Who was greater, Elijah or Elisha?

We are taught about Elijah's miracles (7 to 9, depending upon how we interpret the drought) in I Kings 17 through 2 Kings 2.

We read about Elisha in 2 Kings 2-13.  Elisha worked approximately twice as many miracles as Elisha (14 if you count the miracle worked when a dead men had contact with his bones). He also had a "double portion" of the Spirit (or spirit, depending upon how you interpret his granted request).

Some commentators understand Elijah to foreshadow the ministry of John the Baptist (and possibly one of the two witnesses of Revelation, for those who us who take a futurist view), while seeing Elisha as the greater, more gracious miracle worker foreshadowing Jesus (multiplying loaves, etc in 2 Kings 2:42-44). Obviously, if you hold this viewpoint, Elisha is the greater.

Elijah was taken alive to glory, Elisha was not. While Catholics who have visions typically have visions of Mary and Protestants of Jesus, Jews who have visions typically have one of Elijah.

Which do you think is the greater (in the sense of closer to God), Elijah or Elisha?  What thoughts do you have?

Part of my motivation in asking this is my viewpoint that Elijah gets all the attention while Elisha is seen in the shadow of Elijah.  Yet, studying Elisha's life, he actually seems to have the more monumental ministry.

So your opinion should reflect your OVERALL viewpoint.  You might, for example, think Elijah was greater in this way and Elisha in that, which is fair enough. 


Elijah was probably greater than Elisha.
20% (3 votes)
Elisha was probably greater than Elisha.
27% (4 votes)
I have no opinion or "Who cares?"
40% (6 votes)
They were probably roughly equal.
13% (2 votes)
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 15
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pvawter's picture

Now here's a poll that could stir things up.
"Elijah's the greater prophet? You heretic!"
"You think Elisha's greater? I challenge you to a duel! Choose your weapon."

Aaron Blumer's picture


On miracles alone, it would be hard to say, but the questions is, what does the text encourage us to believe about Elijah and Elisha? 

The flow of events from Elijah's retirement to replacement followed by the chronicles of Elisha's achievements appear to be shaped intentionally to communicate that God chose to do more through Elisha. It's not about personal greatness, of course. But there are character elements, still. Elisha has no juniper tree scene.

And there is 2 Kings 2:9.

So the question matters because there is something we're to learn about serving God based on the narrative.