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Is John the Baptist Actually Elijah?

December 13, 2010

Is John the Baptist Elijah? Well, that depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is. 🙂 🙂  Please rest assured that your humble author has not become a relativist, neither a lawyer, nor a politician. But the seemingly straight-forward question, Is (was) John the Baptist actually Elijah requires some distinctions and explanations.

Some of you who read this may think the question itself to be a crazy one. “What do you mean is John the Baptist Elijah?!” A little biblical background may help give meaning to the question. Let’s begin in the Old Testament.

Biblical Roots of the Question – On the very last pages of the Old Testament, in the Book of Malachi God both promises and warns that the great and terrible Day of the Lord’s coming was sure to be and that God’s people must be ready for the coming of Lord. It is such an awesome day that God declares he must prepare the people ahead of time by sending Elijah to prepare them. Here is the text:

Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.  But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.  Then you will trample on the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty. “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel. “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.  He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents;  lest I come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:1-6)

So Elijah , it is said, will come again, before the Lord, to prepare the people and save them from the wrath that will follow. Exactly how he will come, or in what form, is not specified. Will it literally be Elijah come back in the flaming chariot that took him up, or is it an allegorical, or figurative Elijah that God will send?

The Book of Sirach has a similar prophecy concerning Elijah’s return:

How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses. You were destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD, To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob. Blessed is he who shall have seen you and who falls asleep in your friendship(Sirach 48:9-11)

This text too lacks specificity as to how Elijah will come and in what form. However, it is directed specifically to Elijah, and that would seem to anticipate a personal return. But here too it is not certain.

These Old Testament Texts surely point to the type of ministry that John the Baptist was undertaking. He called them to repentance just before the Lord’s coming on the scene and thus prepared them to receive him. Although many thought John to be the actual Messiah his denial of being the Messiah caused others to wonder if he were Elijah. This question was specifically put to John by  priests and levites sent from the Jews in Jerusalem:

What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” (John 3:21)

But there is a problem with John’s answer, for Jesus answers quite differently regarding John’s identity.

For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matt 11:13-15)

As they were coming down from the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased.  So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist (Matt 17:10-13; cf also Mark 9:13)

So what are we to make of this seeming conflict between John’s denial and Christ’s affirmation of John’s status as Elijah?

One solution is merely to apply the saying in Latin: Nemo judex in sua causa (no one is a judge in his own case). It is not always possible for us to fully understand our role in God’s kingdom. God has something very specific and very important for all of us to do and we are not always able to fully see this here. In heaven, all will be made plain to us as to our role and place in God’s Kingdom. Hence, although  John the Baptist may not be able to fully see his role, Jesus as God, can and does know that role. So the seeming conflict is resolved in favor of Jesus teaching, for the reason stated. John the Baptist, as the Angel Gabriel said of him: “Will go before Him [The Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17).

However this is not the same as Jesus saying that John the Baptist is Elijah reincarnated, or Elijah come back from heaven whence he was  taken in a fiery chariot. We don’t need to interpret Jesus this literally. Jesus could well be saying that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of the Elijah figure would return, and that he was  in the office or role of Elijah. We have already observed that the Old Testament texts do not specify the manner of Elijah’s “return.” We need not assume a physical return of Elijah. Rather, as Luke 1:17 implies, we can accept a return of the spirit of his mission, his role.

And this leads to a second and happier conclusion that John the Baptist’s  response that he is not Elijah may not, in fact be wrong or in conflict with the Lord’s teaching. It is possible that he interpreted the question literally to mean, “Are you Elijah come back to earth?” To which he rightfully says, “No.”  Jesus however speaks of him in terms of his role, calling him Elijah, not as a personal identification but in terms of  the role he had as the Elijah figure, promised of old.

Hence we are back to the question: Is John the Baptist Elijah? Well that does actually depend on what we mean by “is.” Is John Elijah come back to earth? Likely he is not! Is he Elijah in the sense of having the office of Elijah and going forth in the spirit and power of Elijah? Yes.

The Fathers of the Church generally confirm this approach to John the Baptist and his role as Elijah, not the actual Elijah. But some add a twist. The twist is that they interpret Malachi 4 (quoted above) as referring more to Jesus’ second coming than his first and hold out for a coming of the actual Elijah at that time. This helps explain the references in the Malachi passage to fire and burning judgment which pertain more to the Second Coming. It also helps explain why Jesus said to his disciples Elijah will indeed come (i.e. the actual Elijah, just prior to the Second Coming) and then adds, but I tell you Elijah has already come (i.e. figuratively in John the Baptist).

1.  St Jerome – That He says, This is Elijah, is figurative – (Quoted in the Catena Aurea)

2. St. JeromeSt. John the Baptist is called Elijah, not in accordance with foolish philosophers and certain heretics who introduce the topic of metemphychosis (transmigration of souls), but because, according to other evidence of the gospel, he came in the spirit and goodness of Elijah  and had either the same grace or power of the Holy Spirit. The austerity of their life and firm resolve were equally strong in Elijah and John. Both lived in the  desert. The former girded himself with a belt of skins, and the latter had a similar belt. The former was forced to flee because he accused Ahab and Jezebel of impiety in their lives. John was beheaded because he accused Herod and Herodias of unlawful marriage. There are those who think therefore that John is called Elijah because, just as Elijah would lead the way in the second coming of our Lord (according to Malachi) and would announce that the judge was coming, so John acted at the first coming. And because each was a messenger, either of the first or second coming of the Lord.  (Commentary on Matthew 2.11.15)

3. St. Jerome  – He then who at the Savior’s second coming will come in the truth of His body, comes now in John in power and spirit (Quoted in the Catena Aurea).

4. Remigius for He did not say that John was Elias in person, but in the Spirit (Quoted in the Catena Aurea)

5. St John ChrysostomFor the Scriptures speak of two comings of Christ; that which has taken place, and that which is yet to be. But the Scribes, blinding the people, spoke to them only of His second coming, and said, If this be the Christ, then should Elias have come before Him. Christ thus resolves the difficulty, He answered and said, Elias truly shall come, and restore all things; but I say to you, that Elias has already come. Think not that here is a contradiction in His speech, if He first say that Elias shall come, and then that he is come. For when He says that Elias shall come and restore all things, He speaks of Elias himself in his own proper person, who indeed shall restore all things, in that he shall correct the unbelief of the Jews, who shall then be to be found; and that is the turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, that is, the hearts of the Jews to the Apostles. (Quoted in the Catena Aurea)

Well, as you can see, Scriptural interpretation is a careful matter that requires us to cover our desks with open books and references to other passages in the Scripture. As with many passages of Scripture there is a range of opinion and views. This article is a blog post. It is not a dissertation or an article in a theological journal. Hence, by nature it is incomplete. I invite comments to help complete the picture, and healthy (charitable) debate is encouraged.

The bottom line is that the strongest position is that John the Baptist is surely not the actual Elijah returned to earth. Rather he is an Elijah figure who takes up the ministry of Elijah in the Spirit and power. I also find the distinction of some of the Fathers helpful and compelling in seeing many of the details of Malachi 4 as referring to a return also of the actual Elijah just prior to the second coming. I do not claim this is a doctrine of the faith, only that the position is quite intriguing.

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  1. Nick says:

    One of the minor prophets said he wasn’t a prophet. I like to think John was imitating his humility.

  2. jj says:

    Msgr Pope, You have done it again. Talk about Bible class on-line, this blog is it! Is the Church and it’s members, today’s Elijah, today’s John the Baptist?

    • Yes, I have preached along these lines in that we are all called to be a kind of John the Baptist in an on-going sort of way as we summon all to repentance unto life-giving faith. We as Individuals and the Church collectively surely do have this role.

  3. Vincent says:

    This is an excellent explanation Msgr. Pope. I heartily concur. I particularly like the way you said that John was acting in/with the spirit of Elijah. It is very consistent with the way in which God conferred the spirit of Elijah and his ministry upon the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 2).

    I also had never thought about the significance of the dual answer Jesus gave to his disciples: John will come, yet John has come. I like your interpretation about this relating to the heralding of Jesus’ first and second comings.

    • Yes, thanks, actually it is not mine but that of the Fathers. Reginaldus is also posting an article by Cornelius a’ Lapide who makes this point well. See below in the comments. It was a new insight for me too.

  4. dianne says:

    I don’t like to see this kind of “text torturing” It is in effect saying that Jesus did not mean what he said. This same kind of logic could be used to say that Jesus didn’t mean it literally when he said “this is my body.” The fathers rejected the idea that John was Elijah because reincarnation was a heresy. But why couldn’t God have made a special exception in the case of John/Elijah? As to John’s denial, perhaps he didn’t realize he was Elijah or maybe he was just being modest. That seems better to me than to think that Jesus didn’t mean what he plainly said.

    • Yes, Dianne and just to add to Reginaldus’ point I would say that we cannot read all scripture in a mechanistically literal way. For example Jesus advises in places that we cut off our hand, foot or pluck out our eye if these aspects cause us to sin. But of course he is using hyperbole and we must distinguish it from the literalistic sense. Otherwise most of us would be missing eyes and other appendages. Surely what the Lord means us to understand is that it is more serious to sin than to lose our eye etc. Or further that we should cut our self off from sources of sins. So there must be an interpretive key rooted in the rule of faith and the life of the Church, as Reginaldus points out. You can read more of this in the Catechism and the VC II document Dei Verbum as well as Pope Benedict’s latest exhortation: Verbum Domini

    • Gregory Murphy says:

      Diane,

      It’s better to see this exercise as an example of Catholics reading and interpreting Scripture intelligently (that’s a hallmark of ours). A great example, although I do not have an online reference or link to hand, is Pope Benedict’s discourse on the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law where, he taught, that all the components of the Sacrament of Penance are evident. Yeah, right. Because at first reading, it seems a complete stretch, if not total distortion, to draw such a conclusion. I mean, just how does the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law equate to Confession?

      But Pope Benedict got there and it no longer seemed a stretch. There was no way in a million years that I would ever have reached that conclusion. For although I can discern many things myself from Scripture quite easily – and am thrilled when I discover I’m on the right lines without any earthly teacher revealing such to me – there does come a limit. That’s when we need the likes of Mgr Pope and Pope Benedict to take us to the heights of Scriptural contemplation. Frustrating that I can’t find a link!

      Truly, I appreciate where you’re coming from on this one but remember that we instinctively know goodness by its fruit. There’s no bad fruit to see, smell or sense in Mgr’s teaching, here (is there ever?). That’s always the best rule of thumb, in my book. Sure Mgr has piloted a flight here but there was very little turbulence along the way and the landing was as smooth as it gets.

      I think I’ve run out of lame metaphors!

      In Domino.

  5. David says:

    How does – or might – the Transfiguration fit into this discussion? Peter, James, and John saw Elijah, then. In some sense, they saw Elijah ‘there’ (traditionally, Mt. Tabor). Was this a coming of Elijah? Elijah still ‘in the flesh’ as he was taken up, mysteriously never yet having ‘died’ in any physical sense?

    (If it was not a ‘coming’, ‘where’ was the presumably still ‘three-dimensional’ Elijah, when they saw him, and he audibly (or so I presume) conversed with Our Lord? Moses is even more inviting of questions. Deuteronomy 34:5-7 seems (in every translation I have ever read) pretty clear about Moses dying and being buried ‘according to the flesh’, but, for example, Josephus – and many after him – take this to be deceptive and assume he was ‘taken up’ bodily like Enoch and Elijah. If not, if we may indeed take Deuteronomy literally, ‘what’ exactly do the disciples see, and Our Lord speak with, at the Transfiguration? How is Moses (made) visible and audible?)

    In any case, it is striking to bear in mind in every subsequent reference by or in the presence of Peter, James, and John, to Moses ansd Elijah in what is narrated in the Gospels or written in an Epistle (e.g., if the James who wrote the Epistle of James is indeed the same James) that they have seen them – conversing with Our Lord (and appearing capable of occupying ‘huts’).

    • David says:

      Thanks! I look forward tofollowing the link to your article! I do not recall that I have ever encountered the suggestion of a temporary reunion, with respect to Moses, though I have, as one of the possible explanations re. Matthew 27:52-53.

    • Dan Buckley says:

      I believe that there was an apochryphal book called the Assumption of Moses to which Jude seems to make reference (Jude, 1:8-9). Although the reference does not imply anything like canonicity, why would it not be possible for Moses body to have been taken to heaven (Limbo) after his death as was the body of Elijah before death>.

  6. Actually Reginaldus, I was hoping you would help supply those, perhaps by transferring them from your earlier post. I didn’t want to “steal” your stuff!

  7. Vijaya says:

    Although I am buying a couple of books by Peter Kreeft for Christmas this year, I look forward to the day I can buy YOUR book, Father. My little mind and heart are so hungry for understanding and in little bits and pieces I gain it. Until my dying day. Thank you for blogging, for giving up your time and energy to do this in the wee hours of the night.

    Soon it shall be Christmas! My children can’t hardly stand it … I have little Scripture sayings (my favorites) that I’ve written on small slips of paper and they get to read them every morning along with a chocolate kisses tucked inside an Advent house with little openings. The animals all nose them as well.

    • Ah thanks, I’m doing some remote work on that “book idea” and seeking some help to organize it if any one will publish some of these. What would be interesting is to publish not only the articles but at least some of the comments. For blog posts are not necessarily stand alone articles but “conversation starters” which require corrections, additions and clarifications that the comments often help to do. I’m exporing this idea anyway.

  8. Grandpa Tom says:

    John The Baptist is a true person, son of Zachary, and Elizebeth. Elijah is a seperate hypothysis, subsistence, or person. The meaning of Jesus statement that Elijah has come is complex. In the Book of Sirach 48:4, 9-11, Elijah is called the fiery prophet, it says: “How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wonderous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? Blessed is he is who shall have seen you.”

    Where Jesus says: “Elijah has already come, but they did not recognize him (Mt 19:9-13),” Jesus was speaking of John being Elijah in glory, as the last prophet who is bringing in the new age. John would be Elijah in essence, nature,and other qualities which imitated him, but was not Elijah reborn of a woman. John is called Elijah, just as Jesus is called the New Adam, and Mary is called the New Eve. Elijah’s appearance at the Lords Transfiguration (Mt 17:1) brings John’s appearance at the Jordan into a clear picture of the significance of Jesus refering to John as Elijah, because John ushered in the new age, and Elijah confirmed the meaning of Johns declaration the Jesus is ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

  9. Linus says:

    Clear as mud. But does it really matter!! The question I have is this: The language of scriptures seems to indicate that neither Enoch nor Elijah seem to have died. If they have not died, doesn’t that indicate their actual return to earth at some point, presumably at the very end of time?

    • Yes, and another question about them both is, when they were taken up to heaven, prior to Christ’s saving work, what “heaven” was it? Was it heaven as we have come to know it? How could they go there without Christ’s saving work, etc. Mysterious. Or as you say, clear as mud?

      • David says:

        A quick response would be, that something like this has at least exercised thought in Israel since before the Incarnation (consider the Book of Enoch: by the way, the Wikipedia article on it looks interesting and thoughtful…), and throughout the history of the Church.

        A nice possibly-related seasonal example of the latter being the Christmas Eve cantata by Silvio Stampiglia (words) and Alessandro Scarlatti (music), commissioned by Cardianl Ottoboni for Pope Clement’s after-Vespers refreshment for the College of Cardinals in 1705, which is set historically just at the Birth of Christ and in which Abraham, Daniel, Ezechiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah are imagined discussing together this Birth to which they have so long eagerly looked forward: I say, “possibly-related” as they, in contrast to Enoch and Elijah, have all clearly died with regard to their bodies. (There are a couple recordings of this available: I have enjoyed the one conducted by Michael Schneider on Harmonia Mundi.) Were Enoch and Elijah waiting somewhere different, because they were (and are!) still ‘bodily’, having never died?

    • al says:

      They actually are the ones that are spoken of in revelation. They will be killed when they returned to earth. I say that beacause in revelation it says the 2 prophets will return to earth and be killed. But how can anyone experience 2 deaths ? They won’t because Enoch and Elijah never died and biblically they have to die bcuz the wages of sin is death.

  10. GABRIEL says:

    Dear Monsignore.

    If a person was born twice, not in a different body, but in a body identical to the one he had before his death,
    litterally “born again”: as in same soul – same body, only new cells.

    by Church definition, would this phenomena be called re-incarnation,

    or

    Resurrection?

    • GABRIEL says:

      And furthermore, the second time this person was born, he would have no memory of his past life, and also he would have been given a different name by his new parents.

      So allthough he both inhabits the soul and the body of his former self, he would have none of the memories of the past life and in addition a new name, and on top that, only memories from his current life, thus considering himself to be for instance “John” because that is the name his current parenst have given him, and it contains his experience of his present lifetime.

      But at the same time, the last time he was alive, he had a different name (lets say “Elijah”), of witch he currently holds no knowledge or memories from.
      Would this hold the key to the sollution?

      So alltough this man once lived under the name of “Elijah”, he then died and was born generations later under a new name, now “John”, it would be wrong of him to state that he “is” Elijah, because now his name technically is “John”.

      If the story about Jesus being the new Adam, is true, if He was asked “are you adam?” He would probably answer “no” and still be correct because his name was then Jesus.

      And from what I recall, at the second coming it will be wrong to refer to Jesus as Jesus, because at that point he supposedly will have “taken a new name witch only He knows”

      Does this make sense to you Monsignore?

  11. val says:

    A gift for you…Truth. God is precise: It is a woman Rev 12 that delivers the true word John1:1, Rev 12:5, Rev 12:13 who restores Acts 3:21 all things to the world before Christ’s return. This woman exposes the lies of Satan who has deceived the whole world Rev 12:9. This woman creates a new thing in the earth by fulfilling God’s promise to Eve Gen 3:15, Jer 31:22, Isa 14:16. Moses and Elijah are together with the word Matt 17:3 they all three are in this one woman. She is like unto Moses Num 12:3. She was raised up Acts 3:22 from the Laodicean church that becomes lukewarm because they refused to hear her Rev 3:14-17. She is bold like Elijah Matt 17:11, Luke 1:17. As Elijah was alone declaring the true God to the people 1 Kings 18:22 so also her witness alone turns the hearts of the fathers to the children Mal 4:5-6 to prepare a people for the Lords return before the great and dreadful day of the Lord Matt 17:3, Luke 9:30. Those who will not hear Acts 3:23 the true word of God she now delivers to the world free of charge, as a witness, at the heel of time from the wilderness Rev 12:6 will not be allowed inside the walls of God’s coming kingdom from heaven Rev 21. This true testimony of the true value of the blood of the Lamb delivers the truth that not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing Jer 7:31, Jer 19:5. God created evil Isa 45:7 to teach his children the knowledge of good and evil Rom 8:7, Gen 3:22 so that at their resurrection they become a god Matt 22:29-30, Ps 82:6 and are placed Ezek 37:26 in God’s world. Prove all things. You cannot rightly judge this unless you read all that has been written by this woman first Pro 18:13. Start here http://minigoodtale.wordpress.com
    God has all power, Satan has none. God will not fail at saving anyone 1 Cor 13:8. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to God Rom 14:11. When they confess God is just to forgive them and cleanse them from all unrighteousness 1 John 1:9, each in their own order 1 Cor 15:23 according to their hearts of love. Many are called few are chosen to live forever in his coming New Jerusalem Rev 21 on the new earth in the new heaven, none will be lost John 17:12 except one, Satan’s son the son of perdition. All of God’s children will have a place Ezek 37:26 all will be given new hearts and new minds some justly will be placed in outer darkness Matt 8:12.

    • Barbara says:

      I guess you are saying you are the woman. If you were to name the one true message that the world just hasn’t “gotten” what would that be?

  12. I am John says:

    I am John, messenger of the LORD, born of a Gentile Elizabeth. First Jew then Gentile, both of the same olive tree. Let the wise hear what I say. An angel of the LORD delivered a message to me. You O’Church of America are filled with the spirit of the Laodecians. REPENT OR BE REBUKED AND DISCIPLINED! You O’America are filled with the spirit of Babylon. JUDGMENT COMES FOR YOU! “My patience has died, and the children are far away. Time to gather the grapes for the winepress; time is up. I will not tarry much longer!”, thus saith the LORD.
    Revelation 3:
    “14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
    15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
    16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
    17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked–
    18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.
    19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.
    20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
    21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
    22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

    Dear children turn back to God our Father! Behold, the Lord Jesus stands at the door and knocks!

  13. I am John says:

    First Jew and then Gentile, both part of the same olive tree with Jew being the root and Gentile being the grafted branch. A John of Jewish origin born to an Elizabeth of Jewish origin came in the spirit and power of Elijah for the first coming of the Lord Jesus, then a John of Gentile origin born to an Elizabeth of Gentile origin comes in the spirit and power of Elijah for the second coming of the Lord Jesus.

    I am John, messenger of the LORD, born of a Gentile Elizabeth. Thus saith the LORD, “My patience has died, and the children are far away. Time to gather the grapes for the winepress; time is up. I will not tarry much longer!” (YOU WHO TRULY KNOW HIS WORD CAN DECIPHER WHAT HIS WORDS MEAN! BEHOLD, THE LORD JESUS STANDS AT THE DOOR AND KNOCKS!)

    Look at the verses in a chronological expectation of events:

    1) Gabriel tells Zechariah that his wife Elizabeth will give birth to John (the Baptist) who will go before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (first and second?)

    Luke 1:11-17
    “11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

    2) Malachi states a messenger will precede the Lord’s coming. (first and second?)

    Malachi 3:1
    “Behold, I send My messenger,
    And he will prepare the way before Me.
    And the Lord, whom you seek,
    Will suddenly come to His temple,
    Even the Messenger of the covenant,
    In whom you delight.
    Behold, He is coming,”
    Says the Lord of hosts.

    3) Malachi states that Elijah (the prophet either naturally or in spirit) precedes the great and dreadful day of the Lord. (first and second?)

    Malachi 4:5-6
    “5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
    Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
    6 And he will turn
    The hearts of the fathers to the children,
    And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
    Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”

    4) A mighty angel tells John (the Revelator) that he must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings. It will be both bitter and sweet! (great and dreadful?)

    Revelation 10:1-11
    1 I saw still another mighty angel coming down from heaven, clothed with a cloud. And a rainbow was on his head, his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire. 2 He had a little book open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land, 3 and cried with a loud voice, as when a lion roars. When he cried out, seven thunders uttered their voices. 4 Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices,[a] I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me,[b] “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” 5 The angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land raised up his hand[c] to heaven 6 and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things that are in it, the earth and the things that are in it, and the sea and the things that are in it, that there should be delay no longer, 7 but in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets. 8 Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, “Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.” 9 So I went to the angel and said to him, “Give me the little book.” And he said to me, “Take and eat it; and it will make your stomach bitter, but it will be as sweet as honey in your mouth.” 10 Then I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. But when I had eaten it, my stomach became bitter. 11 And he[d] said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

  14. maloner says:

    Dianne,
    I agree with you.

  15. E.L.D.E.R. says:

    There have been many Elijah claims among Jews, Christians, and even Muslims. There are Youtube Elijahs of women and men with very interesting things to say. Personally, I think this Elijah guy has a lot of work to do to restore all things. There are a lot of mysteries in Scripture that are not clear, and one would think he would have to bring Jews to Christ, which the Church has failed to do. I feel sorry for the poor fella. The first time he was chased by the nations with a bounty on his head; the second time the chopped-off his head; and it seems like the third time he will have use his head very clevery to restore all things. I have not seen any of the recent Elijahs restore all things. Maybe he will be stressed-out and pass down his mantle of authority again; then someone else can rightly divide the water of the Word or be taken-up with the fiery Spirit and stir the spiritual winds of heaven…like Elisha. I have a feeling Elijah liked to dwell alone, and John the Baptist, too, when he was born again. The third Elijah may be a hermit, too! Probably a mocker, too! Guess we will have to wait and see…if the poor fella ever shows himself again. Lot to ponder about this Eliyahu HaNavi preparing the people for Mashiach.

  16. Ali Mahjoub says:

    I am astonished by most people’s comments here that were contrary to Jesus’s statement that John the Baptist is Elijah. To argue and say that John the Baptist can’t be the real Elijah because he was physically born of a women, and perhaps Jesus didn’t mean that John is the literal Elijah, this is really childish talk. I like what Dianne said ” I don’t like to see this kind of “text torturing” It is in effect saying that Jesus did not mean what he said. This same kind of logic could be used to say that Jesus didn’t mean it literally when he said “this is my body.” You will have to excuse me for saying this, John the Baptist is a dismal failure and the cause of Jesus’ death! He knew his mission in the role of Elijah, his father Prophesied, and I am sure he must have told him that he has the spirit and power of Elijah. John trained himself in an escetic, living in the wilderness eating same food Elijah did, and he completely imitated Elijah’s life style, he even dressed himself like Elijah. How could he denied he was Elijah? By denying he was Elijah, John made Jesus looked like a liar in the eyes of the pharesses who were challenging Jesus. Again, John, as the Bible indicated, was sent to prepare a people for the Lord and John did prepare a large followers, my question is, if John was sent to prepare a people for the Lord, why than John didn’t bring the people he prepared and merge with Jesus? Had John this this, He would have been Jesus’ chief disciple and Jesus would’t have died a cruel death! Jesus’ death on the cross was God’s most tragic and painful secondary dispensation, necessitated due to the faithlessness of the chosen people, particularly John the Baptist. I learned all these powerful truth from Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s teaching, The Divine Principle.

  17. Pierre says:

    I agree that John was in the role of Elijah but there is much more to this story. We can see that John did not understand who he really was but most of all, he did not understand who Jesus really was despite receiving a powerful vision.
    He finally sent his disciples to ask Jesus:” Are you the one to come or shall we wait for another.” And this was the man that God prepared the most to believe in Jesus !
    He believed in God sincerely and ended up loosing his life doing what he thought was right but did not realized that is not what God prepared him for and expected of him.
    He is a video that summarizes what a tragedy it was. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e47Rh4WBVG0 .We should be all afraid of making the same mistake.

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  19. Josh says:

    If we are to accept the idea that John simply ‘filled the role’ of Elijah and that is enough to fulfill prophecy; could that hold true of the second coming of the Christ as well?

  20. oscar dehoyos says:

    the answer lies in Jesus himselfthe Old and New Testaments are filled with dual natures in typological forms.i.e Eve and Mary ,Anrahams sacrifice and Calvary,the hypostatic union and therefore Elijah the first time according to Christ Divinity as John the Baptist Spiritually and the second as Elijah in the flesh at the second coming as Jesus in the flesh fullfilled His human nature.Reminding us as we hear the words echoed at every Holy Mass,” Trough Him,with Him and in Him..” or as scripture says all things were created in Him and for Him.