A floating axe head??? (part 1)


What are some ways that people have interpreted 2 Kings 6:1-7?

2 Kings 6:1-7 is a surprising passage on a number of levels. This passage ranks as such a surprise that many commentators mock it, pointing to it as evidence that much of the Old Testament is legend. They scoff at the idea that iron can float. But evangelical Christians also have a difficult time with the passage for a different reason–what does it mean? Why would God include it in the the record of Scripture? What are some fairly common views of this passage?

It's typically treated by allegorizing or moralizing the passage.


  • We are the axe head (sunk in sin). Elijah is God the Father. The stick is Jesus sent to raise us.
  • The stick is the cross.
  • The axe head is the Holy Spirit, which we must keep close by, sharp, and ready to use. We lose the power of the Holy Spirit, and it’s like losing your axe head.
  • The axe head is the Word of God – a two-headed axe we use to build the church.
  • The axe head = little problems in life that God cares about.
  • Note the difference between allegory and analogy (something = something vs. parallels between two things)

Moralistic teaching:

  • The passage is about Christian education (faith based education) – “school of the prophets”
  • “Keep your tools in shape and be prepared to work hard”
  • Warning against unpaid labor – “you get what you pay for”

These are all attempts to understand the significance of this passage. So how do we work through this? The good news is that we don't have to make Scripture say anything more than it says. God's Word is sufficient when we understand what it says. From this passage we will learn that we should trust in God's sovereign care for His people even in the darkest times.



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