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Introduction

Many common everyday expressions were constructed by William Tyndale (1496-1534) in his English translation of the Bible. The term Tyndale’s Bible is not strictly correct, because Tyndale never published a complete Bible. That task was completed by Miles Coverdale, who supplemented Tyndale’s translations with his own to produce the first complete printed Bible in English in 1535. Before his execution for translating the Bible into English, Tyndale had translated the New Testament, the Pentateuch, and the historical books of the Old Testament. Of the Old Testament books, the Pentateuch, Jonah, and a revised version of Genesis were published during Tyndale’s lifetime. His other Old Testament works were first used in the creation of the Matthew Bible and also greatly influenced subsequent English translations of the Bible.[1]

137 Everyday expressions are given below. They are arranged in common expression, the earliest Bible containing that expression[2] and the chapter and verse of the expression. The order in which the English Bibles were produced can be found here 

Common expressions

A broken heart. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Psalms 34:18 – The LORD [is] nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

A cross to bear. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Luke 14:27 – And whosoever beare not his crosse and come after me cannot be my disciple.

A drop in the bucket. (KJV) Isaiah 40:15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing.

A fly in the ointment.  (KJV) Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.

A person is known by the company he keeps. (KJV), Job 34:8 – Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men.

A graven image. (KJV), Deuteronomy 5:8 – Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth.

A house divided against itself cannot stand. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 12:25 But Iesus knewe their thoughtes and sayde to the. Every kingdome devided wt in it sylfe shalbe brought to naught. Nether shall eny cite or housholde devyded agest it sylfe cotynue.

A labour of love. (KJV) 1 Thessalonians 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

A law unto themselves. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Romans 2:14 – For if the gentyls which have no lawe do of nature the thynges contayned in the lawe: then they havynge no lawe are a lawe vnto them selves

A leopard cannot change its spots. (KJV), Jeremiah 13:23 – Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

A man after his own heart (KJV), 1 Samuel 13:14 – But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. Acts 13:22 – And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.

A millstone around his neck (The Wycliffe Bible, 1382-1395) Matthew 18:6: It spedith to hym that a mylnestoon of assis be hangid in his necke and be drenchid in to the depnesse of the see.

A multitude of sins. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), James 5:20 – Let ye same knowe that he which conuerted the synner from goynge astraye out off his waye, shal saue a soule fro death, and shal hyde the multitude of synnes.

A nest of vipers. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), William Tyndale used ‘vipers’ as a figurative insult in his 1526 Bible, in Matthew 3;7 – He sayde vnto them: O generacion of vipers, who hath taught you to fle from the vengeaunce to come?

A peace offering. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Exodus 24:5 – ad sent yonge men of the childern of Israel to sacryfyce burntoffrynges ad to offre peaceoffrynges of oxen vnto the Lorde.

A sign of the times. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 16:3 – and in the morninge ye saye to daye shalbe foule wedder and that because the skye is cloudy and reed. O ye ypocrites ye can discerne ye fassion of the skye: and can ye not discerne ye signes of the tymes?

A thorn in the flesh. (KJV), 2 Corinthians 12:7): And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

A two-edge sword. (KJV), Proverbs 5:4 – But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.

A voice crying in the wilderness. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), John 1:23 – He sayde: I am the voyce of a cryar in the wyldernes make strayght the waye of the Lorde as sayde the Prophete Esaias.

A man is known by the company he keeps. (KJV), Proverbs 13:20 – He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

All things to all men.  (KJV) 1 Corinthians 9:22 – To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made All things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

Am I my brother’s keeper? (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Genesis 4:9 – And ye LORde sayd vnto Cain: where is Abell thy brother? And he sayd: I can not tell am I my brothers keper?

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 5:38 – Ye have hearde how it ys sayd an eye for an eye: a tothe for a tothe.

As old as Methuselah. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535) – Genesis 5:25 – Mathusalah was an uhdreth & seue and foure score yeare olde , & begat Lamech:

As old as the hills.  (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), 1535 Job 15:7. It was alluded to in – Art thou the first man, that euer was borne? Or, wast thou made before the hylles?

As white as snow. (KJV 1611), Daniel 7:9 – I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

As you sow so shall you reap. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceaved God is not mocked. For what soever a man soweth yt shall he reepe.

Ashes to ashes dust to dust. (KJV) Genesis 3:19 – In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

At one’s wit’s end. (KJV) Psalms 107:27 – They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.

Baptism of fire. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 3:11 – I baptise you in water in toke of repentauce: but he ye cometh after me is myghtier then I whose shues I am not worthy to beare. He shall baptise you with ye holy gost and with fyre:

Be fruitful and multiply (KJV), Genesis 1:22 – And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

Beat swords into ploughshares. (KJV) Isaiah 2:4 – They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Bite the dust. (KJV 1611), Isaiah Psalms 72:9 – They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him and his enemies shall lick the dust.

Blessed are the peacemakers. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 5:9 – Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shalbe called the chyldren of God.

Born again. (KJV), John 3:3 – Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Breath of life. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Genesis 2:7 – Then the LORde God shope man even of the moulde of the erth and brethed into his face the breth of lyfe. So man was made a lyvynge soule..

By the skin of your teeth. (Geneva Bible, 1560) Job 19:20 – I haue escaped with the skinne of my tethe.

By the sweat of your brow. (KJV), Genesis 3:19 – In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Can a leopard change its spots? (KJV) Jeremiah 13:23 – Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Cast bread upon the waters. (KJV), Ecclesiastes 11:1 – Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

Cast the first stone. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), John 8:7 – Now whyle they contynued axynge him, he lift him self vp, and sayde vnto them: He that is amonge you without synne, let him cast the first stone at her.

Charity begins at home. (The Wycliffe Bible, 1382-1395) 1 Timothy 5:8 – Charite schuld bigyne at hem-self.

Coat of many colours. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Genesis 37:3 – And Israel loued Ioseph more than all his childern because he begat hym in his olde age and he made him a coote of many coloures.

Don’t cast your pearls before swine. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 7:6 – Nether caste ye youre pearles before swyne.

Dust to dust. (KJV), Genesis 3:19 – In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Eat drink and be merry. (KJV), Ecclesiastes 8:15 – To eat, and to drink, and to be merry.

Eye to eye tooth for tooth. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Exodus 21:24 – eye for eye, toth for toth, hande for hande, fote for fote,

Faith will move mountains. (Rheims Bible 1582), Matthew 21:21 – If you shal haue faith, and stagger not, … and if you shal say to this mountaine, Take vp and throw thy self into the sea, it shal be done.

Fall from grace. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Galatians 5:4 – Ye are gone quyte fro Christ as many as are iustified by the lawe and are fallen from grace.

Fat of the land. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Genesis 45:18 – take youre father and youre housholdes and come vnto me and I will geue you the beste of the lande of Egipte and ye shall eate the fatt of the londe..

Feet of clay. (KJV), Daniel 2: 31-33 – His legs of iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay.

Fight the good fight. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), 1 Timothy 6.12 – Fyght ye good fyght of fayth. Laye honde on eternall lyfe where vnto thou arte called and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

Brimestone and fire. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534, Genesis 19: 24 – Than the LORde rayned vpon Sodome and Gomorra brymstone and fyre from the LORde out of heaven.

Flesh and blood. (Anglo-Saxon Gospels circa 1000), Matthew 16:17 – Hit ye ne onwreah flaesc ne blod.

For everything there is a season. (KJV), Ecclesiastes 3:1 – To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Forgive them for they know not what they do. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Luke 23:34 – But Iesus sayde: Father, forgeue them, for they wote not what they do.

From strength to strength. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Psalms 84:7 – They go from strength to strength and so the God of Gods apeareth vnto the in Sion.

Get thee behind me Satan. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Luke 4:8 – Iesus answered him, and sayde: Auoyde fro me thou Satan. It is wrytten: Thou shalt worshippe the LORDE thy God, and him onely shalt thou serue.

Gird your loins. (KJV), 1 Kings 18:46 – And the hand of the Lord was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

Give up the ghost. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Acts 12:23 – Immediatly the angell of the LORDE smote him, because he gaue not God the honoure: And he was eaten vp of wormes, and gaue vp the goost.

Go the extra mile. (KJV), Matthew 5:41 – And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Good Samaritan. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Luke 10:30:33 – But a Samaritane was goynge his iourney, and came that waye, and whan he sawe him, he had compassion vpon him,

Harden his heart. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Exodus 4:21 – And the Lorde sayde vnto Moses: when thou art come in to Egipte agayne, se that thou doo all the wondres before Pharao which I haue put in thy hande: but I will harden his herte, so that he shall not let the people goo

He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 26:52 – hen sayde Iesus vnto him: put vp thy swearde into his sheathe. For all that ley hond on ye swearde shall perisshe with ye swearde.

Heart’s desire. (KJV), Psalms 21:2 – Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips.

Holier than thou. (KJV), Isaiah 65:5 – Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

How are the mighty fallen. (Great Bible,1539), Samuel 1:19, – Oh howe are the myghtie ouerthrowen.

In the twinkling of an eye. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), 1 Corinthians 15:52 – and that in a moment and in the twinclinge of an eye at the sounde of the last trompe. For the trompe shall blowe and ye deed shall ryse incorruptible and we shalbe chaunged.

It’s better to give than to receive. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Acts 20:35 – I have shewed you all thinges how that so laborynge ye ought to receave the weake and to remember the wordes of the Lorde Iesu howe that he sayde: It is more blessed to geve then to receave.

Labour of love. (KJV) 1 Thessalonians 1:3 – Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.

Hebrews 6:10 – For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Lamb to the slaughter. (KJV), Jeremiah 11:19 – But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter;

Isaiah 53:7 – He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Law unto themselves. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Romans 2:14 – For if the gentyls which have no lawe do of nature the thynges contayned in the lawe: then they havynge no lawe are a lawe vnto them selves

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535),John 8:7 – Now whyle they contynued axynge him, he lift him self vp, and sayde vnto them: He that is amonge you without synne, let him cast the first stone at her.

Let not the sun go down on your wrath. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535),Ephesians 4:26 – Be angrie, but synne not. Let not ye Sonne go downe vpo youre wrath.

Let there be light. (KJV 1611), Genesis 1:2 – And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Letter of the law. (KJV), 2 Corinthians 3:6 – Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Living off the fat of the land. (KJV 1611), Genesis 45:17-18 – And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye: lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

Love of money is the root of all evil. (KJV), 1Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Man does not live by bread alone. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Deuteronomy 8:3 – He humbled the and made the hongre and fed the with man which nether thou nor thy father knewe of. to make the know that a man must not lyue by bred only: but by al that procedeth out of the mouth of the Lorde must a man lyue

Manna from Heaven. (KJV), Exodus 16:15 – And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat.

Many are called but few are chosen. (KJV), Matthew 22:14 – For many are called, but few are chosen.

My cup runneth over. (KJV), Psalms 23:5 – Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

My heart’s desire. (KJV), Psalms 21:2 – Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips.

No rest for the wicked. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Isaiah 57:20-21 – 20: But the wicked are like the raginge see, that ca not rest, whose water fometh with the myre & grauel. 21 Eueso ye wicked haue no peace, saieth my God.

Nothing new under the sun. (KJV), Ecclesiastes 1:9 – The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

O ye, of little faith. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Luke 12:28 – Wherfore yf God so cloth the grasse, yt is to daye in ye felde, and tomorow shalbe cast in to the fornace, how moch more shal he clothe you, o ye of litle faith?

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings. (KJV), Psalms 8:2 – Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

Matthew 21:16: And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Patience of Job. (KJV), James 5:11 – Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

Peace offering. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Leviticus 3:6 – Yf a man brynge a peaceoffrynge vnto the Lorde from of the flocke: whether it be male, or female, it shalbe without blemysh.

Pearls before swine. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534). Matthew 7:6 – Nether caste ye youre pearles before swyne.

Physician heal thyself. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Luke 4:23 – And he sayde vnto them: Ye maye very well saye vnto me this proverbe: Phisicion heale thy silfe.

Pride comes before a fall. (The Wycliffe Bible, 1382-1395), Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goth befor contricioun, & befor falling the spirit shall ben enhauncid.

Put words in one’s mouth. (KJV), 2 Samuel 14:3 – And come to the king, and speak on this manner unto him. So Joab put the words in her mouth.

Put your house in order. (KJV), 2 Kings 20:1 – In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

Red sky at night; shepherds’ delight. (The Wycliffe Bible, 1382-1395) Matthew 16:2 – The eeuenynge maad, ye seien, It shal be cleer, for the heuene is lijk to reed; and the morwe, To day tempest, for heuen shyneth heuy, or sorwful.

Reap the whirlwind. (KJV), Hosea 8:7 – For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk; the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.

Scapegoat. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Leviticus 16:10 – And Aaron cast lottes ouer the gootes: one lotte for the Lorde, and another for a scapegoote.

See eye to eye. (KJV), Isaiah 52:8 – Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.

Seek and you shall find. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 7:7-8. – Axe and it shalbe geven you. Seke and ye shall fynd. knocke and it shalbe opened vnto you.Set your teeth on edge. (KJV), Jeremiah 31:30 – But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Sign of the times. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 16:3 – and in the morninge ye saye to daye shalbe foule wedder and that because the skye is cloudy and reed. O ye ypocrites ye can discerne ye fassion of the skye: and can ye not discerne ye signes of the tymes?

Skin of your teeth. (Geneva Bible, 1560), Job 19:20 – I haue escaped with the skinne of my tethe.

Soft answer turns away wrath. (KJV), Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Sour grapes. (KJV), Jeremiah 31:30 – But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.

Spare the rod and spoil the child. (KJV), Proverbs 13:24 – He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.

Straight and narrow. (KJV), Matthew 7:13-14 – Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Sufficient unto the day. (KJV), Matthew 6:34 – Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Sweat of your brow. (KJV), Genesis 3:19 – In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Tender mercies. (KJV), Psalms 25:6 – Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

The apple of his eye. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Deuteronomy 32:10 – He founde him in a deserte londe, in a voyde ground ad a rorynge wildernesse. he led hi aboute and gaue him vnderstondynge, ad kepte him as the aple of his eye. Zechariah 2:8 – For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.

The blind leading the blind. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Matthew 15:14 – Let they go, they are ye blynde leaders of ye blynde. Wha one blinde leadeth another, they fall both i ye diche.

The bread of life. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), John 6:35 – And Iesus sayde vnto them: I am that breed of life. He that cometh to me shall not honger: and he that beleveth on me shall never thurst.

The ends of the earth. (KJV), Zechariah 9:10 – And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.

The fat of the land. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Genesis 45:18 – take youre father and youre housholdes and come vnto me and I will geue you the beste of the lande of Egipte and ye shall eate the fatt of the londe.

The fly in the ointment. (KJV), Ecclesiastes 10:1 – Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.

The love of money is the root of all evil. (KJV), Timothy 6:10 – For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The patience of Job. (KJV), James 5:11 – Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

The powers that be. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Romans 13:11-12 – Let every soule submit him selfe vnto the auctorite of ye hyer powers. For there is no power but of God. The powers that be are ordeyned of God. Whosoever therfore resysteth power resisteth the ordinaunce of God. And they that resist shall receave to the selfe damnacio.

The root of the matter. (KJV), Job 19:28 – But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the Root of the matter is found in me?

The salt of the earth. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 5:13 – ye are ye salt of the erthe: but and yf ye salt have lost hir saltnes what can be salted ther with? It is thence forthe good for nothynge but to be cast oute and to be troade vnder fote of men.

The skin of your teeth. (Geneva Bible, 1560), Job 19:20 – I haue escaped with the skinne of my tethe.

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 26:41 –  watche and praye that ye fall not into temptacion. The spirite is willynge but the flesshe is weake.

The straight and narrow. (KJV), Matthew 7:13-14. – Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The sweat of your brow. (KJV), Genesis 3:19 – In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

The wisdom of Solomon. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Luke 11:31 – The quene of the southe shall ryse at iudgement with the men of this generacio and condempne them: for she came fro the ende of the worlde to heare the wysdome of Salomon. And beholde a greater then Salomon is here.

The writing is on the wall. (KJV 1611), Daniel 5:25-28 – And this the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This the interpretation of the thing:

MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.

PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

There’s nothing new under the sun. (KJV), Ecclesiastes 1:9 – The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

Thorn in the flesh. (KJV), 2 Corinthians 12:7 – And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Three score and ten. (The Wycliffe Bible, 1382-1395), Leviticus 12 – Thre scoor and sixe daies. Psalms 90 – The days of our years are threescore years and ten.

Wash your hands of the matter. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Matthew 27:24 – When Pilate sawe that he prevayled nothinge but that moare busines was made he toke water and wasshed his hondes before ye people sayinge: I am innocent of the bloud of this iuste person and that ye shall se

What God has joined together let no man put asunder. (Coverdale’s Bible 1535), Matthew 19:6 – Now are they not twayne then, but one flesh. Let not man therfore put a sunder, that which God hath coupled together.

Weighed in the balance. (KJV), Job 31:6 – Let me be weighed in an even balance that God may know mine integrity.

White as snow. (KJV 1611), Daniel 7:9 – I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

Wheels within wheels. (KJV), Ezekiel 1:16 – The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel.

Wisdom of Solomon. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Luke 11:31 – The quene of the southe shall ryse at iudgement with the men of this generacio and condempne them: for she came fro the ende of the worlde to heare the wysdome of Salomon. And beholde a greater then Salomon is here.

Woe is me. (The Wycliffe Bible, 1382-1395), Job 10:15 – If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction;

Wolf in sheep’s clothing. (The Wycliffe Bible, 1382-1395), Matthew 7:15 – Be ye war of fals prophetis, that comen to you in clothing is of scheep, but withynneforth thei ben as wolues of raueyn.

You reap what you sow. (Tyndale’s Bible 1534), Galatians 6:7 – Be not deceaved God is not mocked. For what soever a man soweth yt shall he reepe.

Conclusion

The Bible was so much a part of people’s lives that many of the expressions it contained, became a common part of speech. As shown, some going back to Wycliffe’s Bible of 1382.

Acknowledgement

Many of these phrases have been extracted from the much larger work of Gary Martin which can be found at https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/bible-phrases-sayings.html.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyndale_Bible.

 

[2] KJV refers to the King James Version of 1769.

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