11 And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? 12 And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. 13 But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.
Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
Referring to the birth of John the Baptist.
Luke 1:17 And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, 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.
Matthew 11:7 ¶ And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. 9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 11 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. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. 14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. 15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
John the Baptist was Elijah (Elias) in type. By coming in the spirit and power of Elijah it is not saying that there is such a thing as reincarnation. People live only once in the flesh.
Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
But, remember, Elijah didn’t die as other men.
2Kings 2:1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal…..11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
Clearly, Elijah’s power and spirit could be given to this most remarkable, this last of the Old Testament prophets; John the Baptist, who paved the way for the Lord Jesus Christ’s appearance. Elijah and John the Baptist were very similar in the disposition and temper, their manner of dress, their crude and austere way of life, and their preaching about sin and repentance.
As Moses and Elijah were both present at the Mount of Transfiguration it is likely that they will be Christ’s Two Witnesses in Jerusalem at the end.
Revelation 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. The question that might be asked is if Moses and Elijah are the two anointed ones that stand by the Lord of the whole earth?
Zechariah 4:11 ¶ Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? 12 And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? 13 And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. 14 Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
Now, go back to Malachi 4:5. If John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah and Elijah and Moses appear at the Mount of Transfiguration, and just suppose that they are the two anointed ones of the Lord and that they will be the two witnesses at the end, understanding that reading these prophecies and accounts in this way gives context to these difficult passages. So, by reading and interpreting this way instead of taking a verse out of the Bible as a separate unit we give continuity to Biblical prophecy and quit trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak.
In this way, a phrase or a prophecy in the Bible does not exist independently of the rest of the Bible as God’s hand is in the writing, copying, and translations of the Bible throughout and there is unity in His declarations. Unfortunately, only one out of ten commentators see it this way. Many of them take verses or prophecies as separate units for understanding and thus give the Bible less cohesion and unity.
So, Elijah and Moses appeared at the first coming of Christ as they will appear at the second. They will be witnesses for Him at the end as John the Baptist was at the beginning, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah.