Q. I have read and reread your fine article on “John the Baptist: Elijah or Not,” In it you said John the Baptist was actually Elijah. I simply cannot understand this. If there is some way you can help me to understand, I would appreciate it so much. Now, if you are saying that John was a type of Elijah, that I could understand, but you seem to be saying that John was the actual Elijah. I have read almost all of your site content and this is the first time I have been stumped.
A. Many people are stumped by this. We don’t understand how an ancient figure can reappear, especially when Hebrews 9:27 says we only live once. But in Malachi 4:5-6 God promised to send Elijah in the future even though Elijah had been taken into heaven 400 years earlier. The angel Gabriel told John’s father Zechariah that John would minister in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17). John said he wasn’t Elijah, (John 1:21) but Jesus said that if the people had accepted him, he would have been the Elijah who was to come. (Matt. 11:14)
Later, after John had been put to death, Jesus plainly said that John was Elijah (Matt. 17:11-13) which meant that the “or else” portion of Malachi’s prophecy would be fulfilled. After Jesus was put to death, God struck the land with a curse in the form of the Roman invasion.
Several Biblical figures will appear more than once. Of course the Lord is one, but Moses, Elijah and David will all show up again for end times assignments.