Confusing and difficult gospel teachings

Why is it that often God is not clear and direct and in what he is teaching in Scripture. Based on old testament passages the Jews thought the Christ was going to establish his kingdom in the physical world. The parables, other scripture such as Mark 9:12 where Jesus teaches the following: “Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things, yet how is it written regarding the Son of Man that he must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt?”
When I go the Biblical commentary on the above passage it states " At the transfiguration of Jesus his disciples had seen Elijah. They were perplexed because, according to the rabbinical interpretation of Mal 3, 23-24, Elijah was to come first. Jesus response shows that Elijah has come, in the person of John the Baptist, to prepare for the day of the Lord. Jesus must suffer greatly and be treated with contempt like the Baptist."

So, was John the Baptist not John the Baptist and was really Elijah, or maybe both?

How would any Jew back then ever come up with the same Biblical interpretation referenced above? Mind you, I am not ridiculing but truly trying to understand the Bible as an ordinary Christian or for that matter how an ordinary Jew would back in the time of Christ.
So, please help me understand better how all this Scripture works!


What prevented them from understanding is similar to what prevents you now.
That is the true issue, isn’t it? Why is God hidden from you?
I could give you an answer about scripture that may or may not satisfy you,
but what of this mystery that we hardly know ourselves, let alone our Maker.

This is a journey;
one which is transformational.
It involves all of us.
We come to know as we become more loving,
as we grow in Christ.

You cannot know unless firstly that grace is granted through the Holy Spirit.
So, you have to pray.
God is love, so if you are not loving, you will never know Him.
I would recommend you participate in the mass and the sacraments in addition to contemplating holy writings, being diligent in your prayers and good works.

You will find that the questions that come to mind will be more valid, less complicated, more to the point. Then you will see that as the question forms, it will answer itself.

John the Baptists is not Elijah. John even says so himself.

***And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” And he answered, “No.” *(John 1:21)

What you are really asking about are the Senses of Scripture.

Jews in the time of Jesus would understand better because they understood Judaism better than we do. They also understood Semitic phraseology as well as references to contemporary culture, politics and society. These are called the Literal Sense of Scripture. Whenever we interpret Scripture we have to try first to understand the literal sense - what the words on the page are actually talking about - before we attempt to understand the spiritual sense.

An example is Jesus’ statements about courts, judges and paying the last penny in the Sermon on the Mount…

Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny. (Matthew 5:25-26)

This is a direct reference to the way debtor’s prisons operated. The ancients understood this but we have no reference because debtor’s prisons are a thing of the past. Debtor’s prison is the literal sense of this passage. All the spiritual senses flow from that.

We also have to remember that Jesus is a Rabbi. Jesus is a teacher. Rabbis used various teaching techniques such as remez which means hint. A brief but excellent explanation of remez is at

Elijah was a great prophet. In saying “Elijah is to come” Jesus is saying that a great prophet is to come. The phrase restore all things would have been recognizable to anyone who studied the Old Testament prophets such as Elijah and Elisha…

*And the king said to the man of God, "Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me." And the man of God entreated the LORD; and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as it was before. (1 Kings 13:6)

And Eli’sha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean." So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:10,14)*

Also remember that the nation of Israel had split into two nations with the ten northern tribes disappearing after the exile. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were left at the time of Jesus. The other ten tribes were called “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” because they were just absorbed into the surrounding nations. The idea of restoration of the twelve tribes of the kingdom of Israel was a central theme for the prophets…

he says:
"It is too light a thing that you should be my servant
to raise up the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the preserved of Israel;
I will give you as a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth."

(Isaiah 49:6)

Restore all things is a reference to the mighty works of the prophets who restored individuals and the prophecy that the ten lost tribes would be restored and Israel would be returned to its former glory.

Jews at the time of Jesus would have understood these things because they studied the OT Scriptures and because Jesus was one of them and used references they understood. It helps to understand rabbinical teaching techniques and to understand better Jewish culture, politics, ways of daily life, and even geography so that we better understand the literal sense of scripture.


This is an excellent article on the senses of scripture.


If I were you I would not be so judgmental about the condition of somone else’s soul. Not that it is any your business but I do attend Mass frequently, pray a lot and seek to love God and neighbor as a good Christian.

Thank you so very much for your help.It helps in my understanding of Scripture. Thank you.

Enjoy reading the questions and answers…

Elijah will come before Christ comes again.

Elijah and Enoch didn’t die and will return as the two witnesses that antichrist will kill.

A Jew back then WOULDN’T come up with any interpretation like that.

The re-interpretation of old testament scripture begins with Jesus talking with the disciples on the road to emmaus, after his resurrection. we all would surely like to have a transcript of what Jesus said, wouldn’t we.

This general subject is discussed here:

I had this document printed, and it came out to over 100 pages. It’s not a quick or easy read, necessarily. the gospel of Luke here is telling us that there is a hidden meaning of scripture.

Things happen in God’s time. He is in control of time and the things that happen.

rational argument: consider if the references to Jesus were much more explicit in the Old Testament, the Hebrews would have had even more difficulty adhering to the commands of God. You can see that the way prophecies were written requires faith in God, which is the first demand of the Sinai covenant.

more rational argument: After the return from the second exile, in Babylon, it seems that there’s a long lull in prophecy and God’s interaction with the Jews seems to come to a standstill, or a minimum. – that is, until Christ comes on the scene. The Jews and the temple seem to survive that long to be a testimony to the Christ, the Messiah. Well, we have hindsight on this, but things turned out beyond even the typical Jewish expectation .

“The LORD whom you seek shall suddenly come to His Temple” was fulfilled almost beyond recognition.

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