What happened to the prophet Elijah

Was John the Baptist really the reincarnated Elijah?

Matthew 11: 7-14 explains: “As they were going away, Jesus began to speak to the people about John: What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed that is moved by the wind? Or what did you go out to see? A person in soft clothes? Behold, those who wear soft clothes are in the houses of kings. Or what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, he is more than a prophet. This is it, of whom it is written: "Behold, I send my messenger before you, who is to prepare your way before you." Truly I say to you: among all those who were born of a woman, none has appeared, who is greater is as John the Baptist; but he who is the smallest in the kingdom of heaven is greater than him. But from the days of John the Baptist to this day, the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and violence usurps it. For all the prophets and the law prophesied up to John; and if you want to accept it: He is Elijah, who is to come. ”Here Jesus quotes from Malachi 3: 1, where the messenger seems to be a prophetic figure who will appear. According to Malachi 3:23, this messenger is "the prophet Elijah," whom Jesus identified as John the Baptist. Does this mean that John the Baptist was the reincarnated Elijah? No, certainly not.

First, Jesus 'original listeners (and Matthew's original readers) would never have assumed that Jesus' words referred to reincarnation. Besides, Elijah did not die; he was carried to heaven in a hurricane while riding a fiery chariot (2 Kings 2:11). The argument for a reincarnation (or resurrection) of Elijah lacks this point. If anything, then the prophecy of "coming" Elijah would have been viewed as Elijah's physical return from heaven to earth.

Second, the Bible says very clearly that John the Baptist was given a destiny by Elijah because he came "in the power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17), not because he was Elijah in the literal sense. John the Baptist is the New Testament harbinger pointing the direction of the coming of the Lord, just as Elijah fulfilled that role in the Old Testament (and may repeat that role in the future - see Revelation 11).

Third, Elijah himself appears with Moses at the transfiguration of Jesus after the death of John the Baptist. That would not have happened if Elijah had changed his identity to John's (Matthew 17: 11-12).

Fourth, Mark 6: 14-16 and 8:28 show that the people, including Herod, made a distinction between John the Baptist and Elijah.

And finally, the proof that this is not a reincarnation comes from John the Baptist himself. In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, John the Baptist identifies himself as the messenger of Isaiah 40: 3, not as the Elijah from Malachi 3.1. John the Baptist himself even rejects the fact that he is Elijah (John 1: 19-23).

John did for Jesus what Elijah should have done for the Lord's coming, but he was not the born again Elijah. Jesus identified John the Baptist in his role as Elijah, while John the Baptist rejected this identification. How do we bring these two teachings down to a common denominator? There is a key message in Jesus' identification of John the Baptist that must not be overlooked. He says: "and if you want to accept it: he is Elijah". In other words, the identification of John the Baptist as Elijah was not based on the fact that he was actually Elijah wasbut on the reaction the people on his role. For those willing to believe in Jesus, John the Baptist acted as Elijah because they believed in Jesus as Lord. John the Baptist did not perform this role for the religious leaders who rejected Jesus.


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Was John the Baptist really the reincarnated Elijah?
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