Today's gospel - Where were Moses and Elija


Today’s gospel says that Moses and Elija appeared to Jesus. I understand that Jesus opened the gates of heaven with His death. So where were Moses and Elija before Jesus died?


Catechism of the Catholic Church

633 Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, “hell” - Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in Greek - because those who are there are deprived of the vision of God. 480 Such is the case for all the dead, whether evil or righteous, while they await the Redeemer: which does not mean that their lot is identical, as Jesus shows through the parable of the poor man Lazarus who was received into “Abraham’s bosom”: 481 “It is precisely these holy souls, who awaited their Savior in Abraham’s bosom, whom Christ the Lord delivered when he descended into hell.” 482 Jesus did not descend into hell to deliver the damned, nor to destroy the hell of damnation, but to free the just who had gone before him. 483

480 Cf. Phil 2:10; Acts 2:24; Rev 1:18; Eph 4:9; Pss 6:6; 88:11-13.
481 Cf. Ps 89:49; 1 Sam 28:19; Ezek 32:17-32; Lk 16:22-26.
482 Roman Catechism I, 6, 3.
483 Cf. Council of Rome (745): DS 587; Benedict XII, Cum dudum (1341): DS 1011; Clement VI, Super quibusdam (1351): DS 1077; Council of Toledo IV (625): DS 485; Mt 27:52-53.


It stands to reason in my mind that they were in heaven. (Not arguing Vico’s quote from the Catechism above, just saying I think these two individuals were exceptions.)

In Deuteronomy, we read that God himself buried Moses; then we get a fairly descriptive explanation that Moses was one of a kind in human history.

In 2 Kings, it is explicitly stated that Elijah was taken up to heaven by the fiery chariot.


You are completely missing the point by asking such a question.

Do you think that was the intention of the Gospel author?


Here is my opinion:

I never thought much about the transfiguration of the Lord before. When I was a kid I just thought it was some sort of magic trick that Christ performed. I do not remember any lessons the Sisters of St. Joseph gave on the subject and I do not remember the sermons preached at the 9:15 AM Children’s Mass that we attended as a group with our classmates. I just it thought it as something that Jesus did to show off for them. Now that was when I was a kid and I have to confess that my beliefs have changed since then! Oddly enough I do not consider this event a miracle. The miracle is when Jesus returned to His human state, concealing His true self.

The important part of this story for us is the fact that Moses and Elijah were standing with them conversing and God the Father says that “This is my Son. Listen to Him.”

The lesson here is that the Jews who rejected Jesus should now accept Him as the Messiah. This message is meant for us too. We have to approach the times that we did not respond to the urging of the Holy Spirit. We are simply reminded who Jesus is and why we should follow Him.


Questions of time are inevitably sticky to our minds and can seldom, if ever, be adquately solved.

The importance of the Transfiguration is, IMNAAHO, that by it our LORD proved that He was not just a man, He was a heavenly being; and this gave Him His authority.

The location of His celestial companions prior to His appearance was not an issue.



I think a point from the OP is missed here. Questioning where Moses and Elijah were before Jesus’ resurrection does not imply that the “general” lesson is undermined or not grasped. Instead it is a direct concern to RECONCILE this narration and the teaching about the departed just souls before His resurrection.

It may sound convincing that these two (Moses and Elijah) were special as the Scriptures witnesses this (as quoted and argued in above posts) that they were in heaven. However this distorts comfort with Colossians 1:18:

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

Still lost, I am!


In the 2nd Book of Kings, Elijah is transported to Heaven by a flaming chariot. The Letter of Jude references the apocryphal “Assumption of Moses”, in which the devil and the archangel Michael argue over Moses’ body. Tradition was that Elijah and Moses (as well as Enoch) were granted special exception from the rule of going to the abode of the dead to wait for Jesus. Regardless, the first point of the Transfiguration is that Moses = the law and Elijah = the prophets, both of which pointed toward the Messiah.

The second, and more important point, is that the Father’s voice announced as Elijah and Moses disappeared with Jesus still remaining, “This (Jesus) is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” We are to follow Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law, the fulfillment of all prophecy, and, most of all, as God the Son, the one Lord and Savior of all humanity, King of all that exists, visible and invisible, and the perfect High Priest and Perfect Sacrifice, Who sacrificed Himself so that the entirety of humankind could be reconciled with His Heavenly Father.


Just to add that I think the significance of Moses and Elias being there are the two links to show us that Moses held and still holds the basic laws of the faith and Elias shows us the the truth and verity of the of the words prophets. The question of from where they had been called? Logically they would both be in Abrahams Bosom. Elias going straight to heaven when the gates had yet to be opened is beyond my logic, but then there are many mysteries in the Catholic faith and not knowing the mind of God is one of them, especially in matters such as this. To be honest I don’t think I would think too much about where they
were, but more about how we can join them now that they are in Heaven.


Powerofk you beat me to it. I’m such a slow one finger typist.


According to Haydock’s commentary on 2 Kings 2:1 (4 Kings 2:1 in the Douay-Rheims Version), it is “generally supposed” that Elijah was taken up into the sky (the first heaven) by the whirlwind and transported to Paradise, the Garden of Eden. I assume that that is where he was before Jesus’ Transfiguration and that that is where he returned after Jesus’ Transfiguration. I assume he will be one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11, who will be killed by the Antichrist but after three and a half days will be raised from the dead and be assumed into heaven.

I assume Moses’ soul was in Abraham’s bosom (Limbus patrum, Limbo of the fathers) before Jesus’ Transfiguration, was miraculously made visible to the Apostles for the Transfiguration, and returned to Abraham’s bosom after Jesus’ Transfiguration. Like all the other souls in Abraham’s bosom, after Jesus’ death opened the gates of heaven, Moses’ soul went there, to heaven.


Since souls are immaterial, it would have to be an apparition or a glorified body.


Or an apparition **of **the glorified body!



And how do we connect that “body” with Jesus’ affirmation of the true person of John the Baptist (cf. Mark 9:11–13, Matthew 11:13–14, Luke 7:27), provided that we know he is a biological son of Zachariah and Elizabeth?


What is the issue?

JB and Elijah were not the same person.



The angel Gabriel said, “He will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). This is a metaphor. In John 1:19–23, John the Baptist states that he is the messenger, denying that he is Elijah.


Is there someone waiting for Elijah today? or was it a joke that he was to come?

Malachi 4:5-6
*“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of
the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,
and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
It is clear that the understanding of the Jews was not an identical physique to the persons past existed, as even Herod mistook Jesus for the reincarnate JB. The point here is this that Jesus affirms the personality of JB to be that of Elijah.

“JB and Elijah (being not) were not the same person” and “John’s 1:19-23” can only lead us into another debate (I guess). Call it physique or spirit and power of Elijah, but never forget the main point here that he is as it was promised (Malachi 4:5-6) and simply that THIS WAS THE FULLNESS OF TIME.


Jesus did not say the John the Baptist was the same person as Elijah. Many rejected Jesus as Messiah, so rejected the idea that John the Baptist performed the function of “coming in the spirit and power of” Elijah. Coming “in the spirit and power of” is not the same as being.


Also, what is the point of relying on those “Many (who) rejected Jesus as Messiah” into rejecting “the idea that John the Baptist performed the function of “coming in the spirit and power of” Elijah”?

What did Jesus mean then?


What is relied upon is what Jesus said. The significance of the public opinions is that Jesus added: if you will receive it.

A human person is a rational soul and body and they are uniquely suited to each other, and the body that dies is later glorified to reconstitute the person.

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