The quote that went viral after Graham’s death actually came from D. L. Moody—but he probably wouldn’t mind.
In the wake of Billy Graham’s death, many have recalled the evangelist’s most pithy phrases and memorable lines in posts across social media. The onslaught of quotes comes as a fitting homage to a man who was known for his words, which brought the good news of the gospel to millions. [Read CT’s special tribute issue.]
The most viral quotation from the late preacher—at one point shared every 15 seconds on Twitter—addresses Graham’s own view of his death:
Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.
It’s a stirring remark that captures the heart of the evangelist’s life and message—his focus on the gospel and his confidence in eternity. No wonder denominational leaders, commentators, Christian musicians, evangelists, reality TV stars, pastors, and thousands of others posted this popular quote attributed to Graham after his death.
The saying makes for a particularly apt tribute given that Graham, the most prominent preacher and evangelist of the 20th century, actually adapted it from the most prominent preacher and evangelist of the 19th century, Dwight L. Moody.
The original version appears in the first line of Moody’s autobiography, released in 1900. It reads:
Some day you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all; out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal—a body that death cannot touch; that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned …