Question from Sharon Schultz on 2/18/2008:
I have a friend who has been told that John the Baptist is really Elijah who came back. Will you please explain this to me if it is true. Thank you and God bless Sharon Schultz
Answer by Fr. John Echert on 2/18/2008:
There were Old Testament prophecies and expectations that the prophet Elijah would return prior to the coming of the Messiah, to prepare the way. In the sense that John the Baptist fulfilled this role initially, for the first coming of Christ, he was Elijah (spiritually but not physically). However, we still expect the return of Elijah prior the second coming of the Messiah, at the end of time. Elijah did not die, as recorded in the Old Testament (he was taken into the heavens on a chariot) and so he still has a role to play, to win souls for Christ, just prior to the end times.