Paul’s Use Of Elijah’s Mt. Horeb Experience in Rom 11:2-6: An Exegetical Note -- By: Michael G. Vanlaningham
MSJ 6:2 (Fall 95) p. 223
Paul’s Use Of Elijah’s Mt. Horeb Experience in Rom 11:2-6:
An Exegetical Note
Paul’s use of 1 Kgs 19:10–18 in Rom 11:2–6 has an important role in his proof that God has not cast off His people Israel. His main dependence is upon the Massoretic Text rather than the Septuagint. He makes a number of changes in his adaptation of the OT passage, none of which violates the meaning of the OT context. Despite apparent parallels between Elijah and Moses in the OT, the 1 Kings passage does not elevate Elijah to the level of Moses in God’s plan. Rather it emphasizes the sovereignty of God at work to preserve a remnant. Paul’s theological emphasis in Rom 11:2–6 is upon God’s preservation of a remnant of Jews through grace, not human merit. Through this means He guards against the total loss of the people of Israel.
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The prophet Elijah has an important place in both testaments, and has attracted moderate attention from NT scholars.2 One of the references to Elijah that has not attracted as much attention (and rightly so) is Paul’s reference in Rom 11:2–6 to the pericope involving Elijah on
MSJ 6:2 (Fall 95) p. 224
Mt. Horeb (1 Kgs 19:10–18). Though this NT citation of an OT text is not as theologically problematic as other references to Elijah, it nevertheless has a pivotal position in Paul’s argument in Romans 11. It supports his case that God has not cast off His people. It therefore deserves careful attention.
This exegetical note purposes to examine the textual, hermeneutical, exegetical, and theological details of 1 Kgs 19:10, 14, and 18 in their context, and then to determine why Paul used the verses in his apologia of Rom 11:2–6 and what the OT verses add to his argument.
Textual and Hermeneutical Factors
When one examines the MT, LXX, and Paul’s citation in Rom 11:3–4, more agreement between Paul’s text and the MT is apparent than between either of these and the LXX. Several notable differences between the NT and MT passages occur, h...
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