Yes. I mean, no. I mean, yes. If you casually look at the scriptures on this subject, that’s the answer you’ll get. Allow me to demonstrate:
Luke 1:17 And he [John] shall go before him [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elias …
So Gabriel says John is the Elijah.
John 1:21 And they asked him [John], What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. ..
John flatly states that he was NOT the Elijah. But Gabriel said he was! Who was wrong? Christ said that neither was! He asked the crowds following him about John, saying…
Matthew 11:7, 9 … What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? … But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
“What did you expect out of John? A wimp? A soft-speaking wuss? No, you expected a prophet. And you got one!”
Verse 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
Jesus said that John was fulfilling the prophecy written in Malachi 3:1, which prophesied of the coming of Elijah (compare to Malachi 4:5-6). But he gets clearer in a moment…
Verses 14-15 And IF ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
So Jesus said that this WAS Elijah, John said he WASN’T, Gabriel said he WAS. Which is it? As I said, both. See, John was wrong. Sort of. God has written most prophecies in the Bible, perhaps all, with a principle of duality. Meaning that they are fulfilled on more than one level, or more than one time. The Olivet prophecy for example.
The prophecy stated that Jerusalem would be surrounded by armies and instructed Jesus’ disciples to flee to the mountains. This and many of the other things in Matthew 24 literally happened in 70 A.D., when Titus destroyed Jerusalem. But only part of the prophecies were fulfilled! It WAS a fulfillment, but not the only fulfillment EVER!
John knew that Elijah worked miracles, and had great power. And he knew full well that it was prophesied by Gabriel that he was the Elijah – but he also knew he hadn’t fulfilled all the prophecies of Elijah!
James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
John had never done this! John hadn’t raised the dead, called fire down from heaven or done ONE SINGLE MIRACLE!
John 10:41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.
So John knew that he WASN’T the Elijah. Besides which, John didn’t “restore all things” (see next reference), because there was a lot of understanding that John didn’t understand and teach – but in spite of that, Jesus said he WAS the Elijah because he fulfilled the first TYPE of Elijah – John was a sort of sneak preview of the Elijah!
Matthew 17:10-12 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, AND RESTORE ALL THINGS. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not …
Notice Jesus’ careful use of tenses – that Elijah SHALL (future tense) come, but Elijah HAS (is) come (past tense) and they didn’t know him. But now let’s ask another question – why did John think that Jesus was NOT the Messiah?
Matthew 11:2-3 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
WHAT? How could John POSSIBLY ASK THAT? He KNEW that Jesus was the Christ!
John 1:32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.
John had seen this sign that Jesus was the Christ. He KNEW it. And yet after Jesus preached for about two years (more or less) John DOUBTED that Jesus was the Christ! How is that possible? Quite simple! John didn’t understand the principle of duality. Jesus WAS the one who was coming to save His people. But He was NOT coming to restore the kingdom to Israel. We take that for granted today as an accepted fact, but be honest – had you read this scripture, would you have figured it out?
Isaiah 61:1-2 … he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
C’mon, would YOU have known there was supposed to be a break between “year of the LORD” and “the day of vengeance of our God”? Yet Jesus proved there was when He stopped reading mid-sentence after “year of the Lord”, and said “this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21). The only part of that scripture He fulfilled ENDED at “year of the LORD”. The NEXT time He comes He will fulfill the NEXT verses! No one in Israel understood this in Jesus’ day! (Acts 1:6).
And so since John KNEW that Jesus was supposed to take vengeance on all those who don’t obey God, and be set up as physical King of Kings and restore Israel to world power again (Isaiah 9:6-7), and since Jesus HADN’T DONE THAT, John was starting to doubt if He WAS the Christ! Just as John knew that he, himself hadn’t fulfilled the prophecies of Elijah and therefore didn’t believe that he was the Elijah, despite Gabriel’s words to the contrary!
See, Jesus and John were the nice guys. They were the kinder, gentler versions of themselves. John worked no miracles, and though he had a tart tongue, he didn’t call fire down from heaven or cause it to stop raining for three and a half years.
This was the Jesus and the Elijah for those who would listen – those who actually WANTED to hear.
Matthew 11:14-15 And IF YOU WILL RECEIVE IT, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
John 12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
If you don’t receive it, then fine – this isn’t the Elijah for you. Don’t want to hear Christ? No big deal, you won’t be struck by lightning for unbelief. This was ONLY the Jesus and John for those who wanted the truth. They wouldn’t cram their religion down anyone’s throat or call fire down from heaven on those who wouldn’t hear them.
Luke 9:52-56 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him … And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, EVEN AS ELIAS DID? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
Notice the identical wording used here as was used for John the baptist – it says here they “sent messengers before his face”, and John was “a messenger to prepare the way before him” (Malachi 3:1). And because the people wouldn’t receive Him, the disciples wanted Jesus to call fire down from heaven, like Elijah did! Because the disciples thought that in THAT time, with THAT version of Jesus, they were in “the day of vengeance of our God”, they wanted to call fire down from heaven and avenge Jesus!
But Jesus said NO! Because THIS WASN’T THE TIME, this was the wrong version of Jesus for that sort of thing! The were following the wrong “type of spirit” for that! So Jesus said “you don’t know what manner of spirit you are of” (or what type of spirit you are following, i.e., Jesus’ meek spirit compared to His prophesied spirit of wrath and judgment). That Jesus didn’t come to kill men – that time – He came to save them, and that only IF they had ears to hear. Otherwise, He’d just go to another village as He did here.
Matthew 17:12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
Jesus and John both came as a lamb to the slaughter last time. The next time they come, they’ll be full grown rams. The next versions of John and Jesus will not be “nice”. They will be coming armed to the teeth ready to make war.
Revelation 19:11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
This Jesus won’t care if you want to hear it or not. He is coming to judge the world for it’s sins, and if you don’t want to hear Him then, you can just add your blood to that great pool that runs to the horses bridles at the battle of Armageddon.
Verse 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
He’s ANGRY and will rule with a rod of iron – no more of this “he that has an ear, let him hear” stuff – instead, if you won’t hear, you won’t have an ear to hear with! The last Jesus came as a lamb to the slaughter. The next comes as a ram to destroy and break in pieces the governments of this Earth and all those who support them.
So yes, John WAS the Elijah, within the parameters of what God intended for the first Elijah. Jesus WAS the Christ, within the parameters of what was intended for the time. John never understood either of those things, as far as we know.
But to see the fulfillment of ALL the prophecies of Elijah and Jesus… just wait a few years…