I have in my mind a verse/phrase made by Paul "in him we live and breathe and have our being", which is from Acts 17:28.

Looking at a broad representation of translations (http://biblehub.com/acts/17-28.htm) and I don't see a translation that references the word 'breathe'. I can only find translations that say "For in him we live and move and have our being".

So, I must have the wrong translation of this verse in my mind. But then, I see that many others have this 'breathe' translation in their minds too, including Oprah Winfrey no less (https://twitter.com/oprah/status/229606562518425600?lang=en).

Doing an exact match search in Google returns ~3,000 results. So, it seems I'm not the only one.

Am I thinking of a translation that was in circulation 30 years ago? Or am I, and many others, just messing this up in our memory? Interesting that we all seem to be messing it up by putting the word 'breathe' in.

This is not a problem for me, but I'm curious where I got the 'breathe' translation. Any insight?

  • 1
    It seems that the verse is being misquoted.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 11, 2017 at 21:16
  • 1
    It is highly likely an amalgam of the two verses, Acts 17:25 and Acts 17:28. In 17:25 Paul says, "he giveth to all life, and breath", and then in 17:28 he says, "in him we live, and move, and have our being".
    – enegue
    Dec 12, 2017 at 4:40
  • Live and breathe is a well-known English expression, hence the understandable conflation.
    – Lucian
    Dec 13, 2017 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


There are two main variants to this verse, but neither tie to any word related to "breath" (πνοή - pnoē).

The majority of manuscripts - including all but one of the principal codices - read (word order excepted):

ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν

  • ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ - for in Him

  • ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα - we live and we move

  • καὶ ἐσμέν - and exist ("are")

The Codex Bezae (5th c.) reads slightly differently:

ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν τὸ καθʼ ἡμέραν

Where the phrase τὸ καθʼ ἡμέραν means something like "day by day".

The full verse reads, in English translation (RSV):

For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

The quote is generally attributed to Epimenides of Cnossos (6th/7th century BC) - from his work Phaenomena.

I thought perhaps that ‘In him we live and move and have our being’ might be a fragment of a longer verse in Phaenomena that conformed to Oprah's reading, but this doesn't seem to be the case: the only verse from the text is "For we are indeed his offspring ..." (with "his" referring to Zeus).

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