What is the Book of Chronicles About?
Read this 3-minute introduction to help you find your bearings in the Bible story, and be inspired to read Chronicles!
This overview video illustrates for us the literary design of the book of Chronicles using creative animations.
In this video, Pastor David Murray introduces us to the purpose and message of the book of Chronicles.
This clear, concise video will introduce you to the book of Chronicles—it’s themes, authorship, title, and more.
Phil Wickham tells us how 2 Chronicles 20 inspired him to write one of his most beloved songs "Battle Belongs," and how it can inspire you to trust God today.
The text nowhere directly identifies its author, but traditionally he has been called “the Chronicler.” The Chronicler was either a priest or Levite who was employed in the service of the temple during the Persian period (539–332 BC). He had scribal training and access to the temple records.
From Bibles.net: Remember that the ultimate author of every book of the Bible is the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). He has written this book to equip you for life, to help you know the true God, and to give you hope (2 Timothy 3:16; Romans 15:4). The Holy Spirit wrote Chronicles for your good and to lead you into joy.
Judah and Benjamin, the only surviving tribes of Israel, had returned to the land after the Babylonian exile. They had rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem. But in many ways it seemed like they were still in exile (see Ezra 9:6–15; Nehemiah 9:32–36). There were questions about Israel’s place in God’s purposes and the meaning of his ancient promises to David. With such questions in mind, the Chronicler wrote his books to promote spiritual and social renewal. He presented an interpretation of Israel’s past, drawing mainly on the books of Samuel and Kings. He showed how the nation’s unfaithfulness to God had led to disaster but also how its faithful kings and people had experienced God’s blessing.
Unless otherwise indicated, this content is adapted from the ESV Global Study Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright ©2012 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Richard Pratt on Teaching 1 Chronicles
We chose this podcast for you to help orient you to the overall purpose and themes in Chronicles. Pastor Richard Pratt will not just prepare you to study Chronicles, but will also get you excited to read this book of the Bible and discover its value.
As you read through Chronicles, you might come across words and ideas that are foreign to you. Here are a few definitions you will want to know!
A place where sacrifices were made to worship God. An altar could be a pile of dirt or stones, or a raised platform of wood, marble, metal, or other materials. The bronze or brazen altar was used for burnt offerings in the tabernacle’s courtyard. It was a large box, eight feet square and four-and-a-half feet high, made of wood covered with bronze. A much larger altar replaced it when Solomon built the temple. The altar of incense (also called the golden altar) was smaller, covered with gold, and placed just in front of the veil to the Holy of Holies. Every day, both morning and evening, incense was burned here, symbolizing the prayers of the people.
To pour oil on a person or thing. A person was anointed to show that God had chosen him or her to do a special job. Samuel anointed David to show that God had chosen him to be king.
A special wooden chest that was covered with gold. God told Moses exactly how to make the ark because it was to show the people of Israel that God was with them. The ark was about four feet long, two feet tall, and two feet wide. On top, two golden figures of angels faced each other. The two tablets of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded were kept inside the ark. The ark was placed in the most holy place in the tabernacle.
A powerful and aggressive nation, the most powerful Middle Eastern empire from the tenth century BC through most of the seventh century. Nineveh was the capital city. Assyria conquered Israel and took its inhabitants captive.
A Hebrew word that means “master.” Baal (plural, Baalim) was the name of many false gods worshiped by the people of Canaan. They thought the Baalim ruled their land, crops, and animals. When the Israelites came to the Promised Land, each area of the land had its own Baal god. Names of places were often combined with the name Baal to indicate ownership (Baal-Hermon shows that Hermon belonged to Baal). Eventually, Baal became the name for the chief male god of the Canaanites. They believed that Baal brought the sun and the rain and made the crops grow. The Israelites were often tempted to worship Baal—something God had told them they were never to do.
The capital city and the country that was one of the major political and cultural centers of the ancient world. The city of Babylon was located at the junction of the Euphrates River and major east-west caravan routes. For nearly 1,000 years, until the rise of Assyria in the ninth century BC, Babylon dominated much of the Middle East. Near the end of the seventh century BC, Babylon regained its independence and for nearly 100 years asserted its influence throughout the region and was a constant threat to the kingdom of Judah, finally resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of Judah’s leading citizens. Babylon was captured by the Persians in 539 BC and then continued to decline, until it was destroyed by the Greek army under Alexander the Great.
To praise or make holy. The word bless is used in different ways in the Bible: (1) When God blesses, he brings salvation and prosperity and shows mercy and kindness to people. (2) When people bless, they (a) bring salvation and prosperity to other persons or groups; (b) they praise and worship and thank God; (c) they give good things or show kindness to others.
A sacrifice, or gift, to God that was burned on an altar. The offering was a perfect animal, such as a goat, sheep, lamb, or ram. Burnt offerings were always given for cleansing, or atonement, for sins.
Heavenly beings described as having multiple wings and both human and animal form. They are presented in Scripture as directly serving God. Carved representations of cherubim were placed on the ark of the covenant, and they were embroidered on the tabernacle’s curtains. Solomon’s Temple contained huge figures of cherubim.
(1) Another name for the town of Bethlehem where David was born. (2) Part of the city of Jerusalem. (3) The entire walled city of Jerusalem.
To set apart something or someone to serve God in a special way.
An agreement. In the ancient Near East, sometimes covenants were made between two people or groups of people. Both sides decided what the agreement would be. However, in the Bible, the word usually refers to agreements between God and people, when God decides what will be done and the people agree to live by the covenant. The old covenant of law set standards of behavior in order to please God. The new covenant of grace presents God’s forgiveness based on faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The first child born into a family. During Bible times, the firstborn son received special rights and power. He became head of the family after his father died, and he received twice as much money and property as his brothers.
(1) The sky or universe beyond earth. (2) The dwelling place of God, the angels, and those granted salvation.
Altars and locations for worship built on the tops of hills or mountains. Sometimes altars to God were built at high places. However, the high places were usually for the worship of idols. The Israelites were told to destroy the high places in their land where idols were worshiped.
A mixture of spices held together with thick, sticky juice that comes from trees and plants. Incense is burned to make a sweet smell. In the tabernacle and temple, incense was burned on a small golden altar to worship God.
The most important city of Bible times. Jerusalem was the capital of the united kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. The temple was built in Jerusalem, so many people traveled to the city to worship God. In 587 BC, Jerusalem was captured and mostly destroyed by Babylonian armies. The city was rebuilt when the Jews returned after 70 years of exile in Babylon. Jesus taught in the city of Jerusalem, was crucified outside the city wall, was buried near the city, and then rose again. The first Christian church began in Jerusalem after the Holy Spirit came to the believers there.
(1) One of the sons of Jacob and Leah. (2) The descendants of Jacob and Leah’s son of the same name, who became the tribe of Judah. (3) The southern kingdom when the Israelites divided into two separate countries after the death of King Solomon (The northern kingdom was called Israel.)
Descendants of Levi, one of the sons of Jacob and Leah. Some of the Levites were religious teachers. Others took care of the tabernacle and, later, the temple. Only Levites who were descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron could become priests.
A gift of money, time, or other possessions given to God by a person who loves him. In Old Testament times, people brought food and animals to the tabernacle or temple as offerings to God. The offerings were often burned on the altar. Animal offerings were always killed. Their blood symbolized sins being forgiven by death. Christians believe that offering sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins is no longer necessary because Jesus’ death was the once-for-all sacrifice through which our sins can be forgiven. See also Sacrifice.
The people of Philistia, a region along the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. During most of Old Testament history, the Philistines were major competitors with Israel for territory and power. The Philistines, whose origins may be traced to Crete or Greece, were far ahead of the Hebrews in technology, having mastered skills in working with metal. They adopted at least some of the Canaanite gods and often controlled much of ancient Israel, until a series of decisive defeats at the hand of David. Still, battles with Judah and Israel continued for centuries.
Among the Jews, a man who offered prayers and sacrifices to God for the people. Priests led the public worship services at the tabernacle and later at the temple. Often the priests also taught the Law of God to the people. The priests of Israel were all descendants of Aaron’s family. All Christians are also priests (see 1 Peter 2:9). We are to help others learn about and worship God.
A gift or offering given to God. A sacrifice usually involved killing an animal to pay for sin. The New Testament tells us that Jesus died as the once-for-all sacrifice for sinners and that no further sacrifices for sin are necessary.
The permanent place in Jerusalem where the Jews worshiped God. The first temple was built by King Solomon and the people by following the instructions God had given Solomon’s father, King David. The temple was a very beautiful place. It was destroyed and rebuilt twice. In AD 64, the temple was destroyed again but was not rebuilt.
This content is from What the Bible Is All About, written by Henrietta Mears. Copyright © 1953, 2011 by Gospel Light. Copyright assigned to Tyndale House Publishers, 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
The following insights are from pastors and scholars who have spent significant time studying the book of Chronicles.
Chronicles begins with 9 chapters of genealogies (of lists of names) and you might think reading them is like torture (and it kind of is). It might seem very boring to you. But what the author is doing is he is summarizing the storyline of the Old Testament by telling you all of the main characters, listing the main characters through the story. And as the author shapes the genealogies in these chapters, he highlights two lines within the people of Israel specifically. One is the line of Judah, which is the line that leads to David and is the line that is going to lead to the Messiah… the other line of people the author traces is the descendants of Aaron and of the priesthood and that’s because the author is waiting for a restoration of a new temple, and so he’s going to highlight that theme as he retells the story.
Source: Tim Mackie, quoted from his video, “1 & 2 Chronicles ‘The Bible in Five [31 of 49] Tim Mackie (The Bible Project),” from the Eat the Book video series.
Remember that the genealogies in the Old Testament are always working to communicate multiple layers of information to readers. Genealogies obviously trace family trees, but they also help us follow priestly and royal lines through Israel’s story. You can see each of these types of genealogies in the first nine chapters of Chronicles.
Source: BibleProject Team, quoted from their article “Jesus & Genealogies: Hope Has Arrived,” published by BibleProject at bibleproject.com
The Chronicler’s viewpoint reflects the perspective of God and the ideology of the Hebrew Bible, making Chronicles a theological commentary on Israelite history.
—Andrew E. Hill
Source: Andrew E. Hill, quoted from his book, 1 And 2 Chronicles from the series, The NIV Application Commentary Series, published by Zondervan Academic.
Placed at the end of “The Writings” section of the Old Testament, it serves as the bookend of the Hebrew Bible. But it’s no mere rehashing of other historical books. It’s not simply supplemental material to Samuel and Kings. No, just as each of the four Gospels has a shape and theology, so does the book of Chronicles. Both the “Chronicler” and God the Holy Spirit want us to see things from a unique perspective.
The Chronicler writes a history that begins with Adam and ends in Persia. He quotes from the Law, Prophets, and Writings, and gives Spirit-inspired theological insight that helpfully highlights key themes and promises in light of all the Old Testament.
Source: Garrett Connor, quoted from his article “4 Reasons You Should Preach Through 1 & 2 Chronicles,” published by 9Marks on August 9, 2018 at 9marks.org.
Sometimes we are tempted to skip over Chronicles in our Bible reading. After all, doesn’t it mostly just cover the same material as Kings? Been there, done that. But if you have seen both the classic 1966 Batman movie, as well as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, then you know: sometimes the reboot is worth watching. Chronicles is a reboot. It is not just the same old material; it has a new tone, a new message, new truth about God to communicate. And if you skip this part of the Bible, you will miss out on that.
Source: 1-2 Chronicles: A 12-Week Study © 2015 by James Duguid. All rights reserved. Used by
permission of Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
In telling the story of the God of history, and more specifically the God of Israel’s history, this biography reveals who God is and what he has done for Israel and ultimately for all the nations. Once we have entered into God’s presence through the literary portal of “salvation history” as narrated in Chronicles, what can our response be but one of praise and thanksgiving!
—Andrew E. Hill
Source: Andrew E. Hill in his book, 1 And 2 Chronicles from the series, The NIV Application Commentary Series, published by Zondervan Academic.
The people of God need to know what they are and what they are meant to be, in a society which, if it interests itself in them at all, will want only to use them for its own worldly ends. And when they question what they, the people of God, are, the Chronicler’s answer is to remind them of what they have been. The ‘changes and chances of this fleeting world’ tend to disconcert the church of God; and understanding of the great continuities will reassure and inspire it. For at bottom the nature and calling of the church are no different now from what they always were. I say ‘the church’; for that perpetual ‘now’ enables us to associate ourselves directly with the Chronicler’s own generation. By the very terms of his argument, the principles he is going to set forth apply equally to all his readers, ancient and modern, and are in no way affected by the mere lapse of centuries. Hence his prescription for those who, like a plant growing on rocky ground, are scorched and withered in the heat of circumstance: ‘What you need is roots.’ Or rather, they feel rootless; and he wants them to be aware of, and to learn to draw up nourishment through, the roots which do in fact exist.
Source: Michael Wilcock, quoted from his book, The Message of Chronicles, from the series, The Bible Speaks Today.
In the Hebrew canon of Scripture, 1 and 2 Chronicles formed a single volume called “The matters of the days [of the kings of Judah and Israel]” (i.e., “The annals of the kings of Judah and Israel”). The translators of the Greek Septuagint, the 3rd-to-2nd-century BC Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, gave Chronicles the title Paraleipomena, meaning “things left over,” implying their use as a supplement to Samuel and Kings. Jerome (c. AD 340-420) called them “a chronicle of the whole and sacred history” from Adam to Cyrus (539 BC), hence their English name. Chronicles is a summary of Hebrew history that duplicates much of the books of Samuel and of Kings, but it focuses more on the spiritual deeds and misdeeds of the kings and on the importance of worshiping the Lord properly through the ministry of the priests and the Temple.
Source: This content is from What the Bible Is All About, written by Henrietta Mears. Copyright © 1953, 2011 by Gospel Light. Copyright assigned to Tyndale House Publishers, 2015. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Chronicles was written after Israel’s return from exile. The Jews were back in the land, rebuilding the temple and the city, but they were vulnerable to enemies in the land and in the Persian court. Though a historical book, Chronicles also set out a program for the future. If the Jews were to flourish in the new imperial world, they needed to learn from Chronicles. Among the most important lessons were these: organize and sing.
We too are politically and culturally vulnerable and would do well to absorb the lessons of Chronicles. If the church is going to survive and flourish under these pressures, we can’t be satisfied with inchoate or sloppy church government. We won’t be equipped for witness or spiritual war by sentimental songs. We need faithful men who govern effectively, and we need to learn to sing psalms, the war songs of the Lamb.
Source: Peter Leithart, quoted from his article, “Who Needs Chronicles? We Do.” Published by The Gospel Coalition at tgc.org.
2 Chronicles was written after the exile and addressed two questions the post-exile community was asking. (1) “How did we lose the Lord’s favor?” And (2) “How do we get it back?” Looking at the Judah’s kings answers both questions. Judah lost the Lord’s favor because they disregarded God’s law. They can get it back by humble repentance and obedience. These were the lessons for the returning exiles and for us.
Source: Kevin DeYoung, quoted from his article, “Kings of Judah: A House Divided,” published by The Gospel Coalition at tgc.org.
Discover music inspired by the message and content of the book of Chronicles.