- Meg Bucher Writer and Author
“but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” – Genesis 3:3
But …This small conjunction of the English language flows in and out of our conversations daily. It means “on the contrary, except, or unless.” As a preposition, it means, “with the exception of; except; save.” And as an adverb, it means “only or just.” It is a small word, but useful in enhancing the meaning of surrounding words and signaling appropriate pause. But God signifies a redirection in what we are able to accomplish, in contrast to the power and works of God.
The phrase “but God,” appears verbatim as an important concept throughout the entirety of the Bible. Though Author of every breath and blessing, humanity’s sinful nature continues to rebel against our great, loving God. The apostle Paul divinely penned, “I do what I hate,” describing the impossible escape from the sin of this world. God isn’t surprised by evil, nor our struggle with sin. His response since the beginning of time has been to provide a plan of rescue and redemption. The sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, is the greatest expression of God’s love. The ultimate but God is the Messiah’s defeat of death. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
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Where Is “But God…” in the Bible?
But God is a dramatic and powerful phrase. It yields to God’s power, sovereignty, and majesty. God is perfectly just, merciful, and forgiving. His grace and love are unmatched. He is everywhere and all-knowing. In Genesis 3:3, God in the original Hebrew translates Elohiym. There are many names for God in the Bible. Elohim is used in the very first sentence of the Bible. God, our Sovereign Creator, is also our loving Father, Yahweh. Elohim means “supreme one,” or “mighty one.” The many names of God, used in conjunction with but, acknowledge who He is, in contrasted to our limited ability and knowledge.
But God is found from the first pages of Scripture on through the New Testament. Scripture in its entirety points to Christ Jesus, the Messiah. Old Testament accounts remind us of the power of God to flip evil on its head. David new there was nothing that could separate him from God. He wrote, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but god is the strength of my heart and my potion forever” (Psalm 73:26). In the New Testament, we are reminded Jesu—God with us—defeated death. Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Paul’s life had been flipped by the power of Christ, and he knew all he had accomplished on this earth was the divine and sovereign work of God and the Holy Spirit working through him. Jesus walked out His life on earth in obedience to the Father, to bring glory to Him in accomplishing His purposes. Paul and David, two great men of Scripture, made sure the totality of their lives pointed to God.
“But God” Is at the Heart of the Gospel Message
We still look forward to the final but God moment, when Jesus will return to right every wrong, heal every hurt, and dry every tear. There will be no more sadness, no more death, pain or heartache (Revelation 21:4). Jesus will return to right every injustice and establish God’s Kingdom on earth.
The world we live in is a mess. It’s fallen, cursed and sinful. Our enemy wreaks havoc, injustice seems to prevail, and innocent people suffer… but Jesus. But God. The story is not over yet. God’s plan is perfect. His intent was to rescue us all along. Though we rebel and the world is sin-cursed, He reigns in sovereign control. To follow Christ is to gain an everlasting hope, and eternal life with God in heaven. “These two words, ‘but God,’ tell us that we have been saved only by God’s grace,” Jon Bloom wrote for Desiring God. “Dead children of wrath do not become living, loving children of God but for God.”
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20 “But God…” Verses to Remember God’s Faithfulness and Goodness
1. “But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.” – Genesis 8:1
2. “But God said to Abraham, ‘Be not displeased because of the boy and because of your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” – Genesis 21:12
3. “You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me.” – Genesis 31:6-7
4. “So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” – Genesis 45:8
5. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” – Genesis 50:20
6. “But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.” – Exodus 13:18
7. “And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.” – 1 Samuel 23:14
8. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my potion forever.” – Psalm 73:26
9. “And he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” – Luke 16:15
10. “And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him.” – Acts 7:9
11. “But God raised him from the dead,” – Acts 13:30
12. “but God shows his love for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
13. “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to world standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
14. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” – 1 Corinthians 3:6
15. “For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort with which he was comforted by you, as he told us of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced still more.” – 2 Corinthians 7:5-7
16. “For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” – Galatians 3:18
17. “Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.” – Galatians 3:20
18. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” – Ephesians 2:4-5
19. “Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” – Philippians 2:27
20. “But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are his,’ and ‘Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” – 2 Timothy 2:19
The above Scriptures are only a part of the stories and the people they are attached to. When we take time to read the full accounts, God reveals wisdom, conviction and encouragement. Scripture is one of the ways God communicates with us. He is not a God of coincidence, and will speak into our personal situations! Our God is compassionate. He sees and loves us for who we are, right where we are at. He knows what we face in our daily lives, and is close to us when we are brokenhearted. Nothing can shake His love for us. When we face impossible moments, or “glory up” experiences, we can write our own “but God” stories. And we should! As Christ followers, we are called to tell of the everyday miracles Christ weaves into our lives.
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Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer, and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture’s context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God’s Word in relation to your life today.