Some funny (and sometimes not so funny) things folks think are in the Bible but aren’t, plus what’s really in there.

“My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure.” This lovely assertion actually comes from “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” although a sincere theologian could argue that the thought is biblical. Here’s your New Testament quote: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

“The Lord helps those who help themselves.” Cover to cover, the basic biblical idea seems to be exactly the opposite: God does for and with us what we cannot do by ourselves. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

“Money is the root of all evil.” This is closer to the doctrine of Karl Marx than the Jewish and Christian scriptures.. Here’s the precise quote: “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). And here’s Jesus, for good measure: “You cannot serve both God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

“You should hate the sin but love the sinner.” That’s no where in the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament, probably because so few of us can keep from mixing up those two things.

“God will never give you more than you can handle.” Every Bible adventurer had more than she or he could handle from time to time. Here’s the Bible verse the above misquotation references, plus a little more for context: “You are tempted in the same way everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted to not let you be tempted too much, and will show you how to escape from your temptations” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

“Three wise men visited Jesus.” Matthew 2 states only that “magi from the East came to worship him” and brought three gifts, which is presumably where the tradition of three visitors started. As a wise old church member once said, though: “Not very wise men, if only three made that long trip all by themselves.”

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.

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