From time to time I hear well meaning laymen, and some preachers, teach things from the Bible that are just not there. These are a few of my pets.

By the Sweat of Your Brow

Since I was a little boy I have always heard it said that "The Bible says you must earn your living by the sweat of your brow." Genesis 3:19 says, "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 Tower of Babel

It is sometimes said that the people of Babel planned to build a tower so tall that they would just walk up the steps to heaven. That is not true. The Bible is very plain as to the reason they were building the tower. It was a monument. "And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4). God did not get excited because He was afraid people would be climbing to heaven but he was upset because the people entered into an agreement to always be one nation. If God had left them alone men would have driven air conditioned cars, while talking on cell phones and listening to the radio several thousands of years ago. Genesis 11:6,"... now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do."

The Death Angel

I was listening to a professor of a Bible college lecturing on the Passover. In the lecture he mentioned the death angel killing those who did not have the blood applied to the door posts. The term "death angel" is not mentioned in connection with the children of Israel in Egypt. As a matter of fact, the term "death angel" is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible.

The Wise Men in Bethlehem

Everyone knows that the three wise men came to visit the baby Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem. After all, Christmas cards and Christmas plays always show the three wise men bringing their gifts to the baby Jesus as he lay in a manger in a stable. But, a little study of the Bible shows otherwise. In Matthew chapter two the wise men were sent by Herod to Bethlehem but it was the star that led them to Jesus. At the time Jesus was called a "young child" and not a "baby" and they entered a "house" and not a "stable." According to Herod’s questioning of the wise men, Jesus was probably two years old. After the wise men left an angel instructed Joseph to take Mary and Jesus and flee to Egypt. In Luke chapter two we are told that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple according to the Law of Moses (found in Leviticus 12, at which time Jesus would have been at least 41 days old) after which they returned to Nazareth. If you put these two chapters together you must arrive at the conclusions that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, when he was at least 41 days old he was taken to the Temple after which the family returned to Nazareth. When Jesus was around two years old the wise men, led by the star, came bringing their gifts to Nazareth. When they left, Mary, Joseph and Jesus left for Egypt.

Mount Calvary

"On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross." It must have been that song that started the talk and songs about Mount Calvary. The fact is, the Bible says nothing about Calvary being a hill, much less a mountain. A lecture I once heard at Gordon’s tomb in Jerusalem convinced me that the common place for crucifixion in Jesus’ time was at the bottom of the famous "skull" hill and not on top of it. There is now a bus station built on the spot.

Eternal Abode in Heaven

It is often said that we are going to heaven and stay there forever. That is not true. We are going to heaven and stay there until the resurrection. After the tribulation we are coming back to the earth for the millennium and after the new heaven and new earth, the earth will be our home, not heaven (Revelation 20 and 21). The Bible says so little about heaven that about the only thing we can say for sure about it is, we will be there with the Lord.

Pearly Gates and Golden Streets

Even preachers sometime preach that you enter heaven through the "Pearly Gate" and walk on streets of gold. That isn’t what the Bible says. The gates of pearl and golden streets are in the New Jerusalem (which will be on the new earth) and not said to be in heaven (Revelation 21 ).


by Raymond McAlister
September 2004