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I have often wondered if God deliberately intended for the miracles of Elisha to be a preview of the miracles our Savior would perform, as a way of verification of Jesus Deity.

    • Elijah brought the dead son of the Shunammite back to life in 2 Kings 4:33 thru 35.
    • Jesus brought the daughter of a certain ruler back to life in Matthew 9:24 and 25, and also Lazarus in John 11:43.

    Both were preceded by a prayer.

    • Elijah turned a small amount of oil into an abundance in 2 Kings 4:1-7.
    • Jesus turned water into wine in John 2:1-10.
    • Elisha turned poison stew into good stew to feed a hungry group in 2 Kings 4:38-41, and fed a hundred men with twenty barley loaves and a few ears of corn in 2 Kings 4:42 and 43.
    • Jesus fed 4,000 with a few fishes and loaves in Matthew 14:15-20, and 5,000 in Luke 16 and 17.
    • Elisha cured Naaman of Leprosy in 2 Kings 5:1-14.
    • Jesus cured 10 lepers in Luke 17:11-19.
    • Elisha made an iron axe head float in 2 Kings 6:5-7.
    • Jesus made himself and Peter to walk on water in John 6:19 and 20, and in Matthew 14:25-29.

It seems to me that these miracles are too uncommonly alike to be merely coincidental. Have any prominent theologians or teachers made the same connection?

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I apologize since in reviewing my question I realize that it is asking for an opinion rather than some doctrinal answer. –  BYE Oct 15 '13 at 16:18
    
At first I thought you were asking about Elijah, but you are talking about Elisha... Very interesting similarities and I believe that they were a foreshadowing of the miracles of Jesus. –  jlaverde Oct 15 '13 at 16:24
    
@ Ryan Frame Thanks for the edits they really helped. –  BYE Oct 15 '13 at 20:11
    
all of the works mentioned were performed and enabled by a common will, the will of God the Father. –  Rick Oct 15 '13 at 21:33
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Tim Keller has an awesome sermon series on the similarities. –  Mr. Bultitude Sep 16 '14 at 19:17

3 Answers 3

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Two salient facts should inform the reasoning:

  1. At the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus was shown to be in league with the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah).

  2. Elisha had asked to receive a "double share" of Elijah's gifts - and that was granted. Elisha performed many of the same miracles that had accompanied Elijah's ministry.

Jesus, then, was shown to be a prophet performing the same miracles as a prophet. That these miracles were similar would have the effect of showing that Jesus was fully a prophet (in addition to being fully the lawgiver and fully God) in a way that would have made sense to those who already knew the works and role of the prophets from the Ketuv'im.

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John the Baptist came in the Spirit and power of Elijah.

Elisha had double the portion of Elijah's Spirit and succeeded him.

Following the same line of thought we can say Elisha was a type of Christ.

Jesus succeeded John the Baptist and he had "Spirit without measure".

One more similarity between Elisha and Jesus would be that people obtained life through their deaths. In Elisha's case a dead man was thrown into the grave of Elisha and upon touching the bones he came alive. The death of Jesus is the assurance of everlasting life to all his followers.

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The miracles of Elisha and those of Jesus are sufficiently dissimilar that they are not really genuine coincidences. For example, in the case of Elisha (2 Kings 4:32-35):

32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

Compare this to Matthew 9:23-25, to see that there is very little in common between the two miracles (and only the miracle by Elisha was preceded by prayer):

When Jesus arrived at the official's house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, "Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping." 16 And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose.

The passage in 2 Kings 4:32-35 arguably has more in common with Acts 12:10, in which Paul is said to have resuscitated a boy, since both Elisha and Paul are reported to have lain on the child in order to resurrect her or him (and both were followed by talk of food):

And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.

Whether the rather modest similarities between Acts 12:10 and 2 Kings 4:32-35 were deliberately intended, either by God or by the author of Acts can only be a matter of speculation.

If God intended 2 Kings 4:1-7, 4:38-41, 5:1-14 and 6:5-7 to preview or foreshadow the events described in John 2:1-10, Matthew 14:15-20, Luke 17:11-19 and John 6:19-20 respectively, I could not imagine him making the parallels so obscure that they went unnoticed for so many centuries. Turning water into wine at a wedding hardly evokes turning oil into an abundance; feeding thousands with loaves and fishes hardly evokes turning poison stew into good stew; curing lepers was a quite common claim or achievement in biblical times; making an iron axe head float in somehow unlike walking on water. The similarities are so minor and questionable that I believe the only reasonable conclusion is that the events described for Elisha are neither coincidences nor intended to foreshadow the life of Jesus.

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All of what you say is correct, however, please remember that all Jews were familiar with the Pentateuch and the Prophets. They were taught them from an early age, and they would have been apt to see those similarities. Jesus wanted the people to associate him with the prophets and even likened his death and resurrection to Jonas three days in the belly of the fish. –  BYE Apr 21 at 11:15

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