Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

1 Chronicles 1:1 Adam and his sons

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, August 28, 2023

1   C H R O N I C L E S

The book of Chronicles is, like Kings and Samuel, divided into two parts in our translations. It is a look back at the history of the people of Judah. It was written after (or largely after) the people returned from their captivity in Babylon. The closing words of the book are the proclamation from Cyrus king of Persia: “The LORD, the God of Heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build for him a temple at Jerusalem in Judah. Whoever of his people that are among you, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up.” (2 Chronicles 36:23).

Although Cyrus allowed other captive peoples to return home, the significance for the Jews was that they were once again restored to the Promised Land, and there they would await the coming of the Savior, promised from the very earliest times. The first promise of the Messiah, sometimes called the protevangel or “First Gospel,” was given as God was expelling Adam and Eve from Eden and speaking this curse to the devil: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15).

The author appears to be Ezra, and I might refer to him this way, but of course Ezra did not sign the book, and I would not insist that the reader or listener would be compelled to agree with me on this detail.

1-2 Chronicles is a history of God’s people, but the focus of the book is on the temple, and we could even make a case that it is the history of God’s people leading up to the building of the second temple, which is to say, the third tabernacle of worship to the true God. The emphasis of the book is on the hand of God among his people. Where Samuel and Kings faithfully recorded what happened, Chronicles is more interested in the theological explanation of why these things happened.

From chapter 10 through the end of 2 Chronicles, the outline of the book is essentially the list of the kings of Judah from David to Zedekiah. In the first eight chapters, there is a list of God’s people through their family heads. First, the list is from Adam to Esau (chapter 1). Then, the tribes of Israel are listed (chapters 2-8). 1 Chronicles 9:35-44 is the genealogy of Saul (this leads into David’s account in chapter 10), but 9:1-34 is far removed from the surrounding material, being a list of the returning exiles from captivity more than five hundred years after David’s reign.

The original readers of the book were from that 9:35-44 group. They did not necessarily think of the book or of themselves and glorious, nor as the crown of God’s creation. They had come shuffling back from a seventy-year captivity. The remaining prophets kept telling them that they were falling back into the same sins that got them exiled in the first place. They no longer had a king, nor could they raise one up (it would have been a rebellion against their Persian benefactor). If they looked at themselves honestly, they would have seen that nothing they did or said merited God’s love or grace. Yet God had been merciful. Ezra (our author) sets out to show this dejected but loved people of God that this has always been true: God loves us, but not because of who we are, or because of the good things we do or say. God loves us, rather, because God loves, he chooses to love. And in this loving grace and loving kindness of his, he forgives man’s sin on account of the approaching Savior who would pay the penalty for every sin of everyone for all time, once, for all.The genealogies and the histories of this book are a reminder and an illustration that God is gracious to man, even though man does not deserve God’s love.

1 Adam, Seth, Enosh,

Our author takes us back to the time of Adam with the simplest possible words: Adam, Seth, Enosh. Adam the first man was given great gifts by God. Adam was not a grunting ignoramus with bad teeth and bad grammar. Adam and his wife were given clothing made of sewn animal hides when God removed them from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:21). Adam’s intellect had been used by God to name and categorize the animal kingdom. “Whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name” (Genesis 2:19). Adam created the first poetry and music when he first saw his wife. Adam was not a mere observer in the world, like a shipwrecked mariner who must cope with having none of the conveniences of his former life. Adam was the lord of the world into which God placed him. He was the one God spoke to directly. He was made to rule the animals and the plant kingdom. He knew and understood their natures. The ground labored for Adam, not the other way around, in the beginning. But sin changed everything. After the fall, the ground produced thorns as well as delicious fruit. The plants brought forth thistles as well as flowers. Adam could no longer walk along and pick his dinner with his eyes closed, and always be delighted by what he picked. Now, after he and Eve fell into sin, he would have to work hard for their food and clothing and shelter, and their family would not be ideal.

After Adam and Eve’s firstborn son Cain killed his younger brother Abel, God gave them more and more children. After many years, they had a certain son that they named Seth. Of all their children (perhaps as many as sixty or seventy—more about this later), we have the names of only three. Seth is the one who would carry the line of the Savior.

“Seth” is not the Hebrew spelling of the Egyptian god Set (Sutekh); rather, it means either “granted” or “substitute.” He was born when Adam was 130 years old (Genesis 5:3).

When Seth’s son Enosh was born (Adam was by now 235; Seth was a mature 105, Genesis 5:6), men “began to call on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:26). This meant that men began to go out of their way to preach and share the gospel. After 235 years, the world was becoming filled with people. With more than nine generations born and raised, the thousands of people in Seth’s family line were beginning to encounter the thousands of people in Cain’s family line, and the need to share the message of forgiveness was more and more obvious as they saw so many who, as Paul says, “live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.” (Philippians 3:18-19).

After Enosh died, 1,140 years after God formed Adam from the red clay of Eden, there was an emptiness in the world. Adam had died. Sin and death were the things common to all mankind. But by this time, Enoch, the great-great grandson of Enosh, was already taken up into heaven—the promise of life after death, a heaven even more beautiful and blessed than the Eden they were forbidden from re-entering, was there in the promise of the protevangel and the story of Enoch.

A savior from sin! Everything in Chronicles points us back to this; to him. The Savior is the descendant of these men: Christ traces his human lineage back through them: Adam, Seth, Enosh.

And we find our forgiveness and our eternal salvation in Christ.


Seth was not born until Adam and Eve were 130 years old. How many thousands were in the family line by that time, when Seth was born? Obviously, young men and women were limited in their choices of a spouse. In the early years, there were no other choices apart from brothers marrying sisters. Later, cousins could have been chosen. The laws preventing marriages with such close relatives were not given by God until many centuries later in the law of Moses (Leviticus 18:9, 20:19).

A few years ago, I asked a mathematician friend of mine (now a professor at Martin Luther College) to calculate the number of people who might have been alive at this time. We tried to keep our criteria conservative and manageable. No girl would be married before she was 18 (this is a very conservative estimate). Wives would probably produce babies every other year, including Eve herself, up until Eve’s 130th year. For ease of calculation, we assumed that every first child would be a boy, and then every even-numbered baby would be a girl for each mother and (except for Abel) every odd-numbered baby would be another boy. A further judgment was that we assumed there would be no twins or multiple-child births.

The calculation came out this way. In the 130th year, Adam and Eve could have had:

66 children (32 girls)
784 grandchildren (406 girls)
4,600 great-grandchildren (2,300 girls)
13,300 great-great grandchildren (7,315 girls)
17,136 great-great-great grandchildren (8,568 girls)
8,008 great^4 grandchildren (5,005 girls)
660 great^5 grandchildren (330 girls)
And one great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter born in the same year as her great-great-great-great-great-granduncle Seth.

This would make a total of 36,547 descendants. By adding Adam and Eve and subtracting poor Abel, we find a world population of 36,548 people in that 130th year, assuming no one died of any causes as yet apart from the one described in Genesis 4:8.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith
About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please visit the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church website.


Browse Devotion Archive