Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Every Christmas, I get tickled at how theological "guesses" in the lyrics of our Christmas Carols have come to be accepted as biblical truth.  For instance, in We Three Kings, the writer's assumption that since there were three gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matt. 2:11),  then there had to be three kings.  In It Came Upon A Midnight Clear, the angels are said to be "touching their harps of gold."  The Bible does not mention that it was midnight, nor does it mention that the angels had harps.

In the second verse of  O Holy Night, while the writer is more accurate in calling them "wisemen" μάγος (magos), rather than "kings" βασιλεύς (basileus), he has them showing up at the manger scene.  There is significant evidence that their arrival was about a year after Christ's birth.  First, in Matthew 2:11, they entered the "οἰκία" (oikia), translated "house" ninety-two times in the New Testament.  Secondly, when Herod wanted to make certain that the Child was killed, he commanded that every male child "from two years old and under," be put to death (Matt. 2:16).  If Jesus had just been born, he needed only have newborns killed.  Thirdly, when the shepherds see Jesus, He is said to be a βρέφος (brephos), a "baby" (Lk. 2:16), but when the wisemen get there (Matt. 2:16), He is said to be a παιδίον (paidion), a young child.

Just as believers tend to accept hymns and carols as being biblical, we tend to attribute everyday idioms as being found in the Bible.  While it is often true that they have their basis in the Word of God, they, themselves, are not Scripture.  For example, "spare the rod; spoil the child" is not a Bible quote, and yet its truth is based upon Proverbs 23:12-14.  "Moderation in all things" is not a quote, but it is based upon Philippians 4:5.  The same is true of "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  However, it is clearly taught in Matthew 7:12.  "God works in mysterious ways" is based upon Deuteronomy 29:29.  "The eye is the window to the soul" can be supported from Matthew 6:22. 

"To thine ownself be true" is from Shakespeare and not the Bible; in fact, it is the opposite of biblical teaching.  Man is incapable of living the Christian life without being true to the Lord; man's ways are not God's ways (Isa. 55:8).  "God helps those who help themselves" is also contrary to the Bible's teaching that man is both helpless and hopeless without God (Heb. 11:6).

The oft preached "the lion shall lay down with the lamb," is unbiblical.  The Word says "the wolf will lay down with the lamb" and "the calf with the lion" (Isa. 11:6; 65:25).  And the famous "money is the root of all evil" should say, "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:10).  Otherwise, would the Lord demand a tithe of one's income?  Certainly not.

While many common sayings are filled with wisdom, 
only God's Word is filled with truth.


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