12 Steps, With Bible Verses

12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous & Biblical References

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

“I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:18)

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

“… My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“…for it God Who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose…” (Phil. 2:13)

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of GOD as we understood Him.

“… If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23**)

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

“Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40)

5. Admitted to GOD, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)

6. Were entirely ready to have GOD remove all these defects of character.

“If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land.” (Isaiah 1:19)

7. Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23, 24**)

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

“Give and it shall be given you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38**)

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith GOD has given you.” (Romans 12:3)

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with GOD as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will, and the power to carry that out.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (Col. 3:16)

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and practice these principles in all our affairs.

“Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2)

** words of Christ


I had a poster of these 12 steps and verses on the wall in my office when I served in the CARE Ministry at Grace. I found it online here. I also found another site with many more references listed here. (If you want to look up the verses and don’t have a Bible, there’s a Bible search box on my site, or go here.

8 thoughts on “12 Steps, With Bible Verses”

  1. Thank you for this important site and rendition. We have devoted 20 years to researching the Christian origins, founding, program, and successes of the early A.A. Christian Fellowship founded in Akron in 1935. That has meant unearthing what the pioneers studied in the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. My hope is that your viewers will avail themselves of this work as set forth in two books–Dick B., The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials, and The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible. In His Service, Dick B. http://www.dickb.com/JamesClub.shtml; http://www.dickb.com/goodbook.shtml.

  2. Congratulations on your parallels between the Steps and Biblical ideas as you see them. This has been going on for many many years as various AAs tried to link the Steps to the Bible. I suppose there are three approaches now in vogue: (1) What did Dr. Bob mean when he said that the basic ideas for the Steps came from the study of the Bible? The context is found in his last major address where he specifically mentioned the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 as absolutely essential (www.dickb.com/JamesClub.shtml). (2) Having some Christian like John Baker of Celebrate Recovery or Saul Selby of Hazelden or this writer pair up Steps with Bible ideas–but that wasn’t how the early AAs viewed the matter. (3)Taking the Steps for what they are: They were derived largely from the teachings to Bill of the Oxford Group life-changing ideas by Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker (www.dickb.com/newlight.shtml) and Shoemaker’s Oxford Group friends and colleagues (www.dickb.com/Oxford.shtml). Since both Shoemaker and Oxford Group Founder Dr. Frank Buchman were ardent Bible quoters and students, the best actual Biblical sources for Step ideas is neither what Dr. Bob suggested nor what Christian writers would like to have them mean, but rather how Shoemaker and the Oxford Group writers carefully based each of the 28 life-changing ideas on various Bible verses. That doesn’t make their ideas right, but it does set the Step picture straight. God Bless, Dick B. http://www.dickb.com

  3. Thank you for your valuable and well presented site on the relationship between A.A., its Steps, and the Bible. I applaud any effort these days to call attention to the fact that the origins, history, founding, original program, and astonishing successes of the early A.A. Christian Fellowship foundeed in Akron in 1935 were directly attributable to the Christian organizations like the evanglist revivals, rescue missions, YMCA, Salvation Army, and Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society had such a great impact on the lives of A.A. Cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob. Also that both these A.A. Cofounders had a Christian upbringing as youngsters in Vermont. Both attended Congregational churches and Sunday schools. Both received substantial instruction in the Bible from their churches and from their respective academies–Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont (for Bill) and St. Johnsbury Academy in St. Johnsbury, Vermont (for Bob). Put this all together, and it is small wonder that early AAs studied the Bible daily, used daily Bible devotionals, and held old fashioned prayer meetings which were heavy with Bible materials.
    God Bless, Dick B.

  4. Alcoholics Anonymous: Do You Believe?
    Remember, It Only Takes One!

    By Dick B.
    © 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved

    Do you believe:

    God raised Jesus from the dead.

    Acts 2:22, 24 (KJV):
    Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him. . . . Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death. . . . [See also Romans 10:9.]

    Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.

    John 11:39-41, 43, 44 (KJV):
    Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. . . .
    Jesus saith unto her [Martha], Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
    Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me.
    And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
    And he that was dead came forth, . . .

    Peter raised Tabitha from the dead.

    Acts 9: 36, 37, 40, 41 (KJV):
    Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, . . .
    And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: . . .
    But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes; and when she saw Peter, she sat up.
    And when he gave her his hand and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive.

    Paul raised Eutychus from the dead.

    Acts 20: 9, 10, 12 (KJV):
    And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.
    And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.
    And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.

    What Jesus said after he was risen:

    Mark 16:14-18, 20 (KJV):
    Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.
    And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
    He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; . . .
    And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
    . . . they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
    And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

    Statements by A.A.’s cofounders and A.A. Number Three that offer the promise of belief about curing alcoholism:

    Bill Wilson: “Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. (New York City, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001), 191]

    Dr. Bob Smith: “That was June 10, 1935, and that was my last drink. As I write, nearly four years have passed. The question which might naturally come into your mind would be: ‘What did this man [Bill Wilson] do or say that was different from what others had done or said? . . . . But this was a man who had experienced many years of frightful drinking, who had had most all the drunkard’s experiences known to man, but who had been cured. . . .” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 180]

    “If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. . . . Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181]

    A.A. Number Three Bill Dotson: “That sentence [Bill Wilson’s statement quoted earlier on page 191], ‘The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it,’ has been a sort of a golden text for the A.A. program and for me. . . . [P]robably the most wonderful thing that I have learned from the program—I’ve seen this in the A.A. Grapevine a lot of times, and I’ve had people say it to me personally, and I’ve heard people get up in meetings and say it—is this statement: ‘I came into A.A. solely for the purpose of sobriety, but it has been through A.A. that I have found God.’” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191-92]

    What’s so hard about believing the statement contained in the “Foreword to Second Edition” of Alcoholics Anonymous [published in 1955] that “of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50%” were permanently cured [“got sober at once and remained that way”—Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xx]? And that another “25%” relapsed but returned to be cured [“sobered up after some relapses”—Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xx]? What’s so hard about believing the following statement by Bill W.:

    What is this but a miracle of healing? Yet its elements are simple. Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker—then he knew.
    Even so has God restored us all to our right minds. . . . He has come to all who have honestly sought Him. When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us! [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 57]

    In his own hand, and on his own office stationary, Dr. Bob listed by name, sobriety date, and sobriety record the first pioneers who were cured. Three quarters of of those pioneers on Dr. Bob’s list were cured. They believed. And I believe that!


    Gloria Deo

  5. You have been more than generous in including my comments. And I won’t repeat here what I have documented so many times about the Bible, Dr. Bob, the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, and the daily Bible studies and prayer meetings of Akron A.A.

    I do want to underline and reply to the continuing ad hominem assaults on the idea that A.A. has biblical roots. There are about six writing groups I have seen who persistently and erroneously say that DR. Bob and Bill W. were not and could not be Christians. Same for A.A. Number Three who had been a long-time deacon, Sunday school teacher, and church-goer. Did all three drink too much? Of course. But that didn’t erase their new birth. Did all three have Christian upbringings, Bible studies, church attendance, and YMCA connections? Of course; but that didn’t vanish from their lives when they finally decided to get sober.

    Is A.A. Christian today? Of course not. A new path was taken when the Big Book was published in 1939 and three of the Twelve Steps replaced the word “God.” The door was opened. Opened to atheists, agnostics, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and ublievers. Drunks of all belief and unbelief and denominations eventually flooded in. And today you have a mixture of Christians, nonsense god admirers, and uninformed newcomers and oldtimers.
    Not to mention the hordes who, today–unlike their A.A. forbears–would rather be involved in a non-drinking society with huge numbers of meetingsd and lots of chatter, as well as the Big Book and hordes of new literature A.A. itself is pouring out.

    What is A.A. today? Certainly not Christian. Certainly not able to deny its own very clear Christian origins, history, and original Christian fellowship program where belief in God, acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and Bible study were requisite to admission. And certainly not, today, able to claim that its Christians give a fig for the nonsense gods, the “higher powers,” the light bulbs, the spurious “spirituality” that have crept in under the auspices of the Adversary and those who are ordered in by the courts, bussed in by the treatment centers, and abandoned to A.A. by professionals who don’t follow through or worry about the diversity.

    Can a Christian belong to A.A.? Of course. If he belongs, can the Bobgans, the Lanagans, the Rapture Ready folks and others suddenly declare that the Christians have become “unsealed” with that Holy Spirit of promise? Of course not. And today there is a vast, growing movement of Christian leaders, workers, newcomers, and others who-whether involved in prisons, hospitals, the VA, military, mental wards, A.A., counseling, sober living and the rest–are 100% for A.A. Friendly, Bible friendly, History friendly, Christian friendly fellowships which believe in the vital role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have played and can play in recovery.

    I won’t argue with the self-styled psycho-heretics who seem to have endless funds to pour out anti-A.A., anti-Christian, anti-recovery literature which is filled with falsehoods and absurd purported biblical refutations. But my 42 titles and 500 articles are just a start in helping those alcoholics, addicts, at-risk, and affected sufferers to get help if they want to seek God’s help.

    Dick B., Kihei, Hawaii

  6. I think whatever it takes to get people to break the addiction. God can certainly help and many addicts that I know have used these 12 steps to empower them to stop and stay stopped. I love your post and respect that if God cannot fix it, nobody can. I have started a blog regarding Problems with Alcohol, to hopefully help folks understand that alcoholism is widespread and they aren’t alone in this rough journey.

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