A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand"?

The term "a house divided against itself cannot stand" means everyone involved must unify and function together or it will not work out.

The term "a house divided" originates from the Bible, where it features twice:

Gospel of Matthew: Chapter 12: Verse 25

"Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand."

Gospel of Mark: Chapter 3: Verse 25

"And if a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."
These verses are quotations from Jesus. According to Bible Study Tools, "He [Jesus] was describing the division within the house of the Lord that would eventually lead to His sacrifice on the cross." It was essentially Jesus's warning to remain united.

The term was further popularized by President Abraham Lincoln's 1858 anti-slavery speech, which started with "A house divided against itself cannot stand." President Lincoln, however, used the term "house" in reference to the government, and, nowadays, the idiom is most often used in a political context due to its inclusion in terms such as the "House of Representatives," "House of Commons" or "House of Lords."

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A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • In order to thrive and succeed, it is crucial for a team to work together and avoid internal conflicts, as a house divided against itself cannot stand.
  • The leader emphasized the need for harmony among the team members, as they understood that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
  • When there is infighting and discord within a family or community, it weakens the foundation and poses a threat to its stability, for a house divided against itself cannot stand.
  • The phrase serves as a reminder that solidarity and cooperation are essential for any group to thrive and overcome challenges, as a house divided against itself cannot stand.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.