Two Truths and a Lie: The Bible Quiz

By: Torrance Grey
Estimated Completion Time
6 min
Two Truths and a Lie: The Bible Quiz
Image: boonchai wedmakawand / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

One of the first things that kids learn in Sunday School is that it's a sin to tell a lie. That's true, but lies have a complicated history in the Bible. Its famous figures do, in fact, speak untruths. One of the three major patriarchs in Genesis, Jacob, lies to his father about being Esau, his older brother, and steals his father's blessing that way. The prostitute Rahab lies about sheltering Joshua's spies in her home. The disciple Peter lies three times about knowing Jesus -- then breaks down and weeps upon realizing that Jesus had prophesied this very thing. 

The first two of these lies actually caused God's will to be carried out: Jacob became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, and Rahab's deception allowed the Hebrews to claim Jericho from the heathens who occupied it. Lies bringing about the will of God? Things get confusing fast in Bible study! 

For our part, we're going to play it straighter: We're going to lie in this quiz, with every question -- but we're being honest about it. Your job is to separate the one untrue statement from the two true ones. It might be a bit harder than you expect ... a lot of people believe things are in the Bible which aren't, or vice versa. (Our favorite was a person who insisted that "All men are created equal" was from the Bible.) You'll need to have studied the Good Book a lot to get a perfect score on this quiz, or even close to one. Good luck!

Can you spot the untruth about the creation story?
God puts His own breath into Adam's nostrils.
There are "waters" that seem to precede the creation.
It mentions Lilith by name.
Though an extra-biblical tradition holds that Adam had a first wife named Lilith, she does not appear in the creation story. Rather, God puts Adam to sleep, removes one of his ribs, and creates a woman from it (the first surgery, right there in Genesis!). Adam names his wife "Eve."

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The prophet Jonah is famous for being swallowed by a great fish. What's not part of his story?
He eventually did preach to Nineveh.
He was trying to get to Tarshish.
He had a business growing oranges in Joppa.
Joppa, now called Jaffa, is famous for its oranges. That's why the British treat, Jaffa Cakes, are orange-flavored under their coating of chocolate. And while Jonah sailed from Jaffa, intending to get to Tarshish, he didn't have a orchard there.

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Sarah was the wife of Abraham in Genesis. Which of these is not true about her?
She drove her maid Hagar away to her death.
Sarah's name was changed as part of God's covenant with her and Abraham (formerly "Abram"). She was also Abraham's half-sister -- hey, the rules were different back then! But she did not cause Hagar's death. She treated Hagar cruelly after Hagar became pregnant with Abraham's child, and the maid did run away, but she survived to become the mother of a new nation, the Ishmaelites.
Her name originally ended in an "i."
She was Abraham's half-sister.

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Sarah gave the son of her old age the name "Isaac," for "laughter." What isn't true about him?
He became blind in his old age.
He stole his father-in-law's household idols.
Isaac preferred his older son Esau, the hunter, to Jacob, the trickster. This is why Jacob tricked his father into believing he was Esau by covering his arms with hairy goathide -- Esau was very hirsute -- and letting his blind father touch him, to ascertain his identity. Isaac then mistakenly gave his blessing to the wrong son, the younger-born Jacob.
He tended to play favorites between his two sons.

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Everyone knows that Jesus had 12 disciples. Which of the following statements isn't true about them?
They were a "core" group, with more followers beyond that.
One of them was a tax collector.
Judas was Jesus's first choice for "the rock" on which he would build the church.
Peter was "the rock," which is why in addition to his original name "Simon," he was given the name "Peter," for "rock (petra)." Jesus identifies him clearly as his choice for leader of the early church -- or, in the Catholic tradition, the first pope.

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Prophets play a vital role in the Bible. Who among these is not, however, one of them?
Ham
Ham is one of the sons of Noah, and the one who disrespectfully looked upon his father's nakedness when Noah was drunk. Ham is also called "Canaan," linking him with the pagan nations who occupied the land marked by God for Israel. Altogether, he's not one of the Bible's best-loved figures.
Jeremiah
Samuel

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King David performed many feats before and during his reign. However, one of them was not ...
Fathering a child with Abishag in his old age
In his waning years, David was given a young woman, Abishag, to sleep in his bed with him and keep him warm. They did not have a child together. In fact, it is possible that Abishag's role was a kind of test: if David could not consummate a relationship with her, then he had lost his sexual potency and could no longer be king. This idea is not commented on in the Bible itself; it is a suggestion made by historians with a special interest in the scriptures.
Killing Goliath with a slingshot
Sparing Saul's life in a dim cave, when he could have killed him

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Christians spend a lot of time reading the gospels. Which of these is untrue about them?
They tell the story of Jesus's deeds, death and resurrection.
They are the only books in which Jesus is a person on Earth.
Generally speaking, if you want to read about Christ's time on earth, you turn to the gospels. However, the book of Acts opens during the days after Christ's resurrection. In these pages, Jesus walks and talks with the disciples on earth, giving last instructions before ascending to heaven.
Three are synoptic and one is more mystical.

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Bathsheba is one of the Old Testament's more famous women. Which of these isn't true about her?
She became the Queen Mother.
Her first pregnancy by David resulted in King Solomon.
Bathsheba was married to Uriah when she was seduced by David, so her pregnancy was a vexing problem for the king, which he solved by sending Uriah to his death at the front lines. Bathsheba's child died a few days after its birth, and it was only later that she and David had Solomon.
She was married to a warrior named Uriah.

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Can you spot the lie about Methuselah, the Bible's oldest man?
He lived 969 years.
His father was Enoch.
He had no children himself.
Methuselah had at least one son, Lamech. We know this because the Bible notes that Methuselah lived "after the birth of Lamech seven-hundred and eighty-two years." Fun fact: His father Enoch is believed to be one of two people in the Bible who never died, because Genesis says "God took him," instead.

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One of these is not a tribe of Israel. Can you tell us which one?
Dan
Luke
Luke is the author of the third gospel and, it is believed, the book of Acts; some theologians consider these two books to be "Luke-Acts," best considered as one work. The other two names above are tribes of Israel -- which includes Dan, though that's a very modern-sounding name!
Simeon

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Moses was one of the greatest leaders found in the Bible. However, what wasn't true about him?
He killed a man.
He entered into the promised land with his people.
In Egypt, Moses killed a slave overseer who was beating a Hebrew. God appears to have forgiven that, choosing Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. Later, though, God denied Moses the chance to enter into the land of Canaan because he altered, if not outright disobeyed, God's orders (Num. 20: 2-10).
He tried to decline his leadership role based on not being a good speaker.

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Jacob is a complicated trickster figure in Genesis. What is not true of him?
He had sons by two wives and two concubines.
He wrestled with an angel.
He loved both his wives equally.
The story of Leah and Rachel is a famous one. Jacob wanted Rachel, but his father-in-law Laban tricked him into marrying Leah, the oldest, first; this was the custom of Laban's people at the time. That must have been a thick bridal veil!

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Which of these is just not true about Samuel, the wise prophet of Israel's early years?
His mother dedicated him to God's service.
He was called back to earth as a ghost.
He opposed Saul's kingship from the beginning.
Samuel recognized Saul as the man who God had ordained to be the first king of Israel. Later, though, he anointed David as the future monarch. This earned Saul's enmity for both of them, and the king was an increasingly unstable man in his later years.

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Can you identify the untruth about the Bible's famous chapter about love ("the greatest of these is love")?
Early versions use the word "charity" instead.
It is 2 Corinthians 13.
If you didn't guess that "2 Corinthians 13" was the lie, well, this one was sneaky. It's 1 Corinthians 13 -- very close. This passage, which ends with "These three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love," is a favorite for reading at weddings.
It also contains the verses saying "When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child, I reasoned as a child ..."

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The book of Revelations is complex, mystical and kind of scary! Which of the following isn't true about it?
It is the only place in the Bible where the end of the world is described.
It's true that Revelation is the only book dedicated wholly to the story of the end of the world. However, Matthew 24 contains another, shorter description, given by Jesus himself. Johnny Cash, religious in his later life, cited it in one of his songs: "Matthew 24 is knocking at the door."
It was written on the island of Patmos.
It contains the legendary "beast" whose number is 666.

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One of these is not the name of an enemy of Israel. Which is it?
Amalekites
Calormenes
Calormen was a country in the "Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis. It was a thinly-veiled depiction of the Arab-Muslim world, and the enemy of (Euro-Christian) Narnia, though the countries weren't usually at open war.
Philistines

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Which of the following isn't true about the book of Judges?
The judges are all male.
Deborah, the prophetess, was a judge of Israel. The judges served as the Israelites' highest authority before the people demanded a monarchy, and chose King Saul by casting lots -- not to be confused with "votes." This was a form of divination, not democracy.
It is the seventh book of the Bible.
It precedes the book of Ruth.

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Can you identify the untruth about Joseph, the son of Jacob exiled to Egypt?
His coat had only one color.
There's no reason to disbelieve the Bible about Joseph's coat of many colors. It's one of the better-known facts about Joseph. Far fewer people have heard of Asenath, but she was the Egyptian wife of Joseph, and the mother of Manasseh and Ephraim with him.
His wife's name was Asenath.
He had prophetic dreams.

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Can you tell us which of these is not true about the gospel of John?
It contains the shortest verse in the Bible.
It is one of the synoptic gospels.
Matthew, Mark and Luke are the "synoptic" gospels, the ones whose structure and content closely mirror each other. John takes a more philosophical approach, and one of its verses, John 3:16, is held up on signs at ballgames in an attempt to spread the word of God. Its text: "For God so loved the world that he sent his only son, that whoever believes in him may not perish, but have eternal life."
One of its verses is frequently referenced on signs at sporting events.

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Can you spot the lie among these "meta" facts about the Bible?
Malachi is its final book.
Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament, or Jewish Bible. However, the final book of the Christan Bible is "Revelations," or, "The Revelation to St. John." The book which does not mention God is the book of Esther.
It has been translated into more than 500 languages.
One of its books does not mention God at all.

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More meta facts about the Good Book! However, one of them is wrong ...
It's the best-selling book in history.
It had numbered verses from its first printing.
Numbering the verses was a later innovation, of about Shakespeare's day. The other two facts cited above are true. We're indebted to "factretriever.com" for their fascinating list, "50 Amazing Bible Facts," from which we learned this "meta" material.
It is thought to be the most frequently stolen book in the world.

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Matthew was the disciple Jesus called away from being a tax collector. What's not true of the gospel bearing his name?
It likely wasn't written by the disciple Matthew.
It contains no parables.
Matthew was written, scholars believe, too long after Christ's death to have been written by the disciple Matthew. However, it does contain parables, as well as Matthew 24, in which Jesus describes the end of the world. (You'll see this verse mentioned elsewhere in this quiz!)
It contains a famous chapter about the End Times.

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Can you identify the "fact" that isn't true about the book of Revelations?
Its final word is "Amen."
It contains a curse on anyone who adds to or deletes content from it.
It inspired the movie "Armageddon."
"Armageddon" was a 1998 sci-film about a killer asteroid and the space cowboys out to stop it; it had nothing to do with the events of Revelation. The curse is found just before the final word "amen," in verses 18 and 19.

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King David's bloodline, or the "house of David," is a very important one in the Bible. Who among the following is not part of it?
Absalom
Melchizedek
Melchizedek, in Genesis, is both king and priest. So, in the Christian tradition, he prefigures Christ. However, nowhere is he identified as one of Jesus's ancestors, though Jewish tradition associates him with Noah's son Shem.
Ruth

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We can't give someone as important as Moses just one question! What else is not true about this major biblical figure?
His wife's name was Rachel.
Moses married Zipporah, the daughter of a Midianite priest. Later in Exodus we learn that Aaron and Miriam criticized for Moses foir marrying "a Cushite woman." However, the text is unclear on when this happened, or if the Cushite woman was, in fact, Zipporah.
He was raised as Egyptian royalty.
He appeared at the Transfiguration, to Jesus and three disciples.

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Can you spot the lie about the book of Acts?
It is the fifth book of the New Testament.
Some of it is written in the first person.
It is believed to be written by a woman.
Acts is the story of the early Christians, and some of it is narrated by someone who uses the pronoun "I." However, though women were involved in the early church and thus appear in Acts -- they include Dorcas and Sapphira --there is no evidence for a woman writer.

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The book of Isaiah is one of the Bible's major books of prophecy. What's not true about it?
It contains the verses that inspired "Turn! Turn! Turn!"
The Byrds wrote "Turn! Turn! Turn!" using verses from Eccelesiastes: "For every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." The words "Turn, turn, turn" are a refrain between verses, and not nearly as emphatic as the exclamation points make it seem.
It is quoted several times in the gospels.
It has 66 books.

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Can you spot the untruth about Jeremiah, the prophet?
He lived during the reign and death of King Josiah.
His name gives us a word for "a very sad tale."
He held Ahab and Jezebel to account for wrongdoing.
Ahab and Jezebel were the enemies of the earlier prophet Elijah. Jeremiah lived later, during Josiah's reign, and he prophesied the Babylonian invasion and the Jews' exile as slaves. From his dour predictions, we get the word "jeremiad," meaning "a long sad story or lament."

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Can you spot the lie about the gospel of Mark?
It does not contain the crucifixion story.
For a time, Matthew was believed to be the first gospel written, and thus is placed first in the New Testament. Gradually, opinion came around to the idea that Mark was written first, and the other two "synoptic" gospels draw from it. (John, as we've noted elsewhere, was really doing his own thing!)
It is believed to be the first gospel written.
It contains the story of Jesus's temptation by Satan.

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Which of the following isn't true of the book of Obadiah?
It is the shortest book of the Old Testament.
It is the last book of the Old Testament.
Obadiah is only 21 verses long, and describes the coming destruction of the Edomites, the enemy of Israel. However, Obadiah isn't the final book in the Old Testament; that would be Malachi, as noted elsewhere in this quiz.
It's about the fall of the heathen nation Edom.

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Can you identify the untruth about the book of Jude?
It's considered one of the epistles.
It has only 25 verses.
Hey, this is not a book of the Bible!
Jude really is part of the Bible, though not nearly the most famous of its books. It's a short, but fascinating, epistle in the New Testament. What makes it so interesting? Among other things, it refers to the archangel Michael and the Devil fighting over the body of Moses.

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Which of these things is not true about Jael, found in the book of Judges?
She killed Sisera, enemy of the Israelites.
She used a tent peg to do so.
She was a judge of Israel.
Women dominate the early part of the book of Judges. Deborah was the judge of Israel in chapters 4 and 5, when she tells Barak, a warrior, that the Lord "will deliver Sisera into the hand of a woman." This does indeed happen, with Jael giving Sisera shelter from his enemies, but then driving a tent peg through his head as he sleeps.

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The book of Titus is found in the New Testament. What is not true about it?
It was written on behalf of a runaway slave.
It is the book of Philemon which argues on behalf of Onesimus, a truant slave who committed an unspecified offense against his master (besides, apparently, running away). Titus is a book mostly concerned with the duties of bishops in the early church; its authorship is disputed.
It is traditionally attributed to Paul.
It might not, in fact, have been written by Paul.

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Can you identify the lie about the epistle of 3 Peter?
It makes reference to the "harrowing of hell."
It explains why God is delaying the Second Coming.
The lie is that it's in the Bible at all.
The apostle Peter, or "Saint Peter," undoubtedly wrote more than two letters to various groups of early Christians. However, only two are in the New Testament -- 1 Peter and 2 Peter. They are the ones that mention the "harrowing of hell" (Jesus preaching to the pre-Christian dead in the afterlife) and the Second Coming.

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