8 – God Forbid

Fifty common expressions that originated from the Bible that influence our language today.

 God Forbid – “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). This phrase occurs 24 times in the Bible.

God forbid” is a Hebrew idiom indicating a prayer that God would prevent something from happening (I Samuel 24:6). However, in our secular society today the use of the phrase “does not necessarily imply a belief in God’s direct intervention but merely expresses a strong wish” (The American Heritage Idioms Dictionary).

Generally, this expression is used in one of three ways: As a desire (If, God forbid, something goes wrong, I don’t know what I would do); sarcastically (God forbid you get off the couch and help me clean) or to criticize someone (My husband really wants me to stay at home with him in the evenings, God forbid I should go out with a friend of mine).

At a website for linguists, etymologists and serious English language enthusiasts a enquiry was made for a phrase to replace “God forbid” because of its religious connotations. One author suggested the axiom “perish the thought.” However, even this expression seems to have been influenced by the Bible when God says: “…in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:4). Thus, it seems that even those who wish to deny God and the Bible are fated to continually quote it.

Posted in Influence

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