Reincarnation and Mormonism, Part 3

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Reincarnation & Mormonism

ELIJAH AND JOHN

Many people are very confused about who Elias and Elijah are after reading Joseph’s discourse on the subject. We need to clarify this before proceeding. He talks about three offices: that of Elias, the forerunner, Elijah the builder, and Messiah the teacher He compares the office of Elias to that of Aaron, Elijah to the Melchizedek, and speaks of Messiah as even higher. Joseph also writes of being visited by separate personages named Elias and Elijah.

These statements have received much ridicule from the Anti-Mormons because the name “Elias” is taken from the New Testament and is merely Greek for Elijah. In other words, as the New Testament calls Isaiah “Isaias” and Messiah “Christ” so does it call Elijah “Elias” because it was translated from the Greek and not the Hebrew as was the Old Testament.

Elias and Elijah refer to the same person in the Bible. For instance Luke 4:25, James 5:17, and Romans 11:2 definitely refer to the Old Testament Elijah but call him Elias.

I do not believe that Joseph was ignorant of this, but that he was describing three principles and merely chose the names Elias, Elijah, and Messiah to describe them. He could have called them A, B, and C. An angel that appeared to Joseph was also named Elias, but this was undoubtedly merely the name that Joseph decided to apply to it.

We needed to clarify this to delve into one of the most powerful scriptural witnesses for reincarnation which concern Elijah. Most LDS are familiar with the great prophecy of Elijah: “Behold, I will send you ELIJAH THE PROPHET before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: 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.” Malachi 4:5-6

Church authorities agree with us that this refers to Elijah’s appearance to Joseph Smith, but what few understand is that the scripture had a dual fulfillment. Elijah was also expected before the first coming of the Lord, and did appear in the guise of John the Baptist.

Luke tells us that John fulfilled the prophecy of the first coming of Elijah: “And he (John) shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS TO THE CHILDREN.” Luke 1:17

Concerning John Jesus said: “For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I will send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 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 is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffered violence, and the violent taketh it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, THIS IS ELIAS, which was to come.” Matt 11:10-14

This last line is a poor translation which is corrected in most modern editions such as the Concordant: “And if you are willing to receive HIM, HE IS ELIJAH…”

These scriptures plainly tell us that John the Baptist fulfilled the prophecy of the coming of Elijah the Prophet before the first coming of the Lord. Jesus even identified him as Elijah.

No wonder John was able to go forward in the spirit and power of Elijah. He was Elijah.

Those who do not believe that John was Elijah will quote the scripture where the priests and Levites were sent to John: “And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered. No.” John 1:21

Here it sounds like John denied being Elijah. You couldn’t blame him if he did because such an admission may have caused an early death sentence. On the other hand, Joseph’s inspired version tells a different story:

And this is the record of John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and DENIED NOT THAT HE WAS ELIAS, but confessed, saying, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, saying, HOW THEN ART THOU ELIAS? and he said, I am not that Elias who was to restore all things. And they asked him, saying, Art thou that prophet? and he answered, No.  Inspired Version, John 1:20-22

Here it makes it clear that John knew he was Elijah come again. His answer was clear enough that the priests replied:

“How then art thou Elias?”

During the transfiguration we are told that both Moses and Elias (Elijah) appeared to Jesus, but the Inspired Version adds something rather startling for Mormon eyes. It says:

And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses, OR IN OTHER WORDS, JOHN THE BAPTIST AND MOSES; and they were talking with Jesus.       Mark 9:3

You can’t get amore positive I.D. than that. “in other words” Elijah and John the baptist were one and the same.

After Peter, James, and John witnessed this event they became quite curious about Elijah because the scribes had told them that Elijah had to appear on the earth before the Messiah. The only thing they had seen of Elijah was the vision they had beheld with their Lord so they asked: “Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come (referring to the future), and restore all things. 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. THEN THE DISCIPLES UNDERSTOOD THAT HE SPAKE UNTO THEM OF JOHN THE BAPTIST.” Matt 17:1-13

It’s amazing that everyone doesn’t believe in reincarnation after reading this scripture. Jesus reveals as clear as the spoken or written word can be that John the Baptist was Elijah.

Those who argue that John was merely like Elijah in his mission have no case. For one thing, John’s mission was “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17), completely different from anything Elijah did. Secondly, the prophecies tell us that “Elijah THE PROPHET” would come, not Elijah the symbol.

Modern day revelation puts a seal on the doctrine that John the Baptist was Elijah the Prophet, not Elijah in spirit only. In 1823 Moroni said: “Behold , I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, BY THE HAND OF ELIJAH THE PROPHET, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. D&C 2:1

And who revealed the priesthood to Joseph? All church members commemorate that great date when the priesthood was revealed: On May 15, 1829, as recorded in section thirteen, John the Baptist stood before Joseph and Oliver and revealed the Priesthood. Then he ordained them under his own hands.

Even though John only ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood he was the one that revealed both. At the time of his visitation he explained the function of not only the Aaronic but the Melchizedek Priesthood (DHC 1:39); thus both priesthoods were revealed by John.

After the Priesthood was revealed by John it could not be revealed by anyone else because it was already revealed.

Therefore, the only way the priesthood could have been revealed by “Elijah the prophet” was if John the Baptist and Elijah were the same person.

Copyright by J J Dewey

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