Q. If Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah, does that mean Elijah’s spirit was in John or was Elijah reborn as John? What? I’m confused!
Anyway, if that was possible, do you think that Elijah’s spirit may be instilled in another person in our day and age. How will we know? What signs should we look for. How would we recognize this person as God’s emissary and not the evil one? Do you believe it is possible for Elijah to be among us now in the personage of another man of God?
A. This is a confusing thing because we don’t understand the physiology involved. Bodies die while spirits live for ever so it’s theoretically possible for a spirit to inhabit more than one body.
The general rule in that when a body dies the spirit goes to either “heaven” or “hell” to await the Resurrection. (Hebrews 9:27) But there are exceptions. Several times the Lord has had a departed spirit re-inhabit its body (Jairus’s daughter. Lazarus, and several others.) And of course in the resurrection, the spirits of dead believers get new bodies. The Bible also speaks about some specific people coming back to finish uncompleted roles. David will help rule over Israel in the Millennium (Ezek 34:23-24) Moses and Elijah are the two witnesses of Revelation 11.
But John the Baptist is a different story. No one knows for sure if Elijah actually came. The Angel said said John would minister in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17) John himself said he wasn’t Elijah (John 1:21), Jesus said that if the people would accept him as such, then he would be. (Matt. 11:14)
Although he’s not mentioned by name, most believe that Elijah will soon appear again as one of the two witnesses, as I said above. He may be alive now, depending on how close to the end we are, but as for being in the personage of another man of God, I don’t think so. The way they’ll know him is that he’ll fulfill the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6.