ELIJAH & JOHN THE BAPTIST: ARE THEY THE SAME PERSON?

ELIJAH & JOHN THE BAPTIST: ARE THEY THE SAME PERSON?



INBOX QUESTION:
“BUT THE BIBLE MAKES REFERENCE OF JESUS TALKING ABOUT ELIJAH RETURNING IN THE FORM OF JOHN THE BAPTIST; IS THIS NOT A SUPPORT FOR REINCARNATION?”

SHORT RESPONSE:
No, that has NOTHING to do with REINCARNATION. Scripture teaches that “it is appointed that men die once, and after this comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). There is absolutely no biblical evidence for reincarnation.

Let us understand the context of the message of Christ. 
In Matthew 17:12 Christ says, “I tell you Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him.” Matthew adds, “Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist” (Mt 17:13). Is Jesus saying that John was the reincarnation of Elijah? NO. Here’s the simple reason. According to 2 Kings 2:9-18, Elijah was taken up bodily into heaven without seeing death. THUS HE WASN’T A CANDIDATE OF REINCARNATION BECAUSE HE WAS STILL IN HIS ORIGINAL INCARNATION. Hence, reincarnation can only take place after one has experienced death.

In Matthew 17:1-8, Moses and Elijah appeared to Christ and three of his disciples at the Transfiguration. This occurred after John the Baptist had been executed by Herod Antipas. Why is it, then, that Moses and Elijah appeared to Christ and his disciples, and not Moses and John the Baptist?
If Christ doesn’t mean John the Baptist is the reincarnation of Elijah, what does he mean? Jesus is speaking FIGURATIVELY in Matthew 17:12. He’s comparing the prophetic ministry of John in the New Testament to that of Elijah in the Old. Similarly, Luke 1:17 says John “will go before him (the Lord) in the spirit and power of Elijah.”

So there’s no biblical basis for reincarnation. The Fathers of the Church generally confirm this approach to John the Baptist and his role as Elijah, not the actual Elijah.
1. St Jerome – That He says, this is Elijah, is figurative – (Quoted in the Catena Aurea)
2. St. Jerome – St. John the Baptist is called Elijah, not in accordance with foolish philosophers and certain heretics who introduce the topic of metemphychosis (transmigration of souls), but because, according to other evidence of the gospel, he came in the spirit and goodness of Elijah and had either the same grace or power of the Holy Spirit.

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