Several members of our Adult Bible study asked: "Is 'for unto whom much is given, much shall be required' in the Bible?" The question was motivated by a politician who commenting on President Obama's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast said: "Now I've read the Bible, and I must have missed that passage." You may read the quotation in Luke 12: 48 and the context for the quotation is Luke 12:36-48.
A week after a discussion on this passage and the concept of "giving" in the book of Luke, a student asked another question based on a politician's statement. The statement was: "Jesus was not interested in social justice and was all about self-reliance, Jesus taught: 'give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life.'" Of course that famous aphorism is not in the Bible. If it were in the Bible, it would make pretty odd the miracle of Jesus multiplying the five loaves and two fish for five thousand men plus women and children (Lk. 9:12-17). By the way this phrase is attributed to Lao Tzu (1100 B.C.).
And this week there was another comical misquote as a politician said: "Jesus taught: 'God helps those who help themselves,'" This common phrase does not appear in the Bible either. It can be traced back to Ancient Greece where it appears in the works of Euripides. The above quote was put in its form by Ben Franklin who wrote it in "Poor Richard's Almanack."
Franklin's wisdom is not only not Biblical; it's counter-Biblical. Few ideas could be further from the Gospel message of grace and agape. To say this is Biblical is like having 75 percent of American scientists say that they believe that Newton proved gravity causes apples to fly up. I used the 75 percent number because sadly 75 percent of Americans agree with this politician that the phrase is found in the Bible.
Here are the top five phrases that these 75 percent believe are in the Bible that aren't:
1) "Pride comes before the fall."
2) "Charity begins at home."
3) "To thine own self be true."
4) "Cleanliness is next to godliness."
5) "God helps those who help themselves."
Perhaps it is time for Christians to spend less time pontificating and more time in Bible study "searching the scriptures for in them are the words of eternal life" (Jn. 5:39).