Elijah and John the Baptist
in Deuteronomy 18:15-18:
The Lord your God will
raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you
shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the
day of the assembly, saying, "Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord
my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die." And the Lord
said to me: "What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a
Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth,
and He shall speak to them all that I command Him."
All of us desire to
know the future so we can be prepared for it. We want to be in control of our
destinies and not at the mercy of
events. However, some have this desire so strongly that they set themselves up
as channels through which the future is revealed.
Such people have misled
many. Deuteronomy 18, along with chapter 13, warns against such people. Whether
they are called diviners, charmers, spiritists, or channelers, using methods
like reading tea leaves, casting lots, or conducting séances, they are to be
seriously and carefully avoided because there is no godly reality to their
prognostications. Those seeking to know are being misguided, putting themselves
at the mercy of lying demons, or at the very least, imaginative men and women.
At other times, simply
following a church tradition regarding a prophecy can also mislead a person.
This occurs because someone in the past, sincerely believing he understood a
particular prophecy, began preaching his belief, and many in his audience then
believed without the resources to prove the interpretation wrong. Due to
frequent repetition, it came to be accepted as truth.
It is important for us
to understand that prophets were
not merely temporary and occasional expedients God would turn to. They played a
vital and continuing role in Israel, especially in those times before the Word
of God was widely distributed. This is why God makes provision for them within
the law. He shows in many places that those He appoints to the prophetic office
will always preach the keeping of the commandments of God as evidence of the
Source of their inspiration. They will teach the conservation of past truths
even as they break new doctrinal ground.
forth-tell—that is, proclaim a message truthfully, clearly, and authoritatively
to those for whom it is intended—and they will on occasion, but not always,
foretell—that is, predict events before they take place.
It is misleading to
believe these verses in Deuteronomy 18 apply only to Christ. His is undoubtedly
their ultimate application, but the promise and description applies to all
true, God-ordained prophets. Notice some of the identifiers in these verses:
God established the foundational pattern for the prophetic office in Moses
God will raise a prophet up from among the Israeli people.
Later biblical sources show he might be drawn and appointed from any of the
tribes and from any occupation. In other words, he did not have to be a Levite.
He will perform the function of a mediator between God and men (verses 16-18).
He will stand apart from the system already installed. He will not be
antagonistic to the system, but he may be very antagonistic to the sins of
those within the system, especially the leadership.
God will directly appoint and separate him for his office. Thus, the thrust of
his service as God's representative is direct and authoritative. By contrast,
the priest's function flowed from man to God by means of sacrifice—far less
direct and more appealing and pleading than demanding. The New Testament
ministry combines elements of both, but parallels the prophet's function more
than the priest's.
Simply and broadly, a
prophet is one who is given a message by another of greater authority and
speaks for him to those for whom the message is intended. Thus, Moses was God's
prophet, but Aaron was Moses' prophet.
Without a doubt, when
we hear the word "prophet," we immediately think of the Old Testament.
This is a natural reaction because that is where most of them appear in the
Bible. Our memory instantaneously brings forth names like Moses, Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and David—all great men. However, without a doubt, the two
greatest prophets of all time appear in the New Testament: John the Baptist
and Jesus Christ.
John the Baptist is the last and greatest under the Old Covenant, and Jesus
Christ is the first and greatest of the New.
One will quickly
concede the name of Jesus Christ, but John the Baptist? Compared to the other
great Old Testament prophets, the Bible says hardly anything about him! Yet, in
the judgment of the greatest One of all, John the Baptist is greater!
In Matthew 11:7-11, Jesus says of John the Baptist:
What did you go out
into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out
to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing
are in kings' houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to
you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written: "Behold,
I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before
You." Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not
risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is
greater than he.
Despite the greatness
of the Old Testament prophets that filters through the record of their deeds,
Jesus declares that none was greater than His cousin, John. In fact, several
commentaries contend that Jesus' statement literally means that John was the
greatest of all men, not just the greatest prophet! When we consider the
greatness of the other prophets, we must marvel at how great this man was! Yet
we know so little of him.
The Greek literally
says He was much more than a prophet. Part of the reason for
this is that John fulfilled the prophecy given in Malachi 3:1.
No other prophet, aside from Jesus Christ, was ever the fulfillment of a
distinct prophecy—and such an important prophecy on top of that! There may be a
great deal more to John than we ever considered.
Luke 1:5-7, 15-17 records some
features of John's birth:
There was in the days
of Herod, the king of Judea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the division of
Abijah. His wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And
they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and
ordinances of the Lord blameless. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was
barren, and they were both well advanced in years. . . . [The angel said to
Zacharias,] "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall
drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit,
even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to
the Lord their God. He will also 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 a people prepared for the Lord."
God miraculously caused
John's conception and birth, even as He did Isaac's and Jesus'. Jesus'
conception in a virgin woman without the involvement of a human male is an
exception. Isaac and
John's conceptions were normally produced except that Sarah and Elizabeth were
beyond childbearing age.
John appears in each of
the four gospels, and in each case, his story is subordinated to that of Jesus.
This is as it should be, yet John was quite effective in what he did in
preparing the way before the Christ. Even Josephus writes about him. Though
Josephus pens only a vague few sentences about Christ, he devotes an
intriguing, longer paragraph to John. By putting together what Josephus records
with what the Bible provides, we get a picture of a vigorous man of God who was
turning the small nation of Judea on its spiritual ear.
Judeans had no radio or
television, but knowledge of him spread quickly by word of mouth. His ministry
appears to have been short, perhaps about the same length as the three and a
half years allotted to Jesus. Some authorities feel John's ministry may have
only been one year long. If so, he must have been an electrifying speaker!
However long he preached, most of it occurred before Christ began His ministry.
Mark 1:1-8 gives these
The beginning of the
gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets:
"Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way
before You." "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the
way of the Lord, make His paths straight.'" John came baptizing in the
wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for
the remission of sins. And all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem,
went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing
their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt
around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying,
"There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am
not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He
will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
In his dress and diet,
he was distinctive from what was normal for the times. His dress was durable
and serviceable—what would normally be associated with the clothing of the
poorest of the land. The same is true of his diet. His diet would be unusual
for us but common for the poor folk of his time.
Regarding how he
lived, Luke 1:80 adds, "So the child grew and
became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his
manifestation to Israel." Mark 2:18 shows that he and his disciples
lived an ascetic lifestyle. Taken together, these verses indicate that despite
John's greatness, God kept him a poor man. People who live their entire lives
in the desert do not usually become rich. His home, though undoubtedly not a
hovel, was certainly nowhere near what we are familiar with in wealthy, modern
Israel. From this we can learn that God does not owe us what we would like to
have, but He provides what we need to serve His purpose for us.
We can be assured that
since he had God's Spirit from birth, as Luke 1:15 states,
he was in no way the almost wild man he is usually perceived as in movies. Paul
says in II Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a
spirit of fear, but of power and of love and
of a sound mind."
Also note that, though
John was of the Aaronic line from both parents, no direct connection is ever
made between him and the already installed system of Temple worship.
Mark 1:1 says, "The
beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." The Bible
positions John's ministry as the starting point of Christ's gospel, not because
John literally preached the gospel, but apparently because of his preparatory
work to Jesus preaching it. Verse 5 records, "And all the land of Judea,
and those from Jerusalem went out to him and were all baptized by him in the
Jordan River, confessing their sins." This reveals the impact of his
ministry: All Judea, including folk from Jerusalem, went out to hear and be
baptized by him, believing he was a prophet. While "all" does not
mean every last person, it indicates a sizeable majority of the population was
conversant about John and his message.
Mark 11:32 provides insight
as to how the people perceived him: "[T]hey [the chief priests, the
scribes, and the elders] feared the people, for all counted John to have been a
prophet indeed." Clearly, the common people considered John a prophet, and
indeed, he was. This also shows that the highest Jewish authorities were fully
aware of his reputation as a prophet and feared it. We can begin to see that in
many respects the magnitude of John's work was similar to Jesus'.
Mark 1:9-11 speaks of Jesus
and John's first recorded contact:
It came to pass in those
days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the
Jordan. And immediately, coming from the water, He saw the heavens parting and
the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven,
"You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
The "all" of
verse 5 includes Jesus both as believing his message and being baptized of him.
God at this time fully revealed to John who the Messiah was. However, verses
7-8 make it plain that, before baptizing Jesus, he already knew he was
preceding someone. The prophecy given to his father Zacharias (Luke 1:76)
had undoubtedly been communicated to him.
Despite the fact that
he was no wild man, he was radically alienated from those who were part of the
system God had installed during the time of David a
thousand years earlier, reestablished under Hezekiah and Josiah,
and then later still reinstituted under Ezra following the Jews' return from
As mentioned earlier,
the prophets tended to operate outside the priestly system established by God.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the lives of John, Jeremiah, and
Amos. Jeremiah 15:17 records the prophet's complaint
about his solitude: "I did not sit in the assembly of the mockers, nor did
I rejoice; I sat alone because of Your hand, for You have filled me with
indignation." Amos provides us with his experience when receiving God's
calling: "Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah: 'I was no prophet, nor
was I a son of a prophet, but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit.
Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock, and the Lord said to me,
"Go, prophesy to My people Israel"'" (Amos 7:14-15).
John's separation from
the system is clearly noticeable in Matthew 3:7-10:
But when he saw many of
the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said them, "Brood of
vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits
worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as
our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham
from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into
Notice that his
scathing attack is against both the Pharisees and Sadducees: The Pharisees had
public power because they tended to be successful people in private life. In
spite of this, they also had the admiration of the people. The Sadducees were
largely from the priesthood and
thus controlled the Temple. Consequently, they pretty much controlled the
religious life of the people. Yet, because they also tended to be wealthy but
haughty in disposition, the feelings of the people were prejudiced against
confronts the establishment's leadership. His was an unpopular message of
judgment aimed directly at the powerful, and they did not take kindly to what
he said. "And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors
justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees
and lawyers rejected the counsel of God for themselves, not having been
baptized by him" (Luke 7:29-30).
Matthew 21:32 confirms John's
rejection when Jesus speaks to the chief priests and elders at the Temple:
"For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe
him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did
not afterward relent and believe him." The powerful knew John was speaking
about them, so in disdainful anger, they rejected him, while the publicans and
harlots accepted his teaching.
His most powerful foe
was Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee. Herod and John had an interesting
relationship because Herod respected John, yet at the same time he feared what
he perceived to be John's growing political power because of the prophet's
Josephus provides a bit
of background the Bible lacks. Herod was married to the daughter of Aretas,
king of Petra. However, before John became a popular figure, Herod divorced her
and married his sister-in-law, Herodias. This caused a problem, as Herodias was
already married to Herod's brother, Philip. At this point, a convergence takes
place between John's rising influence with the people and Herod and Herodias'
adulterous and incestuous marriage, which clearly violates the sexual purity
laws in Leviticus 18.
Mark 6:17-20 explains:
For Herod himself had
sent and laid hold of John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias,
his brother Philip's wife; for he had married her. For John had said to Herod,
"It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." Therefore
Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not; for
Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man, and he protected
him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.
Josephus writes that
Herod took John prisoner because he feared the prophet's prominence, believing
that rebellion against his rule was growing in response to John's preaching.
Apparently, during John's captivity, he warned Herod that he and Herodias were
in an adulterous relationship.
This made Herodias boil
with anger. Verses 21-27 add:
Then an opportune day
came when Herod on his birthday gave a feast for his nobles, the high officers,
and the chief men of Galilee. And when Herodias' daughter herself came in and
danced, and pleased Herod and those who sat with him, the king said to the
girl, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you," He also
swore to her, Whatever you ask of me, I will give you, up to half my
kingdom." So she went out and said to her mother, "What shall I
ask?" And she said, "The head of John the Baptist!" Immediately
she came in with haste to the king and asked, saying, "I want you to give
me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter." And the king was
exceedingly sorry; yet, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with
him, he did not want to refuse her. And immediately the king sent an
executioner and commanded his head to be brought. And he went and beheaded him
Thus, when a convenient
occasion presented itself, she took her revenge, getting away with John's murder because
of Herod's foolish timidity. Subsequently, Aretas came against Herod in war,
seeking revenge for Herod divorcing his daughter. Josephus writes that Aretas
soundly defeated Herod's forces. The people of Judea concluded that Herod's
defeat was God's punishment for taking John's life.
More on John's
Luke gives the most
comprehensive account of John's birth. Luke 1:5-25 covers the announcement of John's
birth to his father Zechariah, and verses 68-79 record Zechariah's hymn of
praise to God for John. However, verses 76-79 comprise a prophecy devoted
without qualification to John and his work:
And you, child, will be
called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord
to prepare His ways, to give knowledge ofsalvation to
His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God,
with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those
who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of
From the very
beginning, John and Jesus are allied in the salvation scheme. However, the
Bible shows in interesting ways how John is subordinate to Jesus. For instance,
in Luke 1:36, Mary and Elizabeth are shown to be
related, probably cousins. Both women conceive in a miraculous way, but Mary's
conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit is far more miraculous. Then, when
Elizabeth greets Mary (Luke 1:39-41), John, while still in her womb, leaps
for joy in
the presence of our Lord in His mother's womb. Finally, Luke 1:76 shows
John to be only a prophet, but verses 32-35 show Jesus to be the Son of God and
Heir to the throne of David.
The apostle John
subordinates John the Baptist to Jesus in John 1:6-9:
There was a man sent
from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of
the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was
sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light
to every man who comes into the world.
To appreciate this
subordination of John, we must relate what is said here to the cultural
environment in which these books were written. We must consider what the
apostles wrote from the perspective of first-century Jews who witnessed John
the Baptist's ministry.
In the twentieth
century, we tend to think that John's ministry was little more than a blip on a
radar screen. However, in terms of impact and importance, there was no true
ministry greater than his except Jesus'. Thinking that John's ministry was
insignificant flirts with diminishing what Jesus says about none born of a woman being
greater than John.
In God's own
estimation, recorded in Luke 1:15—the very first thing said about him by
the angel speaking for God—John would be great! He was the prophesied messenger
who fulfilled Isaiah 40:3, "The voice of one crying in the
wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway
for our God'" (see Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3;Luke 1:76; 3:4; John 1:23). He also fulfilled Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I send My messenger, and
he will prepare the way before Me" (see Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:76;7:27).
His greatness lay:
in the office he filled;
in the subject he dealt with (repentance and true knowledge of the Messiah);
in his humility in calling no attention to himself and voluntarily receding
into the background when the Messiah appeared (John 3:30), as well as his great zeal in
performing his function;
in his personal attributes of character, above reproach in terms of sin;
in his self-denial in terms of his manner of life;
in his courage in the face of opposition;
in his lifelong service to God.
John was the crown of a
long line of Old Testament prophets.
John Is the Elijah
The angel tells
Zacharias before John's birth, "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 a people prepared for the
Lord" (Luke 1:17).
"In the spirit and power of Elijah" indicates he resembled Elijah in
doing a similar work of revealing the true God through a ministry devoted to
preaching repentance and the certainty of things contained in the Scriptures
regarding Christ. Perhaps it also includes working with a similar zeal, though
he accomplished his function without miracles (John 10:41). Obviously, God does not measure a
man's greatness by the miracles he does.
On two separate
occasions, in Matthew 11:13-15 and
again in Matthew 17:10-13,
Jesus says John is the Elijah to come. Notice first Matthew 11:13-15: "For all the prophets and the law
prophesied until John. And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who
is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Let him who has ears,
listen! Jesus wants His audience to pay the utmost attention. To what? To the
fact that John is the Elijah to come! He had fulfilled Malachi 4:5-6.
Notice, too, Jesus'
introductory comment in verse 14, "And if you are willing to receive it. .
. ." This strongly suggests that He was about to say something different
than what His listeners expected. They supposed Elijah would appear in person!
This explains why, when John was asked by the delegation from Jerusalem whether
he was Elijah, he replied, "I am not" (John 1:21). Though he was Elijah in spirit and
power, he was not the literal Elijah they were expecting. The Jews of Jesus'
day were just as wrong about Elijah as are many today who are looking for
another Elijah to appear before Jesus' second coming.
Yet, Jesus gives no indication that anyone will follow John in that office.
Matthew 17:10-13 is the second
occasion Jesus declared John as Elijah. Again, He gives no indication that He
expected yet another Elijah to appear.
And His disciples asked
Him, saying, "Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come
first?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Indeed, Elijah truly is
coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come
already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished.
Likewise the Son of Man is also about to suffer at their hands." Then the
disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.
This is Jesus'
commentary on Malachi 4:5-6.
He is neither indicating there will be another Elijah to come, nor
contradicting what He said earlier in Matthew 11. In verse 11, He speaks in a
future sense because that is how Malachi 4:5-6 is
written. He also did it to emphasize that the scribes had correctly interpreted
the prophecy in terms of Elijah preceding the arrival of the Messiah.
Jesus begins the next
sentence of His reply with "but," an adversative conjunction
indicating disagreement. But means "on the
contrary," "conversely," or "however," and it is used
here to indicate an exception. Jesus makes it clear He did not agree with the
scribes beyond the point that they had correctly taught Elijah must come first.
He clarifies further by saying that the scribes did not recognize Elijah when
he came and badly mistreated him. Matthew 17:13 clearly establishes that the
disciples understood He meant that John was the Elijah of Malachi 4:5-6.
In other words, Jesus is saying Malachi 4:5-6 has
already occurred—the greatest of the Old Testament prophets already fulfilled
"restore all things"? Does it refer to doctrine?
Not specifically. It is a very general statement. The Greek word means "to
put back again," "to reorganize," "to set up,"
"to bring back," "to reclaim." It can refer to health,
authority, or government—or, for that matter, to straightening out or bringing
back true conceptions about the Messiah. What did the original Elijah do? He
straightened out—restored—right conceptions about who God is because the
Israelites had lost sight of Him.
Who says "restore
all things?" Jesus does. This is mentioned in no other place in reference
to John the Baptist or Elijah. The Bible's marginal references refer us
to Luke 1:17 and Malachi 4:6 where nothing is said directly
about either Elijah or John restoring all things. Remember, this is Jesus'
commentary on what John did. Even as Elijah restored right conceptions about
God in his day, John the Baptist restored right conceptions about the Messiah,
God with us.
That is not all. John,
the Elijah of Malachi 4:5-6, turned the hearts of the fathers to
the children and the children to the fathers. Logic demands this refer to his
preaching as having a positive impact upon family life. Turning hearts is a
fruit, an effect, that happens alongside preparing a people to receive the
Malachi 2:14-15 reveals that in
Malachi's day the Jewish community was having serious marriage problems:
Yet you say, "For
what reason?" Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife
of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your
companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a
remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take
heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his
Family problems were
extant, and they continued among the Jews down to John's day.
Secondly, this cannot
refer to "the Fathers" in terms of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacobbecause they were dead, and when they died, their
thoughts perished. Their hearts cannot turn to the children. What John restored
in anticipation of the Messiah's coming were right conceptions about Him, and
his preaching of repentance led to right relationships within human families
and within the Family of God.
What is lacking in the
Bible by God's express design is a detailed review of all John preached. We
know only that he was very effective in what he did. We do not know all that he
restored, but we can understand that he restored everything necessary for the
Messiah to be recognized and received. To take "restore all things"
beyond the scope of what was prophesied to be the extent of John's ministry is
getting into the area of fanciful interpretations because Jesus confirms both
that John was the Elijah to come and that his ministry was great. Who can argue
What about the phrase
in Malachi 4:5, "before the coming of the great
and dreadful day of the Lord"?
This lures people into interpreting this as occurring just before Christ's
second coming. However, the verse does not say "immediately
before"—that is an assumption—it only says "before." The apostle
John writes that the world was
passing away in his day 2,000 years ago (I John 2:17)! In terms of time, verse 18 is even
more incredible because John says that by biblical reckoning it was already the
last hour(Romans 13:11-12; I Peter 4:7)! It is imperative we learn to consider
time as God does rather than men.
The last days began
with the arrival of Jesus Christ. John the Baptist, the prophesied Elijah,
appeared as one epoch ended and the next began. He was the last and greatest of
the Old Testament prophets, his preaching turned the hearts of the fathers to
the children, and he prepared the way for the Messiah. He most certainly came
before the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Only one commentary
delved into the possibility of a "second" Elijah. Even as it did so,
it claimed the concept was weak since Jesus made His case so clearly. Matthew 16:18, often used to support this concept,
does not say quite what we assume it does. In it, Jesus proclaims, "And I
also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,
and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Does this say the
church will never die out? Yes, but only indirectly.
The translation of one
word, "prevail," alters the focus of what Jesus says. It could also
be rendered "stand." By choosing to translate the word as
"prevail," it changes the church from being on the offensive against
the kingdom of Satan,
represented by the word "Hades," to being on the defensive, as
continually under attack.
Jesus is promising that
He would enable His church to be on the offensive and triumphant against Satan
and death. Is the church constantly under attack? Of course it is, and there
have been several times that, as far as we know, it has almost died out, but it
has always emerged triumphant and continued on.
How was this
accomplished? Jesus Christ would raise up a man to preach the gospel once
again. Peter Waldo is one of the clearer examples. In the process, he became
the one God used to call others into His truth,
and around him, He formed a continuation of the church of God. The commentary
remarked that, using this interpretation, even the first-century apostles, as
they took the gospel into new areas, became weak types of Elijah—as did all the
men God used down through the ages, like Peter Waldo.
Each of them, in type,
had to reestablish things and preach repentance in preparation for the
receiving of the gospel and the Messiah. But not a single one of them was the
Elijah to come because that office and prophecy—by Jesus' own words—has already
been fulfilled, and there is no higher authority.