Introduction to 2 Kings

2 Kings Reveals What Happens When Nations Turn Away From God

2 Kings Introduction
In 2 Kings, Elijah is taken to heaven in a whirlwind with horses and a chariot of fire. SuperStock / Getty Images

2 Kings Introduction

God gave his law for the people of Israel to follow. He repeatedly sent prophets to warn of the consequences of sin, but the kings and people of both Israel and Judah ignored them.

2 Kings details nationwide disobedience and God's punishment of the divided kingdoms. The first part of the book records the miracles of the prophet Elisha, successor to Elijah, and a forerunner of Jesus Christ.

Like Jesus, Elisha raised the dead, cured people of leprosy, and multiplied loaves of bread to feed a crowd. Both Elisha and Jesus showed compassion to the powerful and the lowly, a stark lesson that God's kingdom is available to everyone who believes.

As an historical book, 2 Kings documents the reigns of both wicked and godly kings in Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The good kings and prophets could not keep the people on a righteous path, so God used Israel's and Judah's enemies to cause their downfall.

The brutal Assyrians overwhelmed Israel, carrying many of the Jews away, and more than 100 years later, the Babylonians destroyed Judah and took most of its inhabitants into captivity.

Who Wrote 2 Kings?

The books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings were originally one book. While Jewish tradition credits Jeremiah the prophet as the author of 2 Kings, recent Bible scholarship attributes the work to a group of anonymous authors called the Deuteronomists.

2 Kings does follow the theme of Deuteronomy: obedience to God brings blessings, disobedience brings curses.

Date Written

Between 560 and 540 B.C.

Written To

People of Israel, all readers of the Bible.

Landscape of 2 Kings

2 Kings is set in the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

Themes in 2 Kings

Yahweh is the True God who demands obedience from his people. The Lord was determined to stamp out idolatry in Israel and Judah, but the people refused to give it up. God's punishment came down, resulting in destruction and captivity.

God's word is always true and wise. God spoke through his prophets, whose warnings always came to pass. God's Word later became flesh in the New Testament in the person of Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

God is faithful to his people. Despite the destruction of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, God kept his promise to King David, Israel's second king. From the line of David came Jesus Christ, the culmination of God's plan of salvation for the world.

Key Characters in 2 Kings

Elijah, Elisha, Shunammite woman, Naaman, Jezebel, Jehu, Isaiah, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar.

Key Verses

2 Kings 2:11
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (NIV)

2 Kings 17:18-20
So the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left, and even Judah did not keep the commands of the LORD their God. They followed the practices Israel had introduced. Therefore the LORD rejected all the people of Israel; he afflicted them and gave them into the hands of plunderers, until he thrust them from his presence.

(NIV)

2 Kings 24:13-14
As the LORD had declared, Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the LORD. He carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men, and all the craftsmen and artisans-a total of ten thousand. Only the poorest people of the land were left. (NIV)

Outline of 2 Kings

  • Elisha's ministry - 2 Kings 1-8.
  • Acts of the kings of Israel and Judah - 2 Kings 9-16.
  • Israel destroyed and exiled to Assyria - 2 Kings 17.
  • Reigns of kings of Judah - 2 Kings 18-23.
  • Judah is destroyed, sent captive to Babylon - 2 Kings 24-25.

Old Testament Books of the Bible (Index)
New Testament Books of the Bible (Index)