Introduction to 1 and 2 Chronicles

Key Facts and Major Themes for the 13th and 14th Books of the Bible

Bible reading in the woods
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There must not have been very many marketing professionals in the ancient world. That's the only reason I can think of for allowing a section of the most popular, best-selling book in the world to be called "Chronicles."

I mean, so many of the other books in the Bible have catchy, attention-grabbing names. Look at "1 and 2 Kings," for example. That's the kind of title you might find on a magazine rack in the grocery market these days. Everyone loves the royals! Or think about "The Acts of the Apostles." That's a name with some pop. The same is true for "Revelation" and "Genesis" -- both words that invoke mystery and suspense.

But "Chronicles"? And worse: "1 Chronicles" and "2 Chronicles"? Where's the excitement? Where's the pizzazz?

Actually, if we can get past the boring name, the books of 1 and 2 Chronicles contain a wealth of important information and helpful themes. So let's jump in with a brief introduction to these interesting and significant texts.


We aren't exactly sure who wrote 1 and 2 Chronicles, but many scholars believe the author was Ezra the priest -- the same Ezra credited with writing the Book of Ezra. In fact, 1 and 2 Chronicles was most likely part of a four-book series that also included Ezra and Nehemiah. This view is consistent with both Jewish and Christian tradition.

The author of Chronicles operated in Jerusalem after the return of the Jews from their exile in Babylon, which means he was likely a contemporary of Nehemiah -- the man who championed the effort to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Thus, 1 and 2 Chronicles were likely written around 430 - 400 B.C.

One interesting piece of trivia to note about 1 and 2 Chronicles is that they were originally intended to be one book -- one historical account. This account was probably divided into two books because the material wouldn't fit on a single scroll. Also, the last few verses of 2 Chronicles mirror the first verses from the Book of Ezra, which is another indicator that Ezra was indeed the author of Chronicles.

Even More Background

As I mentioned earlier, these books were written after the Jews returned to their home following many years in exile. Jerusalem had been conquered by Nebuchadnezzar, and many of the best and brightest minds in Judah had been taken away to Babylon. After the Babylonians were defeated by the Medes and Persians, the Jews were eventually allowed to return to their homeland.

Obviously, this was a bittersweet time for the Jewish people. They were thankful to be back in Jerusalem, but they also lamented the poor condition of the city and their relative lack of security. What's more, the citizens of Jerusalem needed to reestablish their identity as a people and reconnect as a culture.

Main Themes

1 and 2 Chronicles tell the stories of many well-known Bible characters, including David, Saul, Samuel, Solomon, and so on. The beginning chapters include several genealogies -- including a record from Adam to Jacob, and a list of David's descendants. These can feel a little boring to modern readers, but they would have been vital and affirming to the people of Jerusalem in that day attempting to reconnect with their Jewish heritage.

The author of 1 and 2 Chronicles also went to great lengths to show that God is in control of history, and even of other nations and leaders outside of Jerusalem. In other words, the books make a point to show that God is sovereign. (See 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, for example.)

The Chronicles also emphasize God's covenant with David, and more specifically with David's household. This covenant was originally established in ​1 Chronicles 17, and God confirmed it with David's son, Solomon, in 2 Chronicles 7:11-22. The major idea behind the covenant was that God had chosen David to establish His house (or His Name) on earth and that David's lineage would include the Messiah -- whom we know today as Jesus.

Finally, 1 and 2 Chronicles emphasize the holiness of God and our responsibility to worship Him appropriately. Look at ​1 Chronicles 15, for example, to see both the care David took to obey God's Law as the Ark of the Covenant was carried into Jerusalem and his ability to worship God without abandon in celebration of that event.

All in all, 1 and 2 Chronicles helps us understand the Jewish identity of God's people in the Old Testament, as well as delivering a large chunk of Old-Testament history.