555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

117. Was John the Baptist Elijah?

The statement in the affirmative is made a number of times in the New Testament (See Matt 11:14, 17:10-12; Mark 9:12,13. See also Mat 4:5.) But some of the ablest commentators hold that we must interpret the connection figuratively, and that there is no reason for believing that this means any more than that he was the new Elijah of his time, a rugged prophet, like Elijah in temperament, habits and speech, unafraid even of kings. He himself said distinctiy that he was not Elijah (John 1:21). The sense in which the expression was used is made clear in Luke I :17: "He shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah." In the narrative of Elijah's appearance at the transfiguration there is no suggestion that he was John the Baptist, whom all the men present had known and seen, and who had only recently died. One of the things that distinguishes the philosophy of the Bible from that of uninspired teachings is that it never confuses or obscures personal identity. Each soul has a distinct personality, which can never be merged or changed into another.