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This study will be looking at the final references to Elijah in the Old and also the New Testament. It may be good to share these readings: hand out copies of verses from these first 3 pages (Link to PDF HERE)

Deuteronomy 18:15-18
15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire any more, or we will die.”

17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.


Isaiah 40:3-5

3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord;

make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;

the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, nd all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


Malachi 3:1

1 “See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.


Last verses in the Old Testament:

Malachi 4:5-6

5 “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”


Luke 1:11-17
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 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 give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 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 from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Matthew 3:3

3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

make straight paths for him.’ ”


Luke 3:3

3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.


Matthew 11:7-13

7 As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? 8 If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. 9 Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:

“ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way before you.’ (Malachi 3:1 - above)

11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears, let him hear.


John 1:19-27

19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. 20 He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.”

21 They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.”

22 Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” (Isaiah 40:3)

24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptise if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

26  “I baptise with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”



Matthew 17:10-13 & Mark 9:11-13
10 The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"  11 Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 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." 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.



Luke 9:27-36 (also Matthew 17:1-9 and Mark 9:2-13)

27 I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 (Behold) Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no-one at that time what they had seen.


Revelation 11:3-6

3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.



Prophecies concerning Jesus


Hosea 3:5

5 Afterwards the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.


Ezekiel 34:23-24

23 I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. 24 I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.



We are looking at the final references to Elijah in the Old and also the New Testament. The first of these in the New Testament concern John the Baptist. Prophecy states that Elijah would come before the Messiah, and Jesus said that John was Elijah – but John said he wasn’t.


First, we need to clear up the difference between reincarnation and resurrection. For Elijah to come back from the dead – that would be resurrection. That was a concept accepted by Jewish thought: Job 19:26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;

And Daniel 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

(See also Ezekiel 37 – Valley of dry bones)


Reincarnation would mean that Elijah’s soul had somehow been transferred to someone else so he could live his life again – but scripture teaches us that there is no second chance, we have one life and after that we have to face the judgement seat of Christ. (Hebrews 9:27, Matthew 25:46, Romans 6:23, Job 7:9-10, 8:12-13, 10:21, 14:10-12). Elijah also appeared with Jesus on the mount of Transfiguration, still recognisably as Elijah – not John the Baptist!


So for John the Baptist to have literally been Elijah, it would have had to have been a resurrection, not a reincarnation. But from what was known of John’s birth and early days (Luke 1:11-17), and the assumed age of Elijah when he was taken into Heaven, resurrection too would have to be ruled out. And John himself denied that he was Elijah (John 1v21).


But john does accept that he is the Messenger of Isaiah 40:3 (John 1:23), rather than the Elijah of Malachi 3:1


We saw in the last study that when Elijah was taken up into heaven Elisha asked if he could inherit a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. 2 Kings 2:15 tells us that after Elisha had assumed Elijah’s mantle 15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.


We are also told in Luke 1:17 he (John) will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah.


Elijah’s role was to prepare the way for the people to repent and turn back to the Lord :  1 Kings 18:37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” – and to confront wicked King Ahab with his sin (1 Kings 21).


John the Baptist pointed the way to Jesus, telling people to repent. And he too was not afraid to confront King Herod with his sin.


But we have a difficulty in John 1:21 where the Religious Leaders came to John and asked him outright ‘Are you Elijah?’ to which he replied ‘No’. Compare that with the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:14 if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.


John knew he was John, not Elijah, and it was not for John to say that he had the spirit of Elijah. That would be for other people to recognise. The important thing here is contained in what Jesus said: ‘if you are willing to accept it’. To accept that John was the forerunner means that we must therefore accept that Jesus was the Messiah. And that was the sticking point for the Religious Leaders. But for those who were to accept Jesus as Lord, John was truly their Elijah.


For those who still find this a problem, it might help to look at the prophecies concerning Jesus. In passages such as Hosea 3:5 and Ezekiel 34:23-24, the Messianic king is called "David." But this does not mean that Christ is a reincarnation or resurrection of David, or that David was prophesied to return to earth to reign. David was simply a ‘type’ or an example pointing to Jesus.


The second mention of Elijah is at the Transfiguration of Jesus Luke 9:28-29. What was going on? Jesus ‘took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray’; that was not an uncommon thing. We are also told verse 32: ‘Peter and his companions were very sleepy’; that too was perfectly natural. But what a shock ‘when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him’.


29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.


Firstly it seems that Jesus had truly been in the presence of God. Matthew (17:2) says his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. In a way this was similar to Moses: Exodus 34:29

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.


But that was reflected Glory. In the case of Jesus this was demonstrating the Glory that rightly belonged to him.


30 (Behold) Two men, Moses and Elijah, 31 appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus. We should note that here is another ‘Behold’. It’s there to draw attention to the fact that it’s actually an amazing thing that’s taking place and it’s worth pausing to think about it.


What should we understand by ‘Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour ’? Presumably these were their resurrection bodies – and interestingly, they were recognisable to those who hadn’t known them!


This was a demonstration of Jesus’ true glory in front of three witnesses. Then when God spoke it was also a confirmation of Jesus’ sonship and authority from God himself – in the presence of two heavenly witnesses. But why were Moses and Elijah chosen? The standard answer is because they represent ‘the Law and the Prophets’. That’s fine – but wasn’t Isaiah or Jeremiah a greater prophet? Why pick Elijah?


Some suggest that it was because he still had a body – he had been taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. But that belittles the power of God, and besides, Moses died and was buried (Deuteronomy 34:5-6) so his body would have turned to dust long ago.


No, I think they had specifically been chosen because they uniquely would be able to contribute to the discussion. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfilment at Jerusalem.


What were they talking about? His departure. All that was about to take place at Calvary.


What would Moses be able to bring if you were to talk about the legal necessity of a sacrificial offering for sin? Moses had uniquely been given an insight into the mind of God as he wrote down the requirements. He certainly knew that ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’. (Hebrews 9:22)

What did Elijah know about a sacrifice standing between sinful people and the wrath of God? Both would have been able to confirm that the sacrifice of God’s sinless son would be the only way to provide salvation for a fallen world. And their presence with Jesus was confirmation that God would certainly be able to raise him to life again!


And perhaps Elijah could particularly help, knowing the desolation that Jesus would feel in the Garden of Gethsemane, when it seemed that almost the whole world was against him.


Also is seems that this was a discussion about how Jesus would fulfil ‘all of the Law and the Prophets’. All that Moses and Elijah stood for was coming to a glorious climax in the death and resurrection of the Messiah.


Finally we come to the last reference to Elijah (and Moses) – and their names are not even mentioned.


Revelation 11:3-6

3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.


Like all the saints of old, Elijah had his failings – but that didn’t stop God from using him to His Glory. Using all the events of his life, not only for the work he had for him on Earth, but as a preparation, to train him for the ultimate position of authority to which he would finally be called.





1 Kings Elijah 19








ELIJAH 21 Various scripture references to Elijah in the rest of the Bible

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