I have been studying the scriptures (Matthew), and have read that Jesus told the apostle “that John the Baptist was Elijah.” I have been in several disputes on the matter of reincarnation with non-believing friends, and yet the Lord has drawn my attention to this. Does this support the reincarnation perspective?
John the Baptist himself denies that he was Elijah. Is it possible that he himself did not realize he was?
As to Jesus’ statement about John the Baptist, doesn’t the angel Gabriel’s message in Luke 1: 11-17 offer the best explanation? This would also be consistent with John’s denial that he was literally the same person as Elijah. There is no more support for reincarnation here than if Yogi Berra were to say “He’s Babe Ruth” on seeing yet another home run from St. Louis slugger Mark McGwire.
But more importantly, the Bible consistently communicates the realities of life, death, accountability to God for choices made, and the finality of eternal destiny. Paul states that when our present body dies, God will give us a new and eternal one and that he prefers to be “absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5: 1, 8). Hebrews 9:27 states “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
While God’s Word is Truth and therefore authoritative, it often won’t be accepted as such by non-believers. The fact that they are your friends, though, puts them in a great position to see your hope and to be drawn to the One Who is the source of it; this (the possibility of personal, eternal relationship with God!) is far more intriguing than experiencing endless repetition of existence with less than concrete hope of improvement!