there but for the grace of God go I
Allegedly from a mid-sixteenth-century statement by John Bradford, "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford", in reference to a group of prisoners being led to execution.
A paraphrase from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:8–10, which states, "Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am...".
- A recognition that others' misfortune could be one's own, if it weren't for the blessing of the Divine, or for one's luck.
- Humankind's fate is in God's hands.
- More generally, our fate is not entirely in our own hands.
- This proverb is an expression of humility; in using it, a speaker acknowledges that outside factors (such as God's grace, or his upbringing) have played a role in her/his success in life.
- The adverbial phrase is often set off with commas: "There, but for the grace of God, go I."