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Bible verses about John the Baptist as Elijah
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Matthew 17:10

Jesus says that John the Baptist was Elijah (see verses 12-13).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 1)


 

Matthew 17:10

The question, asked by the disciples, is about what the scribes were saying: that the actual prophet Elijah—not the Elijah—must first come. What the scribes believed was in question, not the truth regarding Malachi 4:5-6.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 3)


 

Matthew 17:11

Jesus responds to the disciples' question essentially by saying He agrees that the scribes are correct in saying, "Elijah must come before the Messiah appears and before that great and dreadful day."

The word "truly" is important to understanding His agreement with the scribes. He is saying they have correctly understood Malachi 4:5-6 to this pointthat "Elijah must come first." He does not say He agrees with them totally, nor is He indicating that another Elijah will come in the future. Jesus says verse 13 in the future tense, because it is the tense in which Malachi 4:5-6 is written, which is a promise to be fulfilled at some later point in time.

He adds a quotation from the prophecy given about John in Luke 1:17. He wants to turn our attention away from Elijah to John.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 3)


 

Matthew 17:12

Here in verse 12, Jesus' disagreement with the scribes becomes clear. He agrees with them to a point, that "Elijah must come first." He signals His disagreement by using the word "but," an adversative conjunction, which joins two thoughts together while indicating a difference or exception. In this case, but means "on the other hand," "to the contrary," "except that," or "however."

Jesus' disagreement is with the scribes' interpretation. He is in no way saying that there will be a future Elijah beyond John the Baptist. He simply reiterates what Malachi 4:5 says, adds "and restore all things" to it, and then clearly states that this prophecy has already been fulfilled by John. He had already come, and they had missed him. They had rejected the message of the Elijah to come and did to him whatever they wanted. Here they had "the Elijah" right in front of them—the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy—and they killed him!

To take what Jesus said further, because He paraphrased the future tense of Malachi 4:5-6, is to twist and add to what He said. All He says is, "This is what the prophecy says, and this is My disagreement with the scribes' interpretation."

John the Baptist clearly came before "that great and dreadful day." The last biblical day—indeed the "last hour"—was already begun in the AD 90s, as I John 2:18 states. God does not perceive time as we do; we are the ones that must adjust our thinking.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 3)


 

Mark 11:32

Mark 11:32 provides insight as to how the people perceived John. Clearly, the common people considered him a prophet, and indeed, he was. This also shows that the highest Jewish authorities were fully aware of his reputation as a prophet and feared it. We can begin to see that in many respects the magnitude of John's work was similar to Jesus'.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Elijah and John the Baptist


 

Luke 1:17

Why does the angel refer to Malachi 4:6? He is expanding on John the Baptist's responsibility. Jesus summed it up in Matthew 17:11 by saying John would "restore all things." What does "all" refer to? It covers everything necessary to prepare a people for the arrival of the Messiah the first time.

This phrase "restore all things" appears no where else in any connection to the work of either Elijah or John the Baptist. In this phrase, however, Jesus gives us a clear understanding of the mission of John the Baptist. He has turned from considering Elijah to John the Baptist to make a connection between the two.

John restored all things necessary to the fulfilling of his mission, and his mission only, which was to prepare the way before the Messiah. His mission parallels Elijah's, which was to reveal the true God to people who had lost their way. Elijah was a light in his day, and John too was a light in his time, but he was not the Light. John clearly pointed to Jesus as the Messiah so that the people could repent, even as Elijah differentiated the true God from the Baals so the people at that time could repent.

Since Jesus' day, many have done similar restorative preaching, but not one of them was the Elijah of Malachi 4:5-6. If somebody in the future does a similar work, he will not be the Elijah either. Nobody ever will, because John the Baptist already filled that role. We have this on the authority of Jesus Christ, who clearly said that John the Baptist was Elijah, and they killed him (Matthew 17:12).

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 3)


 

John 1:19-21

When John the Baptist replied, he knew in advance what they were thinking because he knew what the Jews believed in regard to Elijah. This is why he answered, "I am not Elijah." In other words, since he was preaching and doing certain things, they expected that he was Elijah. The definite article is left out: "No. I am not Elijah."

The reason he answers this way is because he probably did not know at this time that he was the Elijah of Malachi 4:5, so he answered honestly the only way he could: "No, I am not the resurrected Elijah."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prophets and Prophecy (Part 3)


 

Revelation 10:11

Within the context of this chapter, it does not seem like John ever prophesies. However, within the time limits of the context, he did prophesy. Prophesy here does not mean "to foretell" but "to speak under inspiration"—of God—to preach!

Notice Revelation 11:1: "Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, 'Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.'"

Chapters 10 and 11 are one prophecy. The Seven Thunders have something to do with John, who is receiving the revelation. They also have something to do with the Two Witnesses. The Seven Thunders will sound, and they will all finish their sounding before the Two Witnesses and before the seventh seal's seventh trumpet.

When will John preach again? We know that the Two Witnesses will preach after the time of this verse. We can be certain that John himself will not preach. He was almost a hundred years old by the time Christ gave him the book of Revelation, and he was about ready to die. The ones who will "prophesy again" are the Two Witnesses and at a much later time. They will be antitypes of John. They will preach again what has previously been preached.

Who did the prophesying? The Seven Thunders did! They said the things John was not allowed write. What nickname did Jesus give to John and his brother James? "The Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17)! What did James and John preach? The gospel of the Kingdom of God! Jesus tells John to "prophesy again," but he will not literally do so any more than John the Baptist was literally Elijah! John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah, an antitype of Elijah. The Two Witnesses will be antitypes of John and James—"the Sons of Thunder!"

John W. Ritenbaugh
Revelation 10 and the Laodicean Church


 

 




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