Is John Eilijah or not?


The other day, I read that Jesus says that John was Elijah, then in today’s reading, John says he’s not.
Jn 1:6-8, 19-28

What’s the story?


This is how Tim Gray describes John and Elijah:
Luke gives his reader an important clue that John is the prophetic return of the prophet Elijah. In Luke, chapter 1, when the angel Gabriel announced to John’s father, Zechariah, that he would have a son who would do great things for God, he said that John would have “the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lk. 1:17). Why is this significant? The answer lies in Malachi, the last prophet sent to Israel, who, in Chapter 4 verse 5, claims that Elijah would return before the Messiah comes. If one saw John as a new Elijah, then clearly the time for the Messiah was at hand. In Matthew 11:14, Jesus himself shows the link between John the Baptist and Elijah, “If you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, who is to come”. And where was the last place that Elijah was seen? Just before he’s taken up into the heavens in a chariot of fire, Elijah passes on a double portion of his share of the Spirit of God to his successor, Elisha, at the river Jordan, who goes on to do greater things. Elijah, had passed the Jordan from west to east before being lifted up to heaven. Now John, who works on the east side of the Jordan, is making the Jews cross over to the east side to be baptized. Then they travel west, spiritually renewed, back into the Promised Land, just like their ancestors of old. If John the Baptist is playing the role of Elijah, then all of Israel is anxious to see the one who is coming with a greater share of the power of the Holy Spirit. And there is no better place to pass the baton to John’s successor than at the Jordan, just as Elijah did to Elisha.

It’s worth noting that Elijah was a prophet who upset the ruling king of Israel, Ahab, and his wicked queen, Jezebel. John also spoke out against King Herod and incurred the wrath of his queen, Herodius - the new Jezebel The story of Israel’s past was being replayed in a familiar key. Do any of other gospels link Elijah with John the Baptist? What else do we know of John the Baptist? Let’s compare his attire with this description from 2nd Kings. When the king asks his messengers to describe the man who said the king was going to die, we read in 2nd Kings, 1:8, "Wearing a hairy garment," they replied, “with a leather girdle about his loins.” “It is Elijah the Tishbite!” he exclaimed.

So John plays the part of Elijah, even down to his clothing. But why does he not say he is Elijah. I’m not sure.



Possibly because he didn’t know he was Elijah.


Because he wasn’t literally Elijah reincarnated or anything like that. He had the role of Elijah in announcing the first coming of Christ, but they are still two different people.


Why was it that John was confused with Elijah? Another point to bring up, Elijah was carried off into the heavens in a fiery chariot, shortly after his talk with Elisha at the Jordan, so he didn’t die. This is one of the reasons for the question, “are you Elijah?”

John obviously would have known his role in God’s plan of Salvation. He would have seen his role as Elijah.



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