Was John the Baptist really Elijah

Question: In Matt 11.14, 17.3, 11, 12 our Lord clearly affirms that John the Baptist was Elijah. However, in John 1:21, 25 John says he was not Elijah. So is there a contradiction?
Was John Elijah or not ?

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For clarification are these the ones you referenced?

He was not literally Elijah but came in the Spirit power and authority of Elijah. He came to prepare hearts for Jesus.

And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Matthew 11:14‭-‬15 NKJV

Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
Matthew 17:1‭-‬4 NKJV

This passage is a literal encounter with Moses who represented the law.
And Elijah who represented the prophets of old.

I have always been taught to see context in scripture always read at least 10 verses before and after. It has helped me to see literal, or figurative expression.



@Arpith It’s important to understand that John the Baptist was not literally Elijah - they were not the same person. Rather, John the Baptist came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ - he was ‘like’ Elijah in the sense that he fulfilled a powerful prophetic ministry that was foretold by the Old Testament.

Also, Matthew 17:3 actual does refer to the real Elijah, but the following verses in 11/12 refer to John the Baptist, who came in the “spirit and power” of Elijah.

Matthew 11:13-14 - For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.

I will send you Elijah the prophet . In light of the ascension of Elijah to heaven without dying (2 Kgs 2:11), Judaism has always awaited his return as an aspect of the messianic age (see, e.g., John 1:19-28). Jesus identified John the Baptist as Elijah, because he came in the “spirit and power” of his prototype Elijah (Matt 11:14; 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36).