Central to this question of will Elijah return is a prophecy given by Malachi. Elijah was a prophet that lived during the final days of the judges, just before the first King Saul was installed over the twelve tribes of Israel. He lived roughly seven hundred years before Malachi, yet Malachi prophesies that Elijah will return. The prophecy is from Malachi 4:5-6 and represents the very last words in the Old Testament:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.

The attention that this question gathers is rather significant. For example, David Jeremiah addresses this in his blog. Near the end of the article, the question is finally answered. He says, “Elijah will return according to Malachi’s prophecy”, going on to speculate that Elijah will be one of the two witnesses from Revelation 11 and asserting that “most scholars believe one of the two witnesses will be Elijah.”

So will Elijah return? Does Scripture concur with David Jeremiah and “most scholars?”

how Scripture answers "Will Elijah return?"

an answer short on commentary and long on Scripture as footnoted1 | please contribute with your comment at the bottom

Elijah has already come, and it was John the Baptist1,2,3. This is made clear by both an angel of God1 and Jesus Himself2 in a straightforward and perfect example of Scripture interpreting Scripture. In fact, even if we only had Malachi to consider, when looking at its broader context3 we can see the hint at this answer. It’s not a mystery! It doesn’t need to be difficult; God has answered it. And isn’t it fitting that in the very last verses of the Old Testament before roughly four hundred years of silence from God, the Testaments are connected by a promise from God and His fulfillment!

Yet David Jeremiah in his “response” never even mentions these passages1,2. Instead, he chooses to speculate and conjure vague and misguided explanations from unrelated texts. Surely a committed Bible student and teacher like David Jeremiah knows about these passages? Why would he choose to ignore them? It’s as if Jesus was speaking directly to David Jeremiah when, after He confirms the Malachi prophecy was about John the Baptist says, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15)

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following Scripture Blocks

1
And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him 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 for the Lord a people prepared.
He will turn many of the children of Israel to God and he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah in order to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, in order to prepare the people for the Lord’s coming.

An angel of God has appeared to Zechariah while he is performing his duties in the temple and tells him about the son that his wife Elizabeth will bear that they will call his name John (vs 13).

How does it inform?

God’s angel foretells John the Baptist by directly quoting Malachi 4:6 and the effect that his coming would have on the people. The angel clarifies the prophecy isn’t a reincarnation but rather “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” In other words, John the Baptist will be “another Elijah” – sharing similar look, style, purpose, etc.

Does it apply? Yes

2
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
All the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John [the Baptist] came, and if you are willing to acknowledge it, he is Elijah who is to come.

John the Baptist has been put in prison by Herod and facing eminent execution he asks his followers to go and ask Jesus if He is really the Messiah.  When approached by them, Jesus praises the work and mission of John the Baptist in announcing His coming.

How does it inform?

Jesus confirms that John the Baptist was the Elijah that was to come.

Does it apply? Yes

3
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me. And the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight is coming, says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi’s prophecy to those that returned from Babylonian/Persian captivity around 450 BC.

How does it inform?

Cited by Jesus and recorded in all three Gospels (Matt 11:10, Mk 1:2, Lk 7:27) that the “messenger” Malachi was referring to was John the Baptist.

Does it apply? Yes

Do you agree? If so, share this question and the Bible Study Framework with others.

If you know of some other verses or you have something to add to the verses already listed for this question please leave a comment below! We welcome the public discussion and will incorporate your input into the Framework above. We have nothing to hide and invite your help in considering all that God’s word has to say.

what do you think?

Send Us Your Question