Wasn’t John the Baptist the Elijah Who Was to Come?


Your Prophecy section says something to the effect that “God has been silent, but soon the prophet Elijah will come…”

I understand what you mean about God being silent, although I wouldn’t put it in those words because I believe God is continually making Himself known to us, but my main concern is about Elijah. Didn’t Jesus say that for those who can accept it, John the Baptist was the Elijah who was to come: a voice crying out in the wilderness making the path straight for the Lord? So what is this about Elijah coming again to prepare the way for the Lord?


Jesus did, in Matt. 11:14 and 17:12, clearly refer to John the Baptist as Elijah (Elias). Yet in Matt 17:11, following John the Baptist’s execution, Jesus speaks of an Elijah who “shall first come, and restore all things.”

So, according to Jesus Elijah has come and is still to come. This apparent chronological contradiction leaves us with two alternatives. One, Jesus was mistaken or two, the name Elias is used to refer to two different persons, heralds of two different “comings.” We hold the latter as true. Why?

The most obvious reason being that when John the Baptist was asked “Are you Elijah?” he answered, quite clearly, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” he was asked, and he replied “No” (John 1:19-21).

More subtle but just as significant are the differences and similarities between John’s mission (Luke 1:17) and Elijah’s mission (Mal. 4:5-6):

John’s Mission: “And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord”

Elijah’s Mission: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse”

John’s mission makes no mention of him preceding a “great and dreadful day of the Lord” and accordingly, there was nothing great and dreadful about the birth of a son into the family of a carpenter. Neither does John’s mission speak of the earth being struck with a curse. For, although Mal. 4:1-2 prophesies that “all the proud” and “all that do wickedly” will be destroyed soon following the coming of Elijah, both the proud and the wicked survived Jesus’ first advent.

Jesus spoke of two men. First, in Matthew 17:11, He spoke of Elijah the prophet who shall be the forerunner of Christ’s second coming, who never died but was taken up by whirlwind; and then, in Matthew 17:12, He spoke of John the Baptist (called Elias, as the disciples “understood”—Matt. 17:13), who had already served as forerunner of Christ’s first advent and died. Jesus refers to John as Elijah because of the similarities to Elijah in his mission of heralding a coming of Christ along with his spirit, courage and devotion.

Additionally, it could be argued that God has never been silent if one strictly applies the term as meaning inactivity. We do not suggest God is inactive. However, no one living has heard His audible voice or seen an undisputable instance of Divine intervention. He is performing miracles, guiding and directing His plan, but all is behind the scenes, so to speak; although He has appeared or been thought inactive by those who have disregarded Him.

In contrast to God’s present “silence,” during Biblical times there were periods where God spoke through His prophets, delivering warnings, messages and sometimes open judgments. Jesus and His apostles are another clear example of God working openly. At times He sent power to the disciples which gave them the ability to perform superhuman wonders to show they were Divinely certified. However, after the fall of Jerusalem and the completion of the Bible, God no longer worked in this way. That is why it is called a time of silence for God is not making Himself known in any open way.

We find ourselves living very near the end of this time, near the time when He will openly manifest His power again, when Jesus will return and take over the administration of planet Earth, and “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” It is said of this time that “The Lord also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake” (Joel 3:16). This is the time when His silence will be broken and that will be heralded by the coming of Elijah. We eagerly await the end of His silence.