By Aaron Wilson
Here are nine sayings Christians often get wrong about the Bible. These aren’t heretical statements; they’re just a few clichés that could use a fact check. How many of these expressions have you heard?
1. “David killed Goliath with just a sling and a stone.”
The ending of this popular story is more graphic than most storybook Bibles suggest. Yes, David’s stone makes Goliath fall to the ground. However, 1 Samuel 17:51 suggests the killing may have resulted from the blow of the rock and David cutting off Goliath’s head with the giant’s sword.
If you think of David being a precursor to Jesus and how Christ defeated Satan through His death on the cross, there’s theologically rich foreshadowing found in David using one of the enemy’s own weapons to defeat him.
2. “When Christ returns, the lion shall lie down with the lamb.”
While lions and lambs make for good alliteration, Isaiah 11:6 actually puts a wolf and lamb side by side. There’s a lion in the passage also, but it’s paired with a cow. The grouping of animals doesn’t really affect the theology of this passage, but inserting Saint Nicholas into the mix? Now, that might be taking some liberties with the text.
3. “The last book of the Bible is Revelations.”
Unlike Psalms and Proverbs, which are collections of writings, the last book of the Bible doesn’t have a title that’s plural. Instead, the book goes by the name, Revelation (with no “s” at the end). It’s one long, connected, revelation—given from God to John on the island of Patmos.
4. “No prophet arises from Galilee.”
This phrase was uttered by the Pharisees in John 7:52 to discredit Jesus. Although the Pharisees were dead wrong about the deity of Christ, most Bible students probably assume these religious experts knew their stuff regarding the Old Testament.
However, a fact check reveals the prophet Jonah was a Galilean, coming from a small town of Gath-hepher near Nazareth (2 Kings 14:25). The Pharisees must have missed the Jonah session of their Old Testament survey class.
5. “Wise men presented gifts at Jesus’ birth.”
This one’s going to completely throw off the balance of your nativity set, but there were actually no wise men or magi giving gifts at Jesus’ birth. Rather, the wise men appeared later in the story when Jesus’ family had already moved into a house. There’s also no mention of there being only three wise men, just three categories of gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
6. “Paul wrote most of the New Testament.”
Paul may have written more books than any other New Testament writer, but by sheer word count, the honor goes to Luke whose Gospel and sequel in Acts take up the largest chunk of the New Testament. Luke was also a doctor, so it appears he kept pretty busy.
7. “Only those who trust in Christ will be resurrected from the dead.”
Christians aren’t the only ones who will be resurrected. Instead, John 5:28-29 states that all humans will be resurrected at Christ’s return. The redeemed will be resurrected to a glorious state; the lost will be resurrected to a state of ever-lasting torment. Knowing that all people will experience eternity in bodily form makes Heaven all the more desirable and Hell all the more hideous.
8. “The four Gospels record the parables of Jesus.”
Well, not all the Gospels. While the synoptic gospels—Matthew, Mark, and Luke—contain more than 35 of Jesus’ parables, you won’t find a single parable in John’s gospel.
9. “Saul became Paul at his conversion.”
The story of Saul becoming Paul makes for a popular account, but Acts 13:9 only records that Saul was also known as Paul. It doesn’t specify that these two names separated his life before and after salvation.
In fact, the name Saul is still used in Scripture after his conversion in Acts 9 and in several chapters that follow. However, it’s worth noting that the name Paul is used exclusively in all of the apostle’s epistles.
Aaron is associate editor of LifewayResearch.com.