The Coming of Elijah


In Malachi 4:5-6, Jehovah said that He would send Elijah before the coming of the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. When Elijah came, he was to “restore all things,” more specifically, he was to “turn the hearts of the fathers to the children.” His task was that of moral restoration. Elijah was to warn Israel that unless they turned back to the Lord He would “smite the earth with a curse,” in the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord. Elijah was thus to be the precursor and sign of the coming of the Lord. Has Elijah already come, or is the world still waiting for him?

When John the Immerser came he was asked if he was Elijah, and he said “No.” However, in Matthew 11:10-14, Jesus said of John “If you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Why did John say he was not Elijah, and yet Jesus said that he was? Is this a contradiction as some claim? No.

The Jews expected Elijah to physically be resurrected and appear, or some believed that since he had never died, he would just be manifested. The point is, they believed that the actual prophet Elijah would come. When John was asked if he was Elijah he could truthfully say “No,” since he was responding to their concept of the coming of Elijah.

However, Jesus knew that John truly was Elijah, in the sense intended by Malachi. According to Luke, John came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17).

Jesus was unequivocal, John was Elijah, as foretold by the prophets. Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, and then disappeared. On the way down from the mount, Jesus emphatically told the disciples not to tell anyone of what they had seen. They were perplexed and asked “Why then do the prophets say that Elijah must come first?” (Matthew 17:10). They knew that Elijah was to come before the Day of the Lord, and they had just seen Elijah–the “real one”! But they were now being forbidden to tell of this stupendous event! Why?

Jesus responded, “Elijah truly is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him.” The disciples “understood that he spoke to them of John the baptist.”

It is lamentable that modern Bible students refuse to believe Jesus. Dwight Pentecost, John Walvoord, Hal Lindsey, and most premillennial writers affirm that Elijah has not yet come! The reason they deny this–although they admit that John was a type of Elijah–is because, in their view, the Great Day of the Lord did not occur in the first century, therefore John could not be Elijah! This is a denial of Jesus’ words!

Hear the words of Jesus, “Elijah has come already!” He did not say that John was a type of the true Elijah. He did not say the real Elijah would come later. He said “Elijah has come already!” More on this important subject later, when we will show that John proclaimed that the end–the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord–was at hand.


Don K. Preston