Life from the Grave: Elisha’s Death as an Anticipation of Jesus’ Resurrection

In the context of 1-2 Kings, the prophet Elisha serves as the Spirit-empowered man of God who walks with God, represents God, and points the way to covenant faithfulness with God through word and deed. Elisha shows Israel who God really is, particularly when compared to the false gods the people are choosing to worship, and he shows them the kind of life they too can experience through the power and presence of God. While Elisha does this throughout his life and ministry, he particularly exemplifies it in his death, as 2 Kings 13:20-21 describes. Thus, even in death, Elisha remains Spirit-empowered, and the Spirit works through him to bring life to others.
In a canonical context, however, Elisha’s death is not simply the last in a series of miracles, but an anticipation of the ultimate miracle, the life-giving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like Elisha, Jesus’s death brings life; unlike Elisha, Jesus’s death brings eternal life because it inaugurates the long-awaited new covenant, which brings an entirely new kind of life, lived in and through the permanent power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’s death inaugurates the new covenant because he doesn’t remain dead, instead rising from the grave in the power of the Holy Spirit and then pouring out the Holy Spirit upon the church at Pentecost, offering life in the Spirit to all who come to him by faith. Elisha’s final miracle, his life-giving death, is therefore properly understood as a preview of what all who come to Jesus will experience through Jesus’ death and resurrection: life from the grave.
This paper will demonstrate this is the intended understanding of 2 Kings 13:20-21 in three ways. First, it will establish the evidence and importance of the Spirit’s role in Elisha’s life and ministry, indicating how Elisha’s miracles were performed in the power of the Spirit, including his last one. Second, it will examine 2 Kings 13:20-21 in particular, demonstrating how this passage illustrates the life-giving power of God’s Spirit through God’s man. Finally, this paper will establish how Jesus’ death and resurrection fulfills Elisha’s life-giving death, making our eternal life in the Spirit possible.
In establishing the purpose of Elisha’s death in anticipating the life-giving death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, this paper will give insight into the purpose of Elisha’s life and ministry not only within 1-2 Kings, but also within the canon as a whole. Elisha’s life, ministry, and death in the Spirit serve as a preview of what life with God could look like under the new covenant, and Jesus makes the preview a reality for all who turn from their sin and turn toward God on the basis of his death and resurrection.

6 thoughts on “Life from the Grave: Elisha’s Death as an Anticipation of Jesus’ Resurrection”

  1. Shultz Jr., Life from the Grave: Elisha’s Death as an Anticip
    Pushes in an interesting direction, and I think the BT is on-track and that the Spirit-element in 2 Kings is under-appreciated.

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