Revisited since 2006: I recently noticed the salutation while reading 2 Corinthians, and I remembered this little study and quiz I did almost 10 years ago now. I thought that the one in my audience now might not have been following what I was writing back then, and I decided to revisit this quiz.
So here’s a quiz for you. Close your Bible. Shut down your Bible software program. Put your notes away, and get out a clean sheet of paper and a #2 pencil. Be sure to fill in the dots on your sheet completely and erase corrections completely. I hope you studied for this one!
There are nine questions and they are all the same, except that they reference different books of the Bible: Please tell me who the following books of the Bible were written to?
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- 1 Thessalonians
- 2 Thessalonians
Now check your answers and then get out your red pen to grade the quiz.
I hope you didn’t answer these thoughtlessly–because the answer is not the church in each of those cities. It will be interesting to see who gets the best score. Make sure you’re honest and then ponder how the instructions in those books change their nuances because of who they are written to.
- Romans – “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints” (1:7). This is interesting because we’ll also note that there was more than one church in Rome even at this time. Paul specifically mentions the one in Priscilla and Aquila’s house in chapter 16:3-5. It seems evident that since he mentions the church in their house, there were other churches in Rome that met in other people’s houses or in other places.
- 1 Corinthians – “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth” (1:2). Very good! That one was easy.
- 2 Corinthians – “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth” (1:1). Very good! Oh, wait. Got to keep reading… “with all the saints which are in all Achaia” (1:1). Achaia is a large region. It would have included Cenchreae; also Sparta, Athens, Olympia.
- Galatians – “Unto the churches of Galatia” (1:2). Now don’t whine, but if you said “the church” at Galatia, I cannot accept that as a correct answer. We must be very careful to be precise in our understanding of Scripture.
- Ephesians – “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (1:1). Oooh, a little different. Is that the same as the saying “the church” at Ephesus. Well, I can’t give you that one either. It seems significant that Paul does not address Ephesians to the church there. Paul was in Ephesus for quite some time, and Acts tells us that from Ephesus “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus.” Ephesus was a large city and more that one church was represented by “the saints which are at Ephesus.”
- Philippians – “to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (1:1). Here again, if you wrote down “church” you are not correct. Sorry.
- Colossians – “to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse” (1:2). “Church” is not the correct answer for this one either. Sorry.
- 1 Thessalonians – “Unto the church of the Thessalonians” (1:1). Very good. That was an easy one!
- 2 Thessalonians – “Unto the church of the Thessalonians” (1:1). Very good. That was easy also!
So, how’d you do? Tell me in the comments. But don’t be second guessing my motives. I had been reading a lot of discussion about the church and the body and other metaphors for the church. And I wanted to see who Paul was writing to when he used the differing descriptors.
I surprised myself. I have to admit, although I didn’t keep track when I did the study, I would guess I only got four of them right myself.