Tom made a post referencing an article by Ernest Valea refuting the idea that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah. The Biblical evidence is quite overwhelming so this is a difficult task. First let me give a couple scriptures that positively identify John the Baptist as Elijah come again.
The disciples were curious about the prophesy of Elijah coming again so they asked the Lord:
"Why then do our teachers say that Elijah must come first? He replied, Yes Elijah WILL COME and set everything right. But I tell you that ELIJAH HAS ALREADY COME, and they failed to recognize him, and worked their will upon him; and in the same way the Son of Man is to suffer at their hands. Then the disciples understood that HE MEANT JOHN THE BAPTIST." (Matthew 17:10-13 - New English)
Here is a second powerful statement from Jesus:
"...Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John...A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he of whom it is written, Behold I send my messenger before my face, which shall prepare thy way before thee (This is a quote from Malachi near the prophesy of Elijah) Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven (Christ) is greater than he...For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, THIS IS ELIJAH, which was for to come." (Matthew 11:7, 9-11, 13-14)
The Concordant version says it most accurately: "And if you are willing to receive HIM, HE IS ELIJAH..."
Now Mr. Valea tries to refute this idea with this scripture from, Luke:
"And he shall 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)
Then he says:
"First we must be aware that the Jews viewed 'spirit' and 'soul' as quite different things. The human person has a soul which will live on after physical death. The spirit is a kind of driving force, a motivation that makes people behave in one way or another."
It is possible there is some Jewish teaching of this nature but this proves nothing. The words "spirit" and "soul" in the Bible are often mistranslated so one has to look up the original Greek or Hebrew word to discover what the author really meant.
The word "spirit" from Luke 1:17 comes from the Greek PNEUMA and it does not refer to personality or driving force as Mr. Valea suggests. For proof we just have to look at actual samples of the scriptures where the word was used.
"Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits (PNEUMA) are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven." (Luke 10:20)
"And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit (PNEUMA)" (Luke 23:46)
"When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (PNEUMA)" (John 19:30)
"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit (PNEUMA)." (Acts 7:59)
It is obvious that when the Greek PNEUMA is used it is not referring to something ephemeral such as drive or personality, but the actual spirit that lives on.
Now taking this into account we can see a totally different meaning to Luke 1:17 than did Mr. Valea. Let us look at it again:
"And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah..."
Note the word "power" comes from DYNAMIS which means "ability" as well as "strength." "Spirit" comes from PNEUMA which is the eternal spirit that lives on. As it turns out this scripture does not refute reincarnation, but proves it. What is it really saying?
It is saying that John will go forth with the same spirit that Elijah had with the same powers and ability because he is Elijah come again. If he has the actual spirit of Elijah then he must be Elijah.
People say 'It's as plain as the nose on your face.' But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds up a mirror for you?
Isaac Asimov (1920 - 1992), I, Robot
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