James D. Strauss

Foundational Theology: Theology of Promise Theme:

 

Elijah and The Promise: The Promise of the Arrival of Elijah

in Malachi and the Gospels Text: Malachi 3.1; 4.4-5

 

I. Frequency of Old Testament Persons in the New Testament:

 

1.     Moses - 80 times

2.     Abraham - 73 times

3.     David - 59 times

4.     Elijah - 29/30 times - textual problem in Lk 9.54 - TDNT, 2, (1964): 934

 

II. Six Major and Explicit References to Elijah in The Gospels:  (Cf. Aland’s Synopsis)

 

1.     Jesus’ identification as Elijah by contemporaries - Mk 6.14-16; Lk 9.7-9

2.     Jesus as Elijah - His Disciples (Popular Confusion) - Matt 16.13-20; Mk 8.27-30; Lk 9.18-21

3.     Confusion persists to the crucifixion - Matt 27.45-49; Mk 15.33-36

4.     Mount of Transfiguration - Matt 17.1-19; Mk 9.2-10; Lk 9.28-36

5.     Two other references refering to the future coming of Elijah - Matt 17.10-14 (“Elijah had

          come”); Mk 9.11-13

6.     None of these references are present in John - Jn 1.21-24 where John denies that he is the

          prophet or Elijah

 

III. Crucial Hermeneutical Issues:

 

1.     Identity of the coming messenger or future prophet

2.     The time of his coming

3.     The tasks assigned to him (cf. M. M. Faierstein, “Why Do The Scribes Say That Elijah Must

Come First?” JBL IOO, 1981), esp. p. 86; J. H. Hughes, “John the Baptist: The Forerunner of God Himself,” Novum Testamentum 13 (1972), esp. p. 212; see 4 Qar P (p VWF’ale/stein, “Elijah”); J. Starcky, “Les Quatre Etapes du Messianisme a Qumran,” Revue Biblique 70 (1963): 489-505; L. Ginzberg,  An Unknown Jewish Sect (NY: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1976) - lists 18 texts of Talmudic discussion in N.14 on p. 212; H. Danby, The Mishnah (Oxford 1958) on Elijah; J. G. Baldwin, Haggai, Malachi (Tyndale OT).

4.     “Where is the God of justice” - Mai 2.17

5.     He comes to ‘His Temple’ - Mai 3.1

6.     He is named “Messenger of the Covenant” - compare with Zech 4.14; 6.5. The Ttitle “Angel/

          Messenger of The Covenant,” is found nowhere else in the Old Testament

7.     OT Christophanies - “Angel of God’s own self-revelation - Ex 23.20-23; 33.15; Isa 63.9 (see

          Kaiser, Toward OT Theology, (Gen 16.7; 22.11,15; Jud

8.     Covenant is the same one made with Israel - Ex 25.8; Lev 26.11-12; Dt 4.23; Isa 33.14; Jer

          31.31-34 (Heb 8.7-13; 9.15) Mai 6.1 - 2.9; 2.11; 3.5,8

9.     Connection between the announcer’s task and the work of The Lord - Isa 40.3; Ps 80.9 (for

discussion of Christian history of interpretation of NT identity of Elijah see E. B. Pusey, Minor Prophets (Baker reprint 1950), pp. 499-502; and E. W. Hengstenberg, Old Testament Christology (Kregel reprint} 4, pp. 195-200

10. Day of Yahweh - Mai 3-2; 4.1,5; Joel 2.11,31,32; Zeph 1.4; Isa 13.5; Zech 14.1,8,9; II Pet

           3.10 (see Beecher Propheis “and Promise, p. 311)

 

IV.  John The Baptist and New Testament Fulfillment:

 

Three basic answers have been given-

 

1.     John fulfilled the promise

2.     Elijah the Tisbite will personally reappear and minister once again at the end of this age

3.     John is the fulfillment, but he came in “the spirit and power of Elijah” and is thus one of the

          forerunners of the Messianic coming

          a.     Matt 11.14 (11.10/Lk 7.27)

          b.     Yet John denies that he is Elijah -Jn l.21, 23/Lk 1.17

4.     Fulfillment - generic or specific - exhaustive fulfillment?

5.     New Elijah’s Task? - Mk 9.12; Matt 17.11 (erchetai/apokatastesei) Acts 3.21

          a.     Restoration of what? Israel?

          b.     Parousia

          c.     Limit of the ‘Day of Yahweh’ to the second advent and the parousia?

6.     Single/Double fulfillment of prophecy? Inspiration and original intention of Mai 3.1. The

          meaning is singular, not Sensus Plenior of prophecies of the type found in Mai 3.1 and 1.5-6.