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Phrases And Concepts From The Bible That Most People Get Wrong

List RulesVote up the passages you really thought were in the Bible.

The Bible is the most widely purchased and read book in the world. It's been around for 2,000 years, so many people have grown to believe that certain popular phrases and idioms are derived from its pages. However, many biblical truths and sayings are not from the Bible at all. Many are paraphrased from actual Bible passages, some are concepts that are talked about in the book but never literally said, and a few of them are derived from non-biblical writings.

While the Bible has many unbelievable and often controversial stories and passages, sometimes it's the other way around. Something Ben Franklin said sounded so biblical that famous politicians and athletes have been misattributing it ever since. Read on to learn the phrases and concepts many believe are in the Bible but actually aren't.

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  • Photo: Caravaggio / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
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    The Bible Never Says Mary Magdalene Was A Sex Worker

    Mary Magdalene is a popular biblical figure who is often misjudged and merged with the stories of other New Testament women. Have you ever heard anyone say something along the lines of, "Jesus loved everyone! He hung out with prostitutes!"

    While Jesus may have befriended sex workers, nothing in the Bible states Mary Magdalene was one. Mary Magdalene was an incredibly important figure in the New Testament. She was present at the most important moments of Jesus's journey, including his sermons and crucifixion. She helped carry him to the tomb and was the one who revisited the tomb three days later to find it empty. That makes her the discoverer of the most important aspect of Christianity: Jesus's Resurrection. 

    Nothing in the Bible claims Mary is or ever was a sex worker. There was a moment where a woman washes Jesus's feet with oils and begs for forgiveness for her sins. That woman is never identified as Mary Magdalene, but in the Middle Ages, the church took the liberty of labeling her as such. This could be attributed to the fact that the church wanted to provide an explanation for why a woman was one of Jesus's closest friends. They wanted to provide a reason for her dedication to Jesus in the hopes of leading other women "living in sin" to do the same. 

    Mary Magdalene then became the Patron Saint of Repentant Prostitutes, and there were even 18th-century recovery homes for former sex workers called Magdelene Houses. The Vatican didn't correct this fallacy until 1969. By then, the idea of Mary Magdalene as a former sex worker was deeply embedded in the Christian canon. 

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    Wise Men Brought Baby Jesus Three Gifts, But That Doesn’t Necessarily Mean There Were Three Of Them

    Picture any Nativity scene, and what do you see? Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus, surrounded by farm animals and three wise men, maybe a few angels thrown in to add pizazz. When we examine Matthew 2:1-12, which tells the story of the Magi, the number three is never mentioned:

    After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

    At the end of the passage, it is mentioned that the Magi brought Jesus three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  

    The idea of Three Wise Men likely came from the association of the three gifts that were brought. Since it was never specified in the Bible, there theoretically could've been two Magi bringing three gifts, or 50 Magi bringing three gifts. 

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  • Photo: Pieter Lastman / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
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    207 VOTES

    The Bible Never Says Jonah Was Swallowed By A Whale, Only A Giant Fish

    When most people hear the name Jonah, they think of a whale. The Old Testament story is in the Book of Jonah, following the life of the prophet. While most retellings say a whale swallowed Jonah, the actual story in the Bible calls the creature who ate Jonah a "great fish." 

    How this fish turned into a whale is a mystery. The moral of the story is that Jonah remained alive inside the giant fish's belly, and upon praying to be saved, was vomited out. 

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    383 VOTES

    'Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child' Is A Paraphrase Of Proverbs 13:24

    Many parents have used this phrase to justify hitting children to avoid spoiling them, but it turns out that this isn't an exact quote at all. "Spare the rod, spoil the child" was first mentioned in the poem "Hudibras" by Samuel Butler in the 1600s.

    While this exact phrase is never said in the Bible, it was derived from an actual passage: Proverbs 13:24, which reads:

    Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
    but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

    While a rod is mentioned in regards to children, there is nowhere in the Bible where corporal punishment is encouraged. The rod referenced in this passage points to the rod a shepherd uses to guide his sheep.

    The interpretation of this passage that is closest to reality at the time it was written would be about giving children guidance.

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