1 Chronicles 1-5

The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles provide a historian’s perspective on events from the reign of King Saul to King Cyrus’s decree allowing a remnant to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. The material often parallels other Old Testament books. But the Chronicler, writing sometime after the exiles had returned to Judah, felt free to interpret events of concern to him. He added information not found in the other historical writings of Israel, omitted some accounts of the books of Samuel and Kings, and sometimes recounted the same events recorded in those books but from a different perspective. The books of Chronicles could thus be viewed as a theological commentary on the history of Israel and especially Judah.

The Chronicler emphasized the royal line of David and the temple of Solomon so as to give his readers a vision for how they could return to the glory days of Israel when, as a people truly united under God, they flourished and were free. The Chronicler’s extensive genealogical records serve to bind all of history together under the umbrella of the nation of Israel, legitimizing the place of the returned exiles within the family tree of Abraham.

In order to stimulate a theological vision in his audience, the Chronicler appealed to history. Was not Israel’s God the Creator of the natural world and humankind? The writer thus began with the first man Adam (1 Chron 1:1), and from him traced the history of God’s image-bearers to the time of King Saul (1 Chron 10:1), the first king of Israel. The Chronicler hoped to persuade the released exiles that they should ardently walk in covenant faithfulness with the Lord and submit to the law of Moses because within the vast history of humankind they were the distinct people of God.

The books of Chronicles underscore the notion that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are a storyline. Stories have development, progress, and drama—and the genealogies of 1 Chronicles foreshadow the genealogical records of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38). Matthew and Luke were trying to persuade no less. They were concerned that all peoples, not just Israel, would know of God’s work in history. In their theological vision, history had not reached its apex during the reign of David or in the return of the exiles, but in the coming of Jesus. Jesus is not only a man, but Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt 1:23b), the eternal “son of God” (Luke 3:38), born in time among humanity. John and Paul persuaded their audiences of the same, saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1), and, “When the completion of the time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law” (Gal 4:4-5). Hebrews summarizes the argument that the theological vision of history finds its culmination only in Christ:

Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb 1:1-3).