The Spirits of Elisha & Elijah
NCW 33, April 1996 (Part II)
Q. In many of the early writings of the New Covenant mention is made of the "spirit of Elijah" and the "spirit of Elias". Please would you explain what these are and who "Elias" is. Is "Elias" in fact "Elisha"? The "spirit of Elias" is always made out to be inferior to the "spirit of Elijah", but didn't Elisha have twice the amount of Spirit of Elijah? Why didn't "Elias" appear along with Elijah at the transfiguration of Jesus?
There is a striking resemblance between the prophets Elijah and Elisha in the Scriptures and they do indeed appear to be reflections of one another. Both struck the waters of the Jordan River and passed over dry ground (2 Ki.2:8; 2:14); both brought waters of refreshment in times of drought (1 Ki.17:18:41-45; 2 Ki.3:9-20); both increased a widow's supply of food (1 Ki.17:10-16; 2 Ki.4:1-7); both raised only sons of life (1 KI.17:17-24; 2 Ki.4:18-35); both performed miracles for persons outside the boundaries of Israel (1 KI.17:9-16; 2 Ki.5:1-15); both pronounced sentences on kings (1 Ki.21:19-22; 2 Ki.8:7-10); and both called down vengeance on unbelievers (2 Ki.1:9-12; 2:23-25).
Yet despise these similarities, each prophet had a very different temprement and attitude. Elijah was a solitary figure like John the Baptist and his life was largely spent in an unavailing struggle against the evils of his times. He had periods of great depression.
Elisha was completely different in these respects. His "double portion of the Spirit" enabled him to lead a triumphant life as he mixed with other people. There is no record of him ever complaining, fleeing from his enemies, or losing courage. Even on his deathbed he seemed to be full of power and gave commands to a king.
Elijah was a type of John the Baptist and of the old Aaronic Priesthood in which he ministered. Elisha, by contrast, with the "double portion of the Spirit", is a type of the Priesthood of Christ, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.
"Elias" is the Greek for the Hebrew "Elijah" and appears thus in the New Testament in older translations of the Bible like the King James Version. This has caused some Bible students to erroneously assume that there were two separate persons called "Elisha" and "Elijah", a mistake that has found its way into certain Restoration concepts about Priesthood and which influenced this Church in its early years. According to this mistaken system, "Elias" was some unknown prophet who lived in Abraham's time and who held the keys of the preparatory Aaronic Priesthood, whereas Elijah held the keys to the higher Melchizedek Priesthood.
The New Covenant Church of God teaches the complete reverse -- that Elijah represents the preparatory Aaronic Priesthood (after the Law of Moses, of which John the Baptist was the most noble representative) and Elisha represents the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood (the "double portion" of the Holy Spirit). Elisha is, in many ways, a shadow of Christ (cp. the feeding of the 100 by Elisha with the feeding of the 5,000 by Jesus).
The early writings of this Church perpetuated the Restoration tradition mentioned above by calling the Aaronic Priesthood (Old Covenant) the "spirit of 'Elias'" and the Melchizedek Priesthood (New Covenant) the "spirit of Elijah". This has now been corrected.
The important thing is that there are "two spirits" which are different aspects of the One Spirit, a "higher" and "lower" aspect as follows:
|Old||Aaronic||Elijah||John the Baptist||Lower|
As for the Mount of Transfiguration experience here the purpose was not to reveal different aspects of Priesthood but to show the presiding apostles (Peter, James & John) that the prophets (represented by Elijah) and the [Old] Covenant (represented by Moses) were fulfilled/completed in Jesus. The Messiah was thus seen to "take over" the offices of Elijah and Moses.
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Last updated on 9 May 1998
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