Parallels between Peter and the prophets

“So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up” (Acts 9:39-40).

Tabitha’s miraculous resurrection from the dead in the upper room by the hands of Peter is told with phrases and themes taken from stories of Elijah and Elijah, both of whom were also called to upper rooms to raise people from the dead (1 Kings 17:19-23; 2 Kings 4:21-22, 32-47). Identifying these parallels is quite crucial for understanding the meaning of these New Testament miracles in their canonical context. By virtue of these analogies to Elijah and Elisha, Peter is identified as a man of God, a true prophet, who truthfully speaks the word of God (see 1 Kings 17:24). Likewise, the larger context in Acts makes clear it is the Lord Jesus who raises Tabitha from the dead (see Acts 9:34-35), thereby drawing a direct analogy between the Lord God of Israel and the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Kings 17:20–21, 24; 2 Kings 4:27–28, 30, 33). Jesus is truly Lord. Finally, Elijah and Elisha ministered at a time when Israel’s leadership had rejected the God of Israel, the true prophets were being terribly persecuted, but God preserved a remnant as a sign of his faithfulness to his promises to Israel (1 Kings 19:14, 18; see Rom 11:2-4); even as the leadership of Israel had rejected Jesus, and the believers were experiencing terrible persecution (see Acts 8:1ff.). These parallels, no doubt, were intended to encourage the early church to persevere, and to trust in all of God’s promises in spite of their earthly struggles. Dear friends, be encouraged – as followers of Jesus living in a world gone mad, we are also part of this same great and hope-filled story!

“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Cor 10:11).

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