Who Said It? Bible Quotes

Eric Totherow

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About This Quiz

The Bible has been a source of religious and literary inspiration for thousands of years. Can you identify these well-known quotes from the Bible? All quotes are from the New International Version.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

Jesus says this to his disciples in John 15. He warns them that they will be persecuted, but also reminds them this is because he has "chosen them out of the world."

“He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.”

John prepares the way for Jesus and develops a religious following of his own, but he makes sure it doesn't overshadow his message that Jesus will come.

“Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.”

Moses climbs Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, and the Israelites are unable to function without a spiritual leader. As a proxy, they melt down their jewelry to create the infamous Golden Calf, which outrages Moses when he returns. In his rage, Moses destroys both the calf and the tablets containing the Commandments. (He later gets another set).

“And now these three remain: faith, h​ope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

This famous quote, often read at weddings, comes from 1 Corinthians 13. Paul criticizes the Corinthian church for focusing too strongly on individual gifts such as wisdom and faith, warning them not to lose sight of how these ought to work together for the common good.

“Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Cain, angry that his brother Abel's sacrifice pleased God more than his, commits humanity's first murder in Genesis 4. When God asks where Abel went, Cain attempts to evade responsibility with this question. He doesn't succeed.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

Psalm 23, attributed to David, is likely the most famous Psalm and one of the best-known passages of the Bible.

“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages”

Jesus is anointed with expensive oil, but Judas says the anointing was a waste. Jesus' defense is that there will always be poverty, but that he will not be on Earth much longer. The Gospel of Mark (and the musical Jesus Christ Superstar) imply Judas is unsatisfied with this response, partially motivating him to betray Jesus. On the other hand, John says the question was not rooted in genuine concern.

“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”

The Pharisees accuse Jesus of spending too much time with sinners rather than the (self-proclaimed) righteous. Jesus responds with this quote.

“I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles​ and birds.”

This vision comes in Acts. When Peter points out that the animals aren't kosher, God replies "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean," ending the Mosaic dietary laws.

“Will not the judge of all the Earth do right?”

Abraham says this about the planned destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He protests that there may be righteous people in the cities, and God ought to spare them. God responds by sending his angels to guide Lot and his family out of Sodom.

“Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men.”

In Romans, Paul draws a contrast between the first Adam (from Genesis) and Jesus. This contrast also appears in 1 Corinthians, where he refers to Jesus as the "last Adam" and compares Jesus' gift of life with Adam receiving life.

“Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”

When Jesus prophecies that Peter will abandon him, Peter defends himself with this quote. Later, when Jesus is led to his crucifixion, Peter breaks his promise and denies knowing Jesus, vindicating the prophecy.

“I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me… So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Shortly after his baptism, Jesus is tempted by Satan in the desert. One of Satan's temptations is to offer all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus worships him. He refuses.

“Can you bind the beautiful Pleides? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons, or lead out the bear with its cubs?”

Job does not lose his faith as a result of God's trials, but he insists that God explain his suffering. When God appears, he points out the absurdity of Job's demand, emphasizing the immense difference between man's understanding of the universe and God's own.

“Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon”

During his conquest of the Promised Land, Joshua commands the sun to stop in the sky so he has time to finish a battle. God obliges. Along with other miracles (such as crossing the Jordan and making the walls of Jericho collapse), this solidifies Joshua as Moses' successor.

“What is truth?”

At Jesus' trial, Pontius Pilate asks Jesus if he proclaims himself a king. Jesus does not directly answer, and instead, says that "everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice." Pilate responds with this question ​but leaves before hearing a response.

“I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand”

In Judges 6, God summons Gideon to rescue Israel from its enemies. Although he's initially reluctant, he accepts once God gives him signs like the one described. After Gideon's success, the Israelites offer to make him king, but he tells them to follow God instead.

“Fear God and keep his commandments, for that is the whole duty of man”

This quote comes at the ending of Ecclesiastes, which is commonly attributed to Solomon. The book points out the folly and vanity of the world and our ways of living in it, and it's often considered an early example of Existentialism.

“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!”

Isaiah compares the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar to Venus, the "morning star." In Latin this is rendered as "Lucifer," and the passage is often associated with Satan, but the connection is not explicit in the text.

“You are not under law, but under grace”

This quote from Romans is an example of Paul's contrast between Judaism (law) and Christianity. Paul's emphasis on grace and faith rather than obedience strongly influenced Martin Luther and John Calvin, who developed theologies of salvation completely independent from law and works.

“It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, worries that Jesus and his following jeopardize the uneasy relationship between Judea and Rome. Fearing that Roman retribution will mean the end of the Jewish nation, he conspires to have Jesus arrested and killed.

“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and feet.”

While it's generally read as a prophecy of the crucifixion, this quote is originally from Psalm 22. Jesus quotes this psalm's opening lines ("My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?") while being crucified, emphasizing the connection.

“My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you”

Absalom was David's favorite son, but he rebelled against his father's kingdom. Promising justice to the Israelites, he succeeded in raising an army and forced David to flee Jerusalem, but was ultimately defeated. David asked for him to be spared despite leading the insurrection, and was heartbroken when his call for mercy fell on deaf ears.

“The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, and their ways are vile; there is no one who does good.”

This is another quote from Psalms, first used in Psalm 14 and then in a slightly different form in Psalm 53. Paul later alludes to these verses in Romans 3.

“My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.”

Rehoboam, the last king to rule a united Israel, says this in 1 Kings 12. His subjects complain about the heavy burdens his father Solomon placed on them, but Rehoboam becomes an even harsher ruler, and the already strained kingdom falls apart.

“With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them.”

In an impressive example of his godly strength, Samson kills 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone. When Samson breaks his Nazirite vows by allowing his hair to be shaved, he loses his strength, and the Philistines take revenge by kidnapping him and gouging out his eyes.

“Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.”

Near the end of Isaiah, Israel anticipates a return from the Babylonian captivity. Isaiah emphasizes the need to keep God's commandments not only in letter but in spirit to prevent a similar tragedy again. Jesus directs similar criticism at hypocrites who go through the motions of righteousness but ignore the intent.

“Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord. The god who answers by fire—he is God”

Elijah tries to turn Israel back from apostasy. He challenges prophets of Baal to light an altar while he asks God to do the same; the priests are unable to light their altar, while God lights Elijah's even when it's wet. Despite this demonstration, Israel does not return to god.

“In my visit at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven.”

This is a prophecy of the end times. Daniel's vision describes four beasts destroying the Earth, God judging the people, and the son of man becoming king over the world, although the exact interpretation of the prophecy is still debated.

“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

In Luke, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her she will bear Jesus, shortly after appearing to Zechariah and announcing the birth of John the Baptist. In addition to these announcements, Muslims believe Gabriel later revealed the Quran to Muhammad.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Peter warns Jesus' followers of the discrimination they'll face, urging them to be prepared to defend their faith. Scholars disagree whether this verse (1 Peter 3:15) refers to formal legal testimony or merely social pressure, but either way, the quote has become a favorite of apologists.

“I am Esau your firstborn”

Jacob impersonates his brother Esau, tricking their blind father into giving Esau's blessing to Jacob instead. Jacob and Esau are later contrasted in Malachi and Romans to illustrate the nature of God's love.

“He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

This prophecy closes the Old Testament, and John the Baptist's ministry at the beginning of the Gospels is seen as its fulfillment.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

Paul argues that faith is the criteria for salvation, while James argues that "faith without works is dead," since even the demons have faith. Most Christians reconcile the two approaches into a single doctrine. Others, including Martin Luther, have interpreted James' epistle as directly contradicting Paul's.

“His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus, foreshadowing the harvest metaphors that Jesus will use throughout his ministry.

“Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.”

This warning comes from the first Epistle of John. Unlike modern usage, John's "antichrist" doesn't refer to a specific demonic person. Instead, he's condemning heretics who used to associate with the church but now deny Jesus was the Messiah.

“Man does not live on bread alone” (Hint: It's not Jesus)

Jesus quotes this when Satan tempts him to turn stones into bread, but it originally came from Deuteronomy. Jesus' quotation of it is fitting; the Israelites failed a similar test under Moses' leadership, but Jesus successfully trusts in God.

“Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid.”

The Book of Micah prophesies that, in the last days, a new Jerusalem Temple will be established. Through this temple, God will broker peace and understanding between the nations, ending war and giving everyone "their own vine and fig tree." George Washington often quoted this verse to symbolize his hope for America (you might also recognize it from the musical Hamilton).

“And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been.”

This quote comes from Ecclesiastes. Some Christians interpret the book's cynical worldview as a satire of life without God, and others believe it simply reflects a world prior to Jesus, but still others take it as a sincere commentary on the meaning of life.

“He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, 'Son of man, can these bones live?' ”

Jesus is often called the son of man, but the title also applies to Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 37, God shows him the Valley of Dry Bones and has him breathe life into the skeletons, a metaphor for Israel's return from the exile. Throughout the New Testament, deliverance from sin is compared with the end of the exile, so the "son of man" connection is not merely coincidence.

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