Reflections from the double-portion — A demand of Elijah
In the Old Testament, there is a beautiful story of two prophets, Elijah and Elisha. Elisha is the successor of one of the greatest prophets of the OT, Elijah. My point here is not to speak about their greatness or to give a contemporary interpretation, but what the demand from Elisha to his master, Elijah evokes in me. Elisha wanted the double-portion of the power which Elijah had. In normal understanding, it means that Elisha wanted double the power or the gifts which his master possessed. In reading their stories, we will discover that Elijah surely was the greatest prophets. So this literal understanding of the double power may not make much sense. Even in the New Testament, Elijah (not any other prophet) is taken as the representative of prophets during the transfiguration of Jesus. So another explanation is required. One of the satisfactory explanations is that the father gave the “first-born” two times the property than that is given to others. This was a privilege of the first-born. The double-portion can be read as a symbol of Elisha being the successor or the inheritor of the tradition of Elijah.
In the New Testament, especially in the letters of Paul, Jesus is described as the first-born after his resurrection(Col 1:15, 18). Though Elisha had to ask for that status, it was given to Jesus. Unlike the tradition of Elisha, Jesus’ first-born status is to give others a chance into the fruits of his resurrection. And I think the most important fruits of the resurrection is the holy spirit, the paraclete given to us as helper, guide and the counsellor. Surely this includes the precious chance to be brothers and sisters of Jesus.
As a Christian reading that passage of Elisha asking for the double-part, we can ask for that great gift- the gift of the Holy Spirit; more than the gifts of the spirit, for the fruits of the spirit. That our life may be shining with the fruits of the spirit that others can see or experience God through them. Yes, life in the fruits of the spirit, are the best means of evangelization today. What are those fruits of the spirit — love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I have nothing against the gifts of the spirit, which each of us have in different ways, and some have special gifts too; but they are useless without the fruits of the spirit. Or fruits can sustain without special gifts and not the other way around.
(My thinking was not to give an interpretation for the passage of Elijah-Elisha, but just to share what that passage evoked in me today).