Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I just read this passage and had never heard of this prophecy regarding Elijah.

Malachi 4:5-6 ESV

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

  • Taking account of this passage in Malachi, will Elijah make a re-appearance on earth at some point in the future, specifically, as it appears from the passage, at the time of or around the time of the final judgement?
  • Was this a fulfilled prediction of the transfiguration prior to Jesus's execution?
  • Was this prophecy fulfilled at some other point in the past?
  • Is Malachi literally talking about Elijah coming back to earth or was he speaking metaphorically?
  • How is this prophecy regarded or interpreted in dispensationalism (if at all). How so in Catholicism, or any of the other major Christian groups?
  • Also, Does this passage inform the beliefs of the people at the time of Christ, when they were confused about his identity.

Mark 6:14-15 NIV

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Others said, “He is Elijah.”

Mark 8:27-28 NIV

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”

share|improve this question
    
The Orthodox church believes that he will come back before the end and will be killed by the anti-Christ (Elijah hasn't died yet, remember). However, I am not sure what other churches believe. Are you looking for a universal belief or from a certain point of view? –  Byzantine Oct 26 '13 at 20:48
    
@Bizantine Oh I would love to know orthodox, especially since I don't think there is really a universal point of view on this one. –  aceinthehole Oct 26 '13 at 23:10
add comment

7 Answers 7

In Matthew 11:13-14 Jesus says John the Baptist is "the Elijah who was to come" before the Messiah.

share|improve this answer
add comment

According to some religions Malachi is speaking literally about Elijah coming to the Earth.

Some Jewish sects believe that Elijah would come before the Second Coming and Wikipedia states that:

In the Talmudic literature, Elijah would visit rabbis to help solve particularly
difficult legal problems. Malachi had cited Elijah as the harbinger of the eschaton.
Thus, when confronted with reconciling impossibly conflicting laws or rituals, the 
rabbis would set aside any decision “until Elijah comes.”  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah#Elijah.27s_cup

The references you used in Mark do support this Jewish belief.

In Latter-day Saint/Mormon theology, Elijah has already come. In section 110 of The Doctrine and Covenants, which the LDS Church accepts as scripture, Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in the Kirtland, Ohio temple on April 3, 1836.
http://prophetjosephsmith.org/files/2008/08/elijah-kirtland-temple-mormon.jpg

Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-16 :

13 After this vision had closed, another great and glorious vision burst upon us; 
for Elijah the prophet, who was taken to heaven without tasting death, stood before 
us, and said:
14 Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi
—testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of 
the Lord come—
15 To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the
fathers, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse—
16 Therefore, the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands; and by 
this ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors.

They believe this appearance restored the same sealing keys that Christ referenced when speaking to Peter:

Matthew 16:19 :

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou
shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on 
earth shall be loosed in heaven.

These same keys are the reason that the LDS Church builds temples and focuses so much on genealogy/family history. They believe that through the sealing keys brought by Elijah they can be with their families forever.

As far as the transfiguration is concerned in Matthew 17, that is not a "coming", just as in Acts 9 when Christ appears to Paul. This is not considered the Second Coming by Christianity.

Hope that helps.

(all references from the King James Version)

share|improve this answer
    
Hey @Byuiwritter, thanks for the response! Question though, how does the LDS church view Matthew 17, where Jesus says "But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him" if Elijah appeared at a later time to J. Smith? –  aceinthehole Nov 5 '13 at 22:20
    
They were referring to John the Baptist at this point. "Elias" is used as a title at this point, meaning forerunner, because John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for Jesus Christ. It also means restorer, as in someone who hasa specific mission to fulfill. lds.org/scriptures/gs/elias?lang=eng –  Byuiwriter Nov 10 '13 at 0:36
add comment

It's really very simple. John was not Elijah by name or body, but the flesh profits nothing; he had the spirit of Elijah. Thus, literally he was and was not Elijah. Malachi 4 is speaking of John the Baptist only in the biblical phenomenon sense of dual prophetic fulfillment. The context of the chapter is actually about the time just before the great and terrible Day of the Lord, when the faithful are joyful and the persecutors are "ashes" under their feet. In conclusion, there are two advents of Elijah to prepare the way for two advents of Messiah. We know this is true because the hearts of Jews have not been turned back to the messianic faiths of their fathers. If they studied prophecy of Scripture half as much as the mysticism of Kaballa or rabbinical interpretations in Mishnah, they would not need Elijah. Yet they teach in Judaism that Elijah must come and resolve all exegetical arguments.

The way a Christian can know that there are two comings of Elijah is by the passage attributed in Isaiah about preparing the way of the Lord. In that passage the Lord tells Elijah to "Comfort my people," because Jerusalem had already received "double" for her sins. John did not preach comfort, but that the axe was already laid at the root of the tree. Only after John was beheaded was Jerusalem destroyed a second time (i.e., twice) by the 10th Legion of Titus c. 68-70 A.D. Therefore, the end-time Elijah will be one who turns hearts to Messiah and comforts them with reassurance of salvation as the nations threaten to destroy the Jewish nation for possession of Jerusalem- or, more specifically, a Muslim capital of Jerusalem. So Elijah will be born again, if you are able to receive the truth of what this means. He and Moses will witness in Jerusalem during a troubling time and be killed and left in the streets. Then the Messiah will come and save the nation from the armies united against it. The city will not be completely destroyed for a third time. (N.B. The first time was by Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonian Empire c. 586 B.C.)

Understanding these things, we can expect a great awakening among Jews and a restoration of all truths of creation. If Elijah is not heard when he appears, the warning is not a "curse" of the land; it is properly interpreted "lest I strike the earth with utter destruction."

share|improve this answer
    
Welcome to the site! This doesn't really have much to do with your answer, but I find that sharing the following tends to help new visitors avoid mistaking the purpose of this site. I do hope to see more from you! When you get a chance, please see How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Feb 23 at 23:55
    
True I should have added (cf. Isa. 40:1-3) etc., but in assessing the answers I did not think readers would need to be directed to the passage or other passages. –  user10121 Feb 26 at 18:32
    
True I should have added (cf. Isa. 40:1-3) etc., but in assessing the answers I did not think readers would need to be directed to the passage or other passages. –  user10121 Feb 26 at 18:32
add comment

John the Baptist was Elijah. But "spiritually." This was confirmed by Jesus Christ in Matthew 17 and by the angel in Luke 1.

Matthew 17:9-13 (NIV)- "As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” The disciples asked him, “Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Luke 1:11-17(NIV)- "Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

All prophecies concerning Elijah was fulfilled through John the Baptist.

share|improve this answer
    
Malachi 4:5,6 mentions the "great and awesome day of the LORD" or "great and terrible day of the LORD" which is a direct reference to the Second Coming. See Joel 2:31, Zephaniah 1:10-18 (esp. 18) It is because of this and Malachi 4:5,6 that it is not possible that "All prophecies concerning Elijah was(sic) fulfilled through John the Baptist". –  jlaverde Feb 24 at 13:32
    
Second Coming of Jesus was supposed to be in the generation of Jesus' disciples (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). Check this link under "Preterism" - en.metapedia.org/wiki/Second_coming_of_jesus –  konwayk Feb 24 at 23:03
    
A series of prophecies had to be fulfilled first. Even Enoch was preaching about the Second Coming, but this does not mean that it would come during his time. 2 Thess. 2:1-3 was not fulfilled before 70 A.D. When the 2 Coming of Jesus happens according to 1 Thess. 4, all of the dead righteous are raised from the dead, this has not happened yet. Read 1 Corinthians 15:42-58. Has this happened yet? Especially this part, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed ...at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. –  jlaverde Mar 6 at 13:51
1  
We still die and still sin, therefore Jesus has NOT come back yet. The last trumpet has not yet sounded. You also have to ignore the whole book of Revelation to believe in Preterism. –  jlaverde Mar 6 at 13:53
1  
Have you ever read the Revelation of Jesus Christ that was given to His servant John? It is clear here that there will be a purging of sin from the entire universe. Humans were not the initiators of sin, Satan was. In the end he will be destroyed, along with all his angels, and Death and Hades will also be destroyed. Without the great tempter, and the consequence of sin with is death, THERE WILL BE NO MORE SIN. Humanity EXISTED without sin and it was because of Satan that sin entered the world. However it will not always be like that. –  jlaverde Mar 12 at 15:44
show 15 more comments

Some theologians believe that Enoch and Elijah will come back again as the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11:1-12. According to Hebrews 9:27 all men must die once, or at least once. Since Enoch and Elijah are the only two people who have not face death yet, excluding those people at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:51-53), some theologians believe that they are reserved to die at the end times (source).

If this is true, then Elijah must return before the final judgement. Apparently, Elijah and Enoch are now in Heaven or somewhere else, waiting for their time to return to earth at the time of the Antichrist, to be a witness of Christ to the Jews and all nations, to be killed in Jerusalem by the Antichrist, and to be raised again by God after 3 days.

share|improve this answer
add comment

To understand this, you must understand what Elijah's mission was, what he did and also what John the Baptist did as Jesus said:

“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

Matthew 11:11-14

John the Baptist was not the same Elijah, but He carried out Elijah's mission and purpose. In the same way, there will be an Elijah in the last days.

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. Malachi 4:5, 6.

The closing words of Malachi are a prophecy regarding the work that should be done preparatory to the first and the second advent of Christ. Those who are to prepare the way for the second coming of Christ are represented by faithful Elijah, as John came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Christ’s first advent. Our message must be as direct as was that of John. He rebuked kings for their iniquity. Notwithstanding the peril his life was in, he never allowed truth to languish on his lips.... In this time of well-nigh universal apostasy, God calls upon His messengers to proclaim His law in the spirit and power of Elias. As John the Baptist, in preparing a people for Christ’s first advent, called their attention to the Ten Commandments, so we are to give, with no uncertain sound, the message: “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come.” With the earnestness that characterized Elijah the prophet and John the Baptist, we are to strive to prepare the way for Christ’s second advent. The hour of God’s judgment has come, and upon the members of His church on earth rests the solemn responsibility of giving warning to those who are standing as it were on the very brink of eternal ruin. All can do something in the work. None will be pronounced guiltless before God unless they have worked earnestly and unselfishly for the salvation of souls. Your duty cannot be shifted upon another. No one but yourself can do your work. If you withhold your light, someone must be left in darkness through your neglect. The Lord has a place for everyone in His great plan.

The Faith I live By, P. 290

share|improve this answer
add comment

It is commonly believed that Enoch will accompany Elijah during the 3.5 years in Jerusalem, but there is little reason to do so. The only answer given for positing Enoch is do to the fact that in Genesis it is disclosed that he "was not, for God took him." The eschatological answer is usually that he did not die, which somehow makes him a prime choice to accompany Elijah. But saying Enoch "was not" does not mean he did not die. Joseph's brothers replied unbeknownst to him (i.e., with not recognizing him) that he "was not." But that did not mean he floated in his body into Heaven.

I also do not think that the Lord taking Enoch meant he did not die. We often say similar things about loved ones that are special to us (e.g., the Lord took him home).

Nevertheless, even supposing Enoch did not die, the general passage about it being "appointed once for man to die, and then comes the judgment" is not all-inclusive; we know of several examples where people who were raised to life died once again. Moreover, if the passage is absolutely literal in dying once, numerous contradictions can be asserted. Yet if it is a general truth- that once people die they face individual judgment- there is no contradiction.

Furthermore, Elijah- the only prophet to the ten-tribe northern nation of Israel- wrote a letter to the King of Judah after his supposed ascension. Rabbis and Christian theologians often posit that the letter was written in advance for the future rebuke, but those presumptions are only based upon their prior unfounded belief that Elijah's whirlwind trip in a fiery chariot was the end of his life on Earth. Clearly, if taken in context, he was seeking to leave his servant Elisha to take over his duties- Elisha refusing to leave him, but following whereever he went.

Finally, the Enoch explanation does not make complete sense. Enoch lived in prediluvian times, long before Israel became a nation. It sounds odd that he would participate in Elijah's restoration, where the people are to "remember the law (i.e., Torah) of Moses (cf.Mal 4). It makes more sense that someone who wrote the Torah would play the essential role of restoring truths from it, not someone who lived as a Gentile long before the Exodus from Egypt. And when we factor in the signs of the two witnesses and the transfiguration scene of Messiah's coming glory (where Moses and Elijah spoke with Him), I think the case is pretty much sealed. Moses will be born again just as John the Baptist was with the spirit of Elijah; we need not let our doctrines get in the way of Scripture.

share|improve this answer
    
This is not true brother as it is supported by Scripture that Enoch did not die. Hebrews 11:5 states, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." –  jlaverde Mar 6 at 13:59
    
Enoch was listed by Paul with "all" of those who died without seeing the promises. Thus, my exegetics correlate with the sum of Scriptures, whereas your assessment is fair but lacking. –  user10121 Mar 23 at 14:35
    
No, they don't. I think it is pretty clear that Enoch and Elijah were translated without seeing death. In Genesis 5, when the lineage Seth are listed, it says about ALL with the exception of Enoch, "and he died." About Enoch it says in v. 24, "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Pretty clear cut difference. Explicitly different. Now, this is confirmed by the author of Hebrews in the text quoted above. Both explicit. I'm sorry friend but it is very clear that the Bible teaches that Enoch was translated without seeing death. As for your comment, please provide a text. –  jlaverde Mar 24 at 12:18
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.