NIV Mark 9:13

But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him."

Did Jesus mean John as a type of Elijah? Why?

4 Answers 4


The OT prophet Elijah is most famous for his "contest of the gods" (1 Kings 18) on Mt Carmel, whereby, he was used of God to turn the hearts of the people back to God.

Another such prophet is predicted in Mal 4:5, 6 -

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and awesome Day of the LORD. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Otherwise, I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

The Jews in Jesus' time were [correctly] expecting such a prophet to arrive before the advent of Messiah. In Matt 11:1-4 - Jesus answers the disciples of John the Baptist and then tells the crowd something very significant in V7-14:

As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swaying in the wind? Otherwise, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? Look, those who wear fine clothing are found in kings’ palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:

‘Behold, I will send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You.’ [quoting Mal 4:5, 6]

Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has risen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subject to violence,f and the violent lay claim to it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.

Thus, Jesus identifies John the Baptist as:

  • The greatest prophet
  • The prophesied prophet who was to come in the spirit and power of Elijah.

In Matt 17:10-13, Jesus confirms this again -

The disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

Jesus replied, “Elijah does indeed come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him whatever they wished. In the same way, the Son of Man will suffer at their hands.”

Then the disciples understood that He was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

The account in Mark 9:11-13 is parallel to the fuller account in Matt 17 quoted above - it is referring to John the Baptist. All this was predicted before John's birth by the angel and recorded in Luke 1:13-17 -

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He shall never take wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb. Many of the sons of Israel he will turn back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Note that the last verse again alludes to the prophecy of Mal 4:5, 6 as noted above.


What does Mark 9:13 mean by stating : "Elijah has come"?

  • In the spirit of Elijah, John the Baptist fulfilled a prophecy in Malachi 3:22-23 [MT] by helping teach & re-establish the foundational Laws of Moses for Israel to follow in preparation for the arrival of God's Word, referenced in Micah 4:1-2 [MT].

Malachi 3:23 [MT]

"Behold, I will send you Elijah The-Prophet before the coming of the-Great and Awesome Day of YHVH" (הִנֵּ֚ה אָֽנֹכִי֙ שֹׁלֵ֣חַ לָכֶ֔ם אֵ֖ת אֵֽלִיָּ֣ה הַנָּבִ֑יא לִפְנֵ֗י בּוֹא י֣וֹם יְהֹוָ֔ה הַגָּד֖וֹל וְהַנּוֹרָֽא)

  • Eliyahu (אֵלִיָּ֨הוּ) Ha-Navii (הַנָּבִ֑יא) / The-Prophet was expected to return to Yerushalem after being taken from Elisha in 2 Kings 2:11 to re-establish the Laws (Torat, תּוֹרַ֖ת) given to Moshe at Mount Horev.

Malachi 3:22 [MT]

Keep in remembrance the teaching of Moshe, My servant-the laws and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. (זִכְר֕וּ תּוֹרַ֖ת מֹשֶׁ֣ה עַבְדִּ֑י אֲשֶׁר֩ צִוִּ֨יתִי אוֹת֚וֹ בְחֹרֵב֙ עַל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל חֻקִּ֖ים וּמִשְׁפָּטִֽים)

What happens after the Laws of Moshe are re-established by Elijah? - Malachi 3:23 [MT] states The "Great and-Awesome Day of YHVH" / Yom YHVH Ha-Gadol ve-Hanora (י֣וֹם יְהֹוָ֔ה הַגָּד֖וֹל וְהַנּוֹרָֽא) occurs. This event refers to the Coming of the Messiah as described in Micah 4:1-2 [MT].

Micah 4:1 [MT]

"And [it] shall be at the end of the days : a mountain [the] House-of YHVH shall be firmly established at the top of the mountains, and it shall be raised above the hills, and peoples shall stream upon it." (וְהָיָ֣ה | בְּאַֽחֲרִ֣ית הַיָּמִ֗ים יִֽ֠הְיֶה הַ֣ר בֵּֽית־יְהֹוָ֚ה נָכוֹן֙ בְּרֹ֣אשׁ הֶֽהָרִ֔ים וְנִשָּׂ֥א ה֖וּא מִגְּבָע֑וֹת וְנָֽהֲר֥וּ עָלָ֖יו עַמִּֽים)

  • Why will people "stream upon Elijah" while Elijah re-establishes the House-of YHVH / Beyt-YHVH (בֵּֽית־יְהֹוָ֚ה)? - To learn God's Ways through His Word and the Law (Torah, תוֹרָ֔ה).

Micah 4:2 [MT]

"And many nations shall go, and they shall say, "Come, let us go up to the Mount-of YHVH and to the House of the God of Yaqov, and let Him teach us of His ways, and we will go in His paths," for out of Zion shall The Torah come forth, and the Word of YHVH from Yerushalem." (וְֽהָֽלְכ֞וּ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֗ים וְאָֽמְרוּ֙ לְכ֣וּ | וְנַֽעֲלֶ֣ה אֶל־הַר־יְהֹוָ֗ה וְאֶל־בֵּית֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יַֽעֲקֹ֔ב וְיוֹרֵ֙נוּ֙ מִדְּרָכָ֔יו וְנֵֽלְכָ֖ה בְּאֹֽרְחֹתָ֑יו כִּ֚י מִצִּיּוֹן֙ תֵּצֵ֣א תוֹרָ֔ה וּדְבַר־יְהֹוָ֖ה מִירֽוּשָׁלִָֽם)

In the spirit of Ezekiel, Yochanan (John) Ha-Matbil (the-Baptist) prepared a clean heart in Yisraelites to be in the presence of God's Word by sprinkling clean water on them. [Ezekiel 36:25-28]


Did Jesus mean John as a type of Elijah?

A strong case can be made that it's the other way around, Elijah is a type of John, particularly from Jesus point of view.


Elijah's work was to reveal the true God to Israel in a time of growing national crisis. Elijah prepared the way for Elisha, who had a double portion of Elijah's spirit and did many more miracles. In this regard, Elijah was a type of John the Baptist, and Elisha, a type of Christ.
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!

Now the questions become. Did Jesus mean Elijah as a type of John? Why?

By placing John in the center, we place Christ in the center as well. The common saying is true: the OT points to the New and John is greater than Elijah.


The explanation is this: not the personality, but the reality of the perfections, is meant—that is to say, the same perfections that were in Elias existed in John the Baptist and were exactly realized in him. Therefore, John the Baptist was the promised Elias. In this case not the essence, but the qualities, are regarded. For example, there was a flower last year, and this year there is also a flower; I say the flower of last year has returned. Now, I do not mean that same flower in its exact individuality has come back; but as this flower has the same qualities as that of last year—as it has the same perfume, delicacy, color and form—I say the flower of last year has returned, and this flower is the former flower. When spring comes, we say last year’s spring has come back because all that was found in last year’s spring exists in this spring. That is why Christ said, “You will see all that happened in the days of the former Prophets.”

In the same way, if we regard the return of the individual, it is another individual; but if we regard the qualities and perfections, the same have returned. Therefore, when Christ said, “This is Elias,” He meant: this person is a manifestation of the bounty, the perfections, the character, the qualities and the virtues of Elias. John the Baptist said, “I am not Elias.” Christ considered the qualities, the perfections, the character and the virtues of both, and John regarded his substance and individuality. It is like this lamp: it was here last night, and tonight it is also lighted, and tomorrow night it will also shine. We say that the lamp of this night is the same light as that of last night, and that it has returned. It refers to the light, and not to the oil, the wick or the holder.

This subject is fully and clearly explained in the Kitáb-i-Íqán. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/kitab-i-iqan/1#271762460

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your answer. Please take the tour (link below) to better understand how this site works. Can you provide any Bible evidence for these assertions? None is provided in the link. Such eastern philosophy does not appear in the Bible.
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 18, 2020 at 19:49
  • Could you please reference the wording you quote That is why Christ said, “You will see all that happened in the days of the former Prophets.”.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 1:39

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