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Did the prophet Elijah return?

Submitted: 12/2/2012
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Question: Did the prophet Elijah ever return? In scripture Malachi it is said that Elijah would return the same way he left on a chariot of fire before the Messiah. So if Elijah was to anoint the Messiah, does that mean that John the Baptist was Elijah? If he is does that not mean Elijah has been reincarnated as John the Baptist? This surely goes against Christian and Jewish teachings. Plus didn't John the Baptist deny he was Elijah? Can you please clear this up?

Answer: Luke 1:17 says this about John the Baptist, 'He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah.' John the Baptist was not Elijah and was not a reincarnation of Elijah. He simply had the same anointing as Elijah. Just as Elijah prepared the way for Elisha, John prepared the way for Jesus. Interestingly, both the name Jesus and the name Elisha means 'God is salvation.' The book of Malachi says nothing about Elijah returning in the exact same way that he departed. Neither does it say that Elijah would anoint the Messiah. You need to read your Bible more carefully.