Man does not live by bread alone

Man does not live by bread alone is a proverb, which is a short, common saying or phrase. These language tools particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these expressions as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are better late than never, curiosity killed the cat, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, never look a gift horse in the mouth, a blood is thicker than water, and don’t count your chickens before they hatch. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the expression man does not live by bread alone, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

The proverb man does not live by bread alone means that human beings need more than the simple necessities to keep them biologically alive, they need things that feed them mentally, spiritually, aesthetically, and they need things that give their lives meaning. This sentiment may be found in several places in the Bible, in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In a passage in Deuteronomy 8: 2-3: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.” Jesus Christ reiterated this sentiment in his teachings, as found in the Gospel of Matthew 4:4 : “But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” The proverb man does not live by bread alone may be taken as the word of God in holy scripture by the faithful, but this Biblical truth is also true outside of a theological context. Psychologists tell us that most people need an interest outside of themselves to be happy, something that fulfills then spiritually, whether it be raising children, pursuing art, or serving those in need. Notice that in the Bible the last half of the proverb states that as man needs bread, so he needs every word that God speaks, a sentiment that is lost in the proverb.


Yet the experience of the past year shows that “man does not live by bread alone”. (The South China MOrning Post)

Because man does not live by bread alone, he also has to make his life meaningful.  (The Manila Times)

But it must remain rooted, because man does not live by bread alone, and because both the market and the larger society depend upon other formative institutions that help us all become better human beings and citizens. (The National Review)

Gorringe tells us, “Spiritually will be at the heart of it because humans do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, which is to say by an openness to the mystery of all reality, by practices of gratitude such as praise.” (The Christian Century)

Leave a Comment