What Does Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone Mean?

Man Does Not Live By Bread Alone Meaning

Definition: Humans need more than just sustenance to have a fulfilled life; people have spiritual needs as well as physical needs.

Origin of Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone

This idiom comes from the Bible, specifically Deuteronomy 8:2-3.

  • He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

It appears other places in the Bible as well.

Matthew 4:4:

  • Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

And Luke 4:4.

  • Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’[a]”

Most people interpret this to mean that people need God to live, just like they need food. While food will satisfy our physical needs, a relationship with God will satisfy our spiritual and emotional needs.

Examples of Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone

a man does not live on bread alone In this example, two friends are talking about their busy schedules.

Neha: Hey, Tyrese. Do you have a minute? I want to ask your advice about something.

Tyrese: Sure. Go ahead. What’s up?

Neha: How do you make sure you keep your life balanced?

Tyrese: What do you mean?

Neha: I feel like I’m always so busy, but you’re busy too. However, I always feel like my life is missing something, and you always seem happy. What I mean is I’m always working and working, with only time to eat and sleep. Man does not live by bread alone. I feel like without having time to go to church, I’m missing out on something very important.

Tyrese: Hmm. I’m not sure what advice to give you. You might just have to cut back your time at work. I had to do that to spend more time with my family.

Neha: I think I might have to.

man will not live by bread aloneIn this example, two office workers are discussing the different beliefs people have in their workplace.

Barry: Are you going to go to church this Sunday?

Rachel: No, I’m not religious. Also, I’m Jewish.

Barry: Really? Almost no one who works here is religious. I just don’t understand it.

Rachel: Why not?

Barry: I just feel like man does not live by bread alone. My life would feel so empty without God in it.

Rachel: Well, not everyone feels that way. Everyone has different beliefs.

Barry: I guess you’re right, but I still can’t understand it.

More Examples

This excerpt uses the idiom to make the point that while food isn’t the only thing people need, it is a very important thing.

  • Make it a point to stop and eat something nourishing three times a day. And not just another latte from Starbucks! Keep your body running at full steam with fruit, veggies, meats, grains, etc. Man does not live by bread alone, but he doesn’t live without it, either! –Forbes

This excerpt comes from the religion section of a newspaper.

  • At every turn, it was the devil who was way out of his league because when he came calling, Jesus merely let His father answer the door. “Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord … Do not put the Lord your God to the test … Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” Matthew 4:4-11. –The Philadelphia Tribune

Summary

The proverb man does not live by bread alone is a quote from the Bible that means the soul needs nourishment (through spirituality) just as the body needs food.

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