there but for the grace of God go I

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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...".

Proverb[edit]

there but for the grace of God go I

  1. 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.
  2. Humankind's fate is in God's hands.
  3. More generally, our fate is not entirely in our own hands.

Usage notes[edit]

  • 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."

Translations[edit]