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Elijah: What did Jesus say about Elijah

Jesus spoke about Elijah in several contexts within the Gospels, acknowledging Elijah’s significant role in the history of Israel as a prophet and his symbolic return in the figure of John the Baptist, which was a fulfillment of prophecy and a herald of the Messiah’s arrival. Here are some pertinent Bible verses and the main takeaways:

Bible Verses

  1. Matthew 11:14 (ESV): “And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.”
  2. Matthew 17:10-13 (ESV): “And the disciples asked him, ‘Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?’ He replied, ‘Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.”
  3. Mark 9:11-13 (ESV): “And they asked him, ‘Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?’ And he said to them, ‘Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.'”

Three Main Takeaways

  1. Elijah’s Prophetic Role and Return: Jesus affirms the expectation of Elijah’s return as prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6, not in a literal sense but fulfilled through John the Baptist’s ministry. This emphasizes the continuity between the Old and New Testaments and the fulfillment of prophetic tradition in Jesus’ time.
  2. Recognition and Rejection: Jesus highlights the failure of the people and religious leaders to recognize Elijah’s return in the person of John the Baptist, paralleling their rejection of John with the suffering and rejection Jesus Himself would face. This teaches about the challenge of spiritual blindness and the cost of true discipleship.
  3. Preparation for the Messiah: Elijah’s expected role and John the Baptist’s actual role were to prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus’ reference to Elijah and identification of John as fulfilling Elijah’s role underlines the significance of repentance and readiness for the coming kingdom of God. It underscores the importance of heeding God’s messengers and being prepared for Jesus’ message and ministry.

Through these discussions about Elijah, Jesus not only confirms the prophetic traditions of Israel but also illustrates the kingdom of God’s nearness, calling for recognition, repentance, and readiness among His followers.


  • Greg Gaines

    Father / Grandfather / Minister / Missionary / Deacon / Elder / Author / Digital Missionary / Foster Parents / Welcome to our Family

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