John the Baptist was, and yet was not, Elijah

Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah. John said that he was not. How do we reconcile these statements?

First published on the 18th of March 2016 — Last updated on the 13th of January 2022

John the Baptist said he was not Elijah

The link between John the Baptist and Elijah is rather puzzling.

Jesus said that John the Baptist was Elijah.

John said he was not.   So how do we reconcile these statements?

JOHN 1:19

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

:21     And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not.

Elias is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew name Elijah.

Yet Jesus said John the Baptist was Elijah

But when Jesus spoke about John the Baptist, He said


And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

An unusual point, that most people miss, is that the two Scriptures that refer to John the Baptist are only partially fulfilled by him. So keep in mind that these Scriptures can only be fully fulfilled if they refer to two prophets, John the Baptist and someone else who is to come along later.

The first of these two Scriptures are:


Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

:5     Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

The great and dreadful day of the Lord is the Tribulation time. So this Elijah does not refer to the Jewish prophet Elijah that accompanies Moses to turn the 144000 Jews to Christ during the Tribulation.

Turns fathers to children and also children to fathers

So Elijah must come before the 3.5 years of great Tribulation starts. John the Baptist came 2000 years before the starting time of great Tribulation. That is a very long time indeed if John is the only Elijah being referred to. But if there is another Elijah that is needed to completely fulfill the prophecy, then he must also come before great Tribulation. But that is the time when God is still dealing with the Gentiles. Thus it seems that he must be a Gentile prophet.


And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

This Elijah does refer to John the Baptist. But his ministry is puzzling. John must turn the unbelieving generation of the Jewish fathers who followed the Law to the younger generation of their children who had the Truth, namely Jesus and His disciples.

Soon after the time that he had pointed out Jesus,  John was put in prison. It would be pointless for him to try to turn Jesus and His disciples to the beliefs of the Jewish fathers who kept the law. Firstly, no-one can offer Jesus advice or direction. He is perfect in His knowledge. Secondly, the Jewish fathers had it all wrong, and endlessly opposed Jesus until they killed Him. Why should Jesus turn to them? He was Truth, they were in error.

This Scripture refers to John the Baptist.

LUKE 1:17

And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias,

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 the Lord.

This Scripture makes it clear that John the Baptist only fulfilled the first part of the prophecy. He rebuked the disobedient Jewish leaders and elders (the fathers) and tried to turn them to the wisdom of Jesus and His disciples (the younger generation, the children) who would do the preaching once Jesus left the scene.

He did not fulfill the part where it says


...“and (turn) the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse”.

A curse lingers. Like the radioactivity that stays behind when an atomic bomb explodes. Atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs are a preview of the horror of the 3.5 years of great Tribulation time where millions will simply be atomic fodder.

If it is true that another prophet must come before this ghastly great Tribulation starts, then what will be his ministry?

We cannot just have a prophet pitching up and doing his own thing.

What is it that God wants him to do?

He must turn the children to their fathers.

What does this mean?

I JOHN 2:13

I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

The apostle John is writing to the Christians who will span 2000 years of church history. The first believers are called fathers. They are the disciples and the early church that knew Jesus.

The disciples at first were called children as they were the younger generation compared to the older generation of Jewish leaders who were the generation of their fathers. Then the disciples became the leaders of the church and as such they wrote the New Testament and lived out the Book of Acts, making them the fathers of Christianity. John the Baptist turned the Jewish fathers to their children, the disciples of Jesus. These disciples then grew to become the fathers of the church. (Children grow up and become fathers).  The church then lost direction in the Dark Ages but a younger generation of men, the great reformers like Luther and Wesley, ripped the church out of the darkness and overcame the Roman Catholic stranglehold on the people.

Finally, in the end, the last generation of little children (who are you and me) need to understand the truth about the Godhead so that we know that Jesus Christ has the Fullness of the Godhead (which is God the Father) dwelling in Him.

COLOSSIANS 2:9   For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

It is this final generation of little children that Elijah must turn back to the doctrines of the early church fathers. His ministry is to lead us back to the Bible truths of the New Testament. Just like children are taught by their fathers, so the end-time Christians must learn from the apostolic fathers who wrote the New Testament.

The next verse has a double meaning.

Jesus wanted to bless the little Jewish children.

But there was the deeper meaning of the little children (today's Christians) at the end of the 2000 years of church history having to suffer in order to get away from Trinity and return to Jesus Who is the only Person in the Godhead.
MARK 10:14   But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them,

Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not:

for of such is the kingdom of God.

That means that the churches who preach Trinity are in trouble with God.

Little children do not understand their complex world and they are hungry to have some direction from their parents. So end-time Christians should be hungry to hear from the New Testament which our Christian fathers wrote.

Going back to the New Testament gives us direction and purpose.

We know what to aim for. The alternative is our spectrum of many different churches, all 45000 different denominational and non-denominational churches, that all follow their respective leaders in a maze of different directions. Each one believing that they are right, yet suffering from an emptiness of Scripture.

An end-time prophet is not someone that we need to follow in everything he says.

We only follow what the prophet says when he points us back to the Bible.

Then it is the Bible that we follow, not the prophet.

If this prophet tells us his life story or tells us about his hunting exploits, then all of that is not really relevant to his Scriptural ministry. You can believe it or ignore it or find fault with it.

It is not part of his main ministry.

God will judge him by how effectively he turned us back to believing the Bible. All other issues are not part of God’s Big Picture which is the Spiritual Wave that sweeps through our modern times. Being part of this unseen Scriptural Wave is all that counts.

1 JOHN 2 :13

I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father

You can only know the Father if you know His name.

The end-time Elijah must finish the mystery of God by making it clear to us who the Father is. He must ensure that he dismantles the opinions of the modern-day churches’  traditions and shows us what the early church believed. We must focus on returning to the beliefs of the early church and not speculating on issues that they did not believe in.

The churches today do not know the name of God the Father.

They call Him Adonai which means Lord. Lord is not a name.

They call Him El, Elah, or Elohim which means God.  God is not the name of God.

They call Him Jehovah. This is man-made. This comes from JHVH which has no vowels and cannot be pronounced.

Actually, the original is YHWH because the letter "J" only entered the English alphabet around 1500.

But YHWH cannot be pronounced and thus cannot be used as a name. You have to be able to pronounce a name.

Thus, in the Old Testament, the Father had no name. His name was secret.

Samson's parents asked for the name of God.

JUDGES 13:18   And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?

JUDGES 13:22   And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.

In the Old Testament God was not even called "God the Father".  That expression first appears in the Gospel of John. Trinitarians cannot explain that.

So, in the Trinity, the Father has no name.

The Old Testament name of Jehovah is never mentioned in the New Testament.

Trinitarians cannot explain this.

In the Truth, Jesus is the human name of God. God had no name in the Old Testament until He found a Human that He could fully live in.

Then the nameless Father took on the human name of Jesus.

The end-time Elijah has to reveal this mystery to the end-time children so that they know that the Jesus of the New Testament is the Father of the Old Testament.


The early church of the New Testament did not claim that Jesus had come.

They did not claim to know what the 7 Thunders said.

They did not know the new Name of Jesus.

They did not believe that mercy was over.

They did not believe that a big supernatural cloud was the coming of the Lord, almost 60 years ago.

So we should also not believe these ideas.

Once the New Testament was written, they did not believe that any man could contradict Scripture or claim that there was a mistake in the Bible.

Nor did they regard any man’s quotes as being equal to Scripture or being above the written statements of the Bible.

If we make any mistakes like these, it simply means that we have missed the purpose for which God promised to send Elijah.

His ministry has two simple thrusts about which we must agree with him:

Elijah had already come yet was still to come

A future coming of Elijah was necessary in order to restore the truth that the churches lost during the church ages.

A second reference to John the Baptist again leaves us with the puzzling thought that he could not fulfill the entire Scripture.


And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?

:11     And Jesus answered and said unto them,

Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

: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.

:13     Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

So John had come  (“is come already” is past tense).  That part of the prophecy was obviously fulfilled. John had come and been killed.

The future Elijah has to restore the Bible truth

MATTHEW 17::11     And Jesus answered and said unto them,

Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.

But notice verse 11:

Elias truly shall first come

(“shall” is referring to a future event)

and “restore all things”.

Now Jesus begins to talk about the future. But John was already dead.

John did not restore anything.

He came to introduce Messiah. This had never happened before.

He introduced Israel to water baptism. They had never done that before.

Paul and the apostles established the early church in the truth. Then the truth began to get lost.

In the second church age (after AD 170) they had Bishops in charge of a city.

In the third church age, at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325, the Emperor Constantine forced the beginning of the Trinity doctrine onto the church.

In the fourth church age, the Pope became the Universal Bishop and dominated Europe politically. He sold the forgiveness of sins and established a huge church structure that was dedicated to the Trinity and baptizing infants in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The Catholic church sunk to the pits of depraved living and killing. Most Bible truth was basically lost.

In the fifth church age that started the Reformation around 1520, Martin Luther restored salvation by faith.

In the sixth church age that started with the industrial revolution around 1750, John Wesley preached holiness and outreach which led to the great missionary age.

In 1906 the seventh church age saw the Welsh revival of 1904 and the American Pentecostal revival of 1906 in Azusa Street in Los Angeles. The Pentecostals restored the spiritual gifts but could not restore the church back to the beliefs of the first church-age apostles.

They were unable to puzzle out the name of their Trinity God and rejected the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ. They fell for the 7-year Tribulation of the other churches and claimed that the Antichrist would make a covenant with the Jews as they could not explain why Daniel says he confirms a covenant. A confirmed covenant has to be made beforehand and it cannot be broken. That baffles the churches. So an end-time prophet is needed to restore the Bible truth of the original apostles and reveal the name of Almighty God.

John began the Gospel so he did not restore

John’s ministry was the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was not a restoration, as the Jews had never had the Gospel before.

MARK 1:1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,

the Son of God;

:2   As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

:3   The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

:4   John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

So, who is the Elijah that restores all things?

Jesus said that he shall come in the future.

Something can only be restored if it has first been lost or damaged.

During the Dark Ages Christianity fell into an awful state of pagan superstitions and unscriptural opinions. Then Luther restored Justification by Faith. Wesley restored Holiness and Outreach to the lost. Pentecost restored the Baptism of the Holy Ghost.

But many mysteries remained that the reformers were unable to explain. Ask Christians what the original sin was and you get vague answers like "They were disobedient", which tells us nothing.

Ask Christians what the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit is and they are baffled, as they cannot find one Name for three Persons.

When a woman was taken in adultery, Jesus twice wrote in the sand. Why? Most Christians just shrug their shoulders. The writing in the sand means nothing to them. They simply cannot understand it.

So we need someone to fully restore us back to all the truths of the Bible that we need to know in order to prepare for the Coming of the Lord. We need to be able to understand the written Bible.

Once again, the ministry of Elijah is based on restoring us back to the beliefs of the New Testament that were held by Christians in the first church age.

That is the only criterion by which we can judge him.

If he says anything different to the New Testament then ignore that statement. But where he reveals what the Scripture says on a topic, then listen to him.

His primary ministry is to restore us back to the early church because that is what the prophecy said. His ministry is not dependent on his ability to predict future events. He may or may not do that. But that is a secondary issue.

If he restores us back to the New Testament then God will judge his ministry to have been a success, irrespective of any other mistakes that he may or may not make.

JOHN 1:19

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

:20     And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

:21     And they asked him, What then?

Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

So why did John deny being the Elijah of Malachi 4:5?

Simply because that prophecy referred to two prophets and as such he could not fulfill it all.


Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

:6     And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,


the heart of the children to their fathers,

lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

The Jews did not grasp the mystery that this Elijah had to come twice.

JOHN 1:19

And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

:23     He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

John justified his ministry by quoting the Scripture from Isaiah that referred to himself.

JOHN 5:31

If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

When the Bible speaks of a prophet, then that is a second witness that tells us the true meaning of his ministry. What a prophet says about himself is just one witness. Be careful about that information. But what the Bible says about that prophet is a second witness, and thus what the Bible says is the real truth.

John, who had a remarkable life story in terms of dedication to God as he received the Holy Spirit in his mother’s womb, left no record of his life story.

A prophet’s real ministry does not have to include his life story.

John's ministry was to prepare the way for Jesus. Talking about himself and his interests and opinions on other topics was not his prophetic ministry.

The first Elijah arrived unannounced, from the remote little village of Tishbe, which some claim is in the mountains of Gilead on the other side of Jordan. East of Jordan. Most of us have never heard of Tishbe. So our lack of knowledge of Elijah’s life story has no bearing on his ministry.

Equally unknown is the life story of Elisha. He suddenly appears on the scene and has a powerful ministry that did not depend on our knowledge of his past. We do not know how old Elijah and Elisha were. So whether they had a birth certificate or not was irrelevant to their ministries. Even if they somehow had a wrong date on a birth certificate, that would have been a human blunder, but it would have had no influence on their ministries.

We know of John the Baptist’s birth. The thirty years of John the Baptist’s life before he began preaching is basically unknown. But is not necessary information in order for us to understand his ministry. You and I can grasp the meaning of the ministry of any one of these three men, who each had the spirit of Elijah, without knowing their background.

Lesson -- the spirit of Elijah in a man will perform a certain ministry that is not affected by the facts and figures of his earlier life story, whether they are accurately recalled or whether the facts are confused and wrong. We humans do not have a perfect recall of past events and easily muddle things up. The Scripture simply ignores the life story of each Elijah. We must just move on with what they had to do.

Elijah lost the anointing and ran away from one woman, Jezebel. This was a less than impressive performance since he was the same man, with the anointing, that called down fire to burn up his sacrifice and then slew 450 false prophets of Baal. Did God hold this fearful flight from Jezebel against him? No. God sent a chariot to take him home.

So we must judge Elijah by what he did right, not by what he did wrong.

Do not be in a rush to condemn God’s prophets. God uses them to fulfill a specific ministry. If they mess up on other issues, that just means they are human. John the Baptist was fearless in pointing out Jesus as the Messiah. But later on, when he doubted if Jesus was the Messiah (which was a very serious mistake), Jesus overlooked his error because John has fulfilled the Scriptures that described his ministry. What John had done right in terms of God’s perfect Will that fulfills the Scripture, far outweighed any mistake (however serious) that he had done wrong.

John the Baptist did a lot of preaching that was never recorded.

LUKE 3:18

And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people.

John left no record of all this preaching simply because it was secondary to his main ministry, which was to point out Jesus Christ as a Man walking amongst men. What he had to say on other topics was not rated as important enough to be mentioned in the Bible because that was not the main thrust of his ministry, which was to point out the Messiah.

Jesus judged John the Baptist purely in terms of his ability to fulfill the Scripture that spoke of John.


But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

: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.

:11     Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist:

A prophet is vindicated by his ability to fulfill the Scriptures that are written of him. This is the hidden Spiritual wave of God’s Big Picture (God’s perfect Will) that sweeps unseen through our human history like a spiritual tsunami. Everything else that a prophet does, right or wrong, is just a part of our local, human small picture (which is like a splash in a little puddle) that is of no real consequence to God’s Big Picture.

Two disciples of John left him to follow Jesus

So it is critical that we find out what the Bible prophecy for a prophet’s ministry is and we must only accept what he says when he is fulfilling that Scripture.

We are not compelled to believe what he says when he speaks on other issues.

A prophet is only justified when he fulfills the Scripture that speaks of himself.

You are free to ignore what he says and does when he steps outside those Bible boundaries.

JOHN 1:35

Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples;

:36  And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

:37  And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

This is the final success of John’s ministry.

He pointed out Jesus to his disciples, and some of them followed Jesus.

The disciples who recognized John, but then stayed and followed John, were a disappointment. When John doubted Jesus they also doubted that Jesus was Messiah.  After that episode, where John's quotes contradicted the Word, the followers of John faded off the scene and are never heard of again. Following a prophet was not a good idea.

However, the disciples of John who heard him preach and then followed Jesus (the Word), turned the world upside down, and we still revere their names and actions today.

Andrew was the only disciple of John the Baptist who became one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus. So, if people knew brother Branham well, it is of no advantage to them when it comes to finding the truth.

A prophet is just a signpost to point out Jesus as He walks through the pages of His Word. The quotes of a prophet are only valid if they illuminate and explain the Scripture. Then we must follow what is written in the Bible and we link the Scriptures to prove the doctrine.

But those who can accept the Word in Its fullness,

not me preaching It, because It's the Bible says so.

Those who accept that is free, because they--the Word's already been judged.

JOHN 5:31

If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

JOHN 5:33

Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

JOHN 5:35

He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

The quotes of John the Baptist could not stand on their own. They needed to refer to Jesus in order to have real value.

When Elijah comes again, his quotes will also have no real value on their own.

His quotes will have to reflect in the Scripture and be proven from the Bible before they can be accepted as truth because Jesus is the Word of God.

The prophet John decreased as Jesus increased

John the Baptist said :

JOHN 3:30

He must increase, but I must decrease.

This is true for every prophet.

A prophet points to Christ but then fades when compared to Christ.

The stars shine brightly until the Sun rises, then the stars fade away.

Those who follow the prophet (like the disciples of John) instead of following Christ will lose their vision and doubt and contradict the Word as they cling to their quotes.

Those who heard the prophet preach and are thereby turned to the Bible, and follow the truths of their doctrines from Scripture to Scripture, will have enough Bible light to qualify as wise virgins.

The truth will only be revealed at the end. Only the wise virgins will understand.

So if you cannot understand what is written in the Bible then you are not a wise virgin. Then great Tribulation awaits you.
DANIEL 12:9   And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

:10   Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand;

but the wise shall understand.

The wise virgins have the oil of the Holy Spirit in their lamps to produce light and illuminate the Scriptures so that they can be read with understanding.

JOHN 16:13   Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:

The evidence of the Holy Ghost baptism is our ability to understand the Word of God.

The Wedding Feast of the Lamb beckons the wise virgins. They will eat.

For the rest, there is only the Beast, and they will be eaten.

And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God;
:18   That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.


“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” — 1 Corinthians 16:23