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I'm Irish. I'm a rock star here. I'm not white either. The Irish are kind of -- pinkish. Underdone.-- Bono, 2004

U2 Bible References: Achtung Baby


Achtung Baby (1991)

U2 launched into a new decade with a redefined image on its seventh album, this time featuring a more industrial sound and provocative themes. Though the band was conflicted and unsure of its future while producing the record, it contains some of U2’s best-loved songs: “One,” “The Fly,” “Mysterious Ways,” and “Even Better Than The Real Thing.”

Each song may show up in one, two or three of the following categories:

Direct Quotes: lyrics that are clearly taken from specific verses in the Bible

Indirect References: lyrics that are likely referencing the Bible but without quoting specific verses

Possible Influences: lyrics that hint at biblical themes and influences, but have no overt connection

"One"

 

U2 lyric

We're one but we're not the same

 

Possible influence 

This is a major theme of the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. He often spoke of the healthy tension between community (“we’re one”) and individuality (“but we’re not the same”).

Romans 12:3-8, especially 4-5 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 12:12-31, especially 12-14 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

We get to carry each other

 

Indirect reference 

Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV)

 

U2 lyric

Have you come to raise the dead / Have you come here to play Jesus

 

Indirect reference 

John 11, especially 43-44 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

To the lepers in your head

 

Possible influence 

Luke 17:11-13 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (NIV)

 

U2 lyric

Love the higher law

 

Possible influence 

Romans 13:10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (NIV)

Galatians 5:14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NIV)

 

 


 

"Until The End Of The World"

 

The entire song is a reflection on the tension between Jesus and Judas

U2 lyric

Last time we met was a low-lit room / We were as close together as a bride and groom / We ate the food, we drank the wine

 

Indirect reference 

This is the Passover meal (also known as the Last Supper) found in Matthew 17:17-30, Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:7-38.

 

 

U2 lyric

I took the money

 

Indirect reference 

Matthew 26:14-16 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (NIV)

Mark 14:10-11 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11 They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

In the garden I was playing the tart / I kissed your lips and broke your heart

 

Indirect reference 

Matthew 26:47-49 While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” 49 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. (NIV)

John 18:3 So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. (NIV)

 

 


 

"Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses"

 

U2 lyric

Well, you left my heart empty as a vacant lot / For any spirit to haunt

 

Possible influence 

Luke 11:24-26 When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

Who's gonna drown in your blue sea… / Who's gonna fall at the foot of thee?

 

Possible influence 

Luke 8:35 (Scene takes place at the Sea of Galilee) When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind. (NIV)

 

 


 

"So Cruel"

 

U2 lyric

Between the horses of love and lust we are trampled underfoot

 

Possible influence 

2 Kings 9:33 (The death of Jezebel) He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall and on the horses, and he trampled her under foot. 34 When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, “See now to this (NIV)

  

 


 

"The Fly"

 

U2 lyric

Love, we shine like a burning star / We're falling from the sky tonight

 

Possible influence 

Luke 10:18 Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan fall from the sky like lightning.” (WE)

 

 

U2 lyric

It's no secret that the stars are falling from the sky

 

Possible influence 

Revelation 6:12-13 I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth…. (NASB)

 

 

U2 lyric

The universe exploded 'cause of one man's lie

 

Possible influence 

Romans 5:12-21, especially 12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned (NIV)

 

 


 

"Mysterious Ways"

 

U2 lyric

The moon, Johnny, living underground, running away from what you don't understand, belly dancing, mysterious ways

 A general retelling of Oscar Wilde’s play Salome, the story of John the Baptist and Herod’s daughter.

 

Possible influence 

Mark 6:17-29, especially 22 When the daughter of Herodias [traditionally known as Salome] came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. (NIV)

 

 

U2 lyric

Spirit moves in mysterious ways

Possible influence 

John 3:8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. (NIV)

 

 


 

"Tryin' to Throw Your Arms Around The World"

 

U2 lyric

He took an open-top beetle / Through the eye of a needle

 

Possible influence 

Luke 18:24-25 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

 

 


 

"Acrobat"

 

U2 lyric

Yeah I'd break bread and wine… / To take a cup, To fill it up

 

Indirect reference 

1 Corinthians 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (NIV)