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This Too Shall Pass

This Too Shall Pass

I’ve said this often.  Heard it even more times.  Do you know where it comes from?  Sometimes I wonder where in the world I got some of the expressions I say.  You really never know until you research them though.  Remember “a little prayer wheel turning”?  So I decided to figure out where the expression “This too shall pass” comes from.

Did you think from the Bible?

Nope, although many people do think it’s in the Bible.

Did you think it was just a simplified concept from the Bible?

This is where I was.

My best explanation was from Ecclesiastes.   Essentially the whole book of Ecclesiastes, but especially the following:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Essentially the same idea that time passes and nothing will stay the same.

The really bizarre thing is the number of people who are tattooing that phrase.  Imagine that something as “permanent” as a tattoo saying “This too shall pass”.  I’m afraid the tattoo will last longer than they wanted and it won’t pass so quickly.  Ironic.

So where does the phrase come from?

The first known writing of the phrase is in Persian poetry in the 11th and 12th Century.  Jewish Folklore attributes the phrase to a story about Solomon. 1

Abraham Lincoln is said to have said this phrase.

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: ‘And this, too, shall pass away.’  How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!”

Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy of Freedom


Despite the unclear origin of the phrase there are several verses that support  “This too shall pass.”

The storms shall pass by.

Psalms 57:1 (ESV) Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

Our days quickly pass by.

Psalms 90:9-12 (ESV)

9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.

Psalms 102:3 (ESV) For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.

James 4:14 (ESV) … What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

Even Heaven and Earth will pass away.

Psalms 102:25-27 (ESV)

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Matthew 24:35 (ESV) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

2 Peter 3:10-13 (ESV)

10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,
12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Generations will pass away.

Matthew 24:34 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Rulers will pass away.

1 Corinthians 2:6 (ESV) Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.

Prophecies, Tongues and Knowledge will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (ESV)

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

The rich will pass away like a flower.

James 1:9-10 (ESV)

9 Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation,
10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away.

However, the Lord’s Words will never pass away.

Matthew 24:35 (ESV) Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.


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