Can You Guess the Book of the Bible If We Give You the First Verse?
By: Tasha Moore
Image: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/DigitalVision / Getty Images Plus
About This Quiz
Show that you know the first verses of your favorite Bible books with this heavenly quiz. If the quotes you see contain the name of Jesus, then you've significantly increased your chances of getting those questions right. You'll need as many hints as possible, since most folks don't read Bible books from first to last verse, so things can get tricky!
First verses of the Bible are more informative than you might think. Most first verses set the tone for the rest of the book, and still, others don't offer much info other than who might have penned the words therein. Count on first verses from Old Testament prophet books to give specifics about time and territory of coming events. An Old Testament prophet's first verse tends to read like a master setting out of a Hollywood screenplay.
First verses of the Bible are like the coming attractions for what's to come in the rest of the book's verses. That is, except for when the purpose of the book is less for telling a story and more for providing instruction, as is the case with Apostle Paul in the New Testament. The first verses of Paul's epistles to the churches were short and to the point. The missionary did not mince words thereafter either.
Try to identify as many books as you can from the following first verses!
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is referred to as the book of beginnings. The first part of the book, the prologue, consists of chapters one through eleven. The rest of the book details God's dealings with Abraham and his family.
"Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came unto Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob."
This first verse of Exodus suggests that the book was written as a continuation of the first book, Genesis. Exodus is about the plight of Israel, also called Jacob, who were a people in bondage in Egypt, and it serves as a record of their subsequent release under the leadership of Moses.
"Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God."
Ezekiel's book explores the "visions of God" that the prophet experienced. Throughout each chapter, Ezekiel admits to God's main purpose, which is to incite spiritual correctness and behavior among his people.
"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
This first verse from the gospel of Matthew offers a snapshot of Jesus's lineage. Specifying that Jesus was descended of Abraham confirms his Jewish origins, while his relation to King David establishes a sovereign entitlement.
"Now king David was old and stricken in years; and they covered him with clothes, but he got no heat."
The second verse explains events iniated in the first verse: "Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin...let her lie in thy bosom, that my lord the king may get heat." Sickly, 70-year-old David was ill and body-warming was a medical notion.
"And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying..."
The book of Leviticus is named for "Levi," which is the tribe of Israel that furnished the priesthood. Leviticus is a book of laws meant to set standards of spiritual and cultural righteousness among the people.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tabernacle of the congregation, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying..."
The events that occur in the book of Numbers take place in a wilderness. "[T]he first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt" specifies the time from Israel's deliverance out of Egyptian slavery.
These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab."
The first verse of Deuteronomy confirms Moses's role to teach "unto all Israel." The name Deuteronomy means, "second law." In the book, Moses attempts to explain God's law as well as the importance of following it.
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life..."
In John's first book, he and the early church bear witness to "the beginning," which is most likely a reference to Jesus Christ and his ministry. In the book, John implores followers to substantiate belief with action.
"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets..."
The introduction of Hebrews reassures new Christians of God's timelessness. The Old Testament prophets are deliberately referenced as vessels of God's unchanging message to the people, delivered in various ways (visions, dreams, foretold events, etc.).
"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God..."
Paul considers himself to be "separated" and, in essence, a slave of God who accepted the divine calling to preach to both Jew and Gentile. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul prepares the beleivers for his missionary travels to Rome and Spain.
"Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?"
The events that unfold in the book of Judges occur after the death of Joshua, who had been a prominent leader among the people of Israel. Judges explains the period in which Israel transitioned to sovereignty.
"Now it came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehemjudah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife, and his two sons."
The book of Ruth explores the notion of God extending divine consideration for all who believe, be they Jew or Gentile. Ruth's events chronicle the period prior to Israel's monarchy and include trials of Jews and Moabites, who were non-Israelites.
"Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite..."
First Samuel establishes the ascendency of Israel's monarchy which occurred during Samuel's tenure. The book's initial setting, as the first verse indicates, is the mountainous region of Ephraim where the tribe of Ephraim dwelled.
"Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had abode two days in Ziklag..."
Second Samuel recounts David's development as an Israel king appointed by God. Second Samuel is a continuation of 1 Samuel, but the books were combined as one initially. Second Samuel is edited so as to highlight David as the central figure of the book.
"Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead)..."
As is typical of Paul's epistle introductions, the apostle makes light of his unique calling to the faith. Paul was simaltaneously called as a divine teacher and saved during a trip to Damascus, as chronicled in the book of Acts.
"In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah came Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon unto Jerusalem, and besieged it."
Daniel was a prophet of God who chose to begin his book by mentioning kings that greatly affected the destiny of exiled Israel. King Jehoiakim of Judah was subjected to Babylonian rulership until he died.
"Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying..."
The book of Ezra is replete with manifestations of events that God had promised through the prophets. The prophet Jeremiah had foretold that captivity under Babylon would last 70 years. King Cyrus of Persia was instrumental in the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy.
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God..."
Mark makes it clear early on that his cause for writing the book was to elucidate Jesus's divine status as "Christ, the Son of God." Mark's gospel does not include Jesus's exlusion of Gentiles from the teachings, as Mark wrote primarily for Gentile Christians.
"Then Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab."
Second Kings picks up where 1 Kings left off during the rulerships of Jehoshaphat of the southern kingdom and Ahaziah of the northern kingdom. At the start of the book, Ahab's death signals the independence of the oppressed Moabites from Israel .
"The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth..."
Christian theologians debate whether John wrote his letter, 2 John, to a specific "lady and her children" or if he is figuratively referencing the early church as "elect lady." The issues that John raises seem to concern those of a church community rather than a particular person.
"Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this is Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, over an hundred and seven and twenty provinces)..."
The yearly festival of Purim is one focal point of the book of Esther. Jewish deliverance during Xerxes's reign is another reference point that Esther references throughout, stressing that subsequent generations commemorate the event.
"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful."
There are five sections in the book of Psalms. The first two books are termed "Davidic psalms"; the third book includes authorship from sons of Korah and Asaph; and the fourth and fifth books are mostly anonymous.
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us..."
The book of Acts serves as a follow-up to the book of Luke; none of the other three gospels have sequel texts. Luke is the longest gospel of the four books and tends to give a more complete depiction of Jesus from his birth until his death.
"The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth."
In 3 John, John confirms his status as church leader by the title "elder." He pens the letter to someone named "Gaius," which was a common name in Rome. Not much is known about this recipient, though many speculate that he was a member of one of the early churches.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
The gospel of John highlights the miracles of Jesus, lending credence to the argument that the book's first verse references Jesus Christ as the "Word [that] was God." The first verse equates God's everlasting powers with Christ.
"The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach..."
The book of Acts is an extension of Luke's gospel, as well as a continuation of Jesus's teachings through the works of the apostles. Acts, which is addressed solely to Theophilis, documents the establishment of the early Christian church.
"Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother..."
First Corinthians answers points from two letters Paul had received concerning the early church. Paul is compelled to offer his wisdom concerning order during worship services, the purpose of spiritual gifts and the formality of the Lord's Supper.
"How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people how is she become as a widow she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary..."
As the name implies, Lamentations explores human suffering in general, and Judah's suffering in particular. The conditional term "how" in the introductory verse sets an interrogative tone that's manifested throughout the book.
"And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the Lord his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly."
What God had promised to King David in previous texts are continued through David's son Solomon in 2 Chronicles. In the book, the restored children of Israel face Persian control, leaving many to wonder if God's covenants were still in effect.
"The vision of...the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah."
The book of Isaiah spans several significant periods for Israel. The first part presents Israel's trials during Assyrian invasions. The second section references Babylonian exiles, and the last portion of the book explores the concerns of former exiles.
"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was...and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil."
The book of Job investigates the plight of the sufferer, a theme that all major religions explore. Human suffering, as Job personifies, also invites suppositions concerning the impartiality of God, a notion that emerges throughout the text.