Are Elijah and John the Baptist the same person? (Matt 17:9-13)
The discussion about Elijah in Matthew 17:9-13 follows immediately after the apostles saw Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah. They obviously recognized Elijah. This led to the discussion of Malachi 4 and the part of the Passover Seder where a chair is left at the table for Elijah. Jesus says that Elijah had already come. The disciples understood that he was talking about John. They had just seen Elijah, but understood that John was Elijah. Clearly, then, they realized that it was a spiritual or figurative sameness. John came in the spirit of Elijah. A prophet like Elijah was to come before the Messiah. This was their understanding. I donít believe they thought John was literally Elijah because they had just seen Elijah separate from John.