Word on the Street, First in the Bible

At American Bible Society, we spend all day every day thinking about the best-selling book of all time. But I'm guessing that most of you don't. So you may not be aware of the Bible's influence in the world.

"I get it," you say. "The Bible is a book that Christians have relied on for nearly two millennia. Tell me something I don't know."

Ok, try this.

It isn't an overstatement to say that nearly every newspaper and magazine in the English-speaking world uses a word or phrase in every issue that originated in the Bible. Whether it is a restaurant review (cucumber), a political story (left-wing), a beauty feature (wrinkle), an overview of an art exhibit (beautiful), or a front-page headline (sex, scapegoat, ambitious, or liberty), words first found in the Bible permeate their pages.

Consider for a minute how many of the following words and phrases, all first found in the Bible, have made their way into your everyday conversation.

Adoption (Romans 8:15)
A drop in the bucket (Isaiah 40:15)
A fly in the ointment (Ecclesiastes 10:1)
A man after his own heart (Samuel 13:14)
A multitude of sins (James 5:20)
A thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7)
All things to all men (1 Corinthians 9:22)
Am I my brother's keeper? (Genesis 4: 9)
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth (Matthew 5:38)
As old as Methuselah (Genesis 5:25-27)
As old as the hills (Job 15 7)
As you sow so shall you reap (Galatians 6:7)
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust (Genesis 3:19)
At his wits end (Psalms 107:27)
Beat swords into ploughshares (Isaiah 2:4)
Bite the dust (Psalm 72:9)
Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
By the skin of your teeth (Job 19:20)
Can a leopard change its spots? (Jeremiah 13:23)
Eat drink and be merry (Luke 12:19)
Faith will move mountains (Matthew 21:21)
Fall from grace (Galatians 5:4)
Fight the good fight (Timothy 6:12)
Flesh and blood (Matthew 16:17)
For everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:3)
From strength to strength (Psalm 84:7)
Give up the ghost (Acts 12:23)
Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-33)
House divided (Luke 11:17)
How are the mighty fallen (2 Samuel 1:19)
Liberty (Leviticus 25:10)
Living off the fat of the land (Genesis 45:17-18)
Love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10)
Man does not live by bread alone (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14)
My cup runneth over (Psalm 23:5)
Network (Exodus 27:4)
No rest for the wicked (Isaiah 57:20)
O ye, of little faith (Matthew 6:30)
Out of the mouths of babes (Psalm 8:2)
Pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6)
Physician heal thyself (Luke 4:23)
Scapegoat (Leviticus 16:10)
Sour grapes (Ezekiel 18:2)
The apple of his eye (Deuteronomy 32:10)
The blind leading the blind (Matthew 15:14)
The bread of life (John 6:35)
The fruits of your loins (Genesis 35:11)
The powers that be (Romans 13:2)
The root of the matter (Job 19:28)
The salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38)
The writing is on the wall (Daniel 5:5-6)
To cast the first stone (John 8:7)
Two-edged sword (Proverbs 5:4)
Under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
What God has joined together let no man put asunder (Matthew 19:6)
Woe is me (Isaiah 6:5)

Surprised? Don't be. The influence of the Bible can be found in every area of society.

There is an interesting incident recorded in the Bible. In the story God is speaking to a man named Isaiah. In this exchange, God poetically declares the power and reach of His life-giving language. "That's how it is with my words. They don't return to me without doing everything I send them to do." (Isaiah 55:11)

Clearly these first words are still hard at work.