Life Now and Hereafter

A Restoration Light Site

Print This Post Print This Post

Was John the Baptist the Reincarnation of Elijah?


The theory of reincarnation is nowhere taught in the Scriptures. Jesus and his apostles never, in all their teachings, said a word about reincarnation. Nor do we find any idea in the Scriptures of an innate immortal soul or spirit.

Matthew 11:14 –  If you are willing to receive it, this is Elijah, who is to come.

Matthew 17:12 –     but I tell you that Elijah has come already, and they didn’t recognize him, but did to him whatever they wanted to. Even so will the Son of Man also suffer by them.”

Luke 1:17 –   He will go before his [Yahweh’s] face in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for [Yahweh].”

John 1:21 – They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.

Regarding Elijah, Jesus was calling to mind the prophecy of Malachi. 4:5,6. Jesus did not say that Elijah was the reincarnation of Elijah, such a thought has to be added to and read into what Jesus said. Jesus was pointing out how Elijah serves as an allegorical type of the work John the Baptist was given to do. Forms of the Greek word “eimi”, translated “is” in the expression of Matthew 11:14, is often used to express the symbology of one related to the other. “This is Elijah”, in effect, would be the same as we would say in modern English, “This one is represented by what Elijah did.”

Thus, when Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13), Jesus did not mean that his disciples were literally salt, but he used “salt” as a symbol, a representation.

When Jesus said: “The lamp of the body is the eye” (Matthew 6:22), Jesus was saying that the eye is a literal lamp.

When Jesus stated what many call the “Golden Rule” and then stated: “this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12), Jesus was not telling them that he just read to them everything in the Law and the Prophets, but he is saying that what he had just stated represents a summation of “the law and the prophets.”

When Jesus said “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35,41, 48), Jesus was not saying that he was literally “bread”; he was, in effect, saying, “I am represented by the bread, and this symbolic bread, unlike the bread (manna) that the Israel received before, can give life.”

When Jesus said: “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5), Jesus was not saying that he was literally a light, but that he is represented by the symbology of “light”, as “light” represents righteousness and truth.

When Jesus said: ” I am the door” (John 10:7), Jesus was not saying that he was literally a door, but that he serves the function that is represented by the door.

We are skipping many similar usages of this kind of language, but will sum up with one more.

In speaking of Hagar and Sarah, and their respective sons, Paul wrote:

Galatians 4:24 These things contain an allegory, for these are [represent] two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children to bondage, which is [represented by] Hagar.  25 For this Hagar is [represents] Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answers to the Jerusalem that exists now, for she is in bondage with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above [greater] is [represented by the] free [woman], which is [represents] the mother of us all.

Paul is not saying that the two women are literally two covenants, but that the two women are being used as allegorical picture, a type, to represent the two covenants. This is the same thing that Jesus was doing when he said of John the Baptist: “This is Elijah.”

John the Baptist was one of the greatest of the Prophets (no greater prophet than John), and it was his mission to prepare the way before Yahweh through preaching repentance to the people, so that a people would be ready for the promised Messsiah.  This message was to the Jews only and to them only as they had been Yahweh’s chosen people for many centuries. But now a new work was about to be ushered in. And it was John’s mission to prepare the people for that great change. This he did in the power and spirit of Elijah, not that he was actually the person Elijah. (Luke 1:16,17) We know positively that John was not actually “Elijah” the person, for we have his own testimony on the subject:

They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No. — John 1:21.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.