Did Jesus Look Like?, Taylor used archaeological remains, historical texts and ancient Egyptian funerary art to conclude that, like most people in Judea and Egypt around the time, Jesus most likely had brown eyes, dark brown to black hair and olive-brown skin. He may have stood about 5-ft.-5-in. (166 cm) tall, the average man’s height at the time.

Conclusion

While Cargill agrees that these more recent images of Jesus—including darker, perhaps curlier hair, darker skin and dark eyes—probably come closer to the truth, he stresses that we can never really know exactly what Jesus looked like.

“What did Jewish Galileans look like 2,000 years ago?” he asks. “That’s the question. They probably didn’t have blue eyes and blond hair.”

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Relevant Scripture

The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. (Rev 1:14-15)

References

The Ongoing Mystery of Jesus’s Face by Sarah Pruitt What Did Jesus Look Like? – HISTORY