And if you will receive it, this is Elijah, who was to come.
Read Chapter 11
George Leo Haydock
He is Elias Not in person, but in spirit. (Luke i. 17) (Challoner)
John is here styled Elias, not in the same manner as those who taught the transmigration of souls; but the meaning is, that the precursor came in the spirit and virtue of Elias, and had the same fulness of the Holy Spirit. The Baptist is not undeservedly styled Elias, both for the austerity of his life, and for his sufferings. Elias upbraided Achab and Jezabel for their impieties, and was obliged to flee. John blamed the unlawful marriage of Herod and Herodias, and died for his virtue. (St. Jerome in St. Thomas Aquinas)
So John the Baptist is called Elijah, not in accordance with foolish philosophers and certain heretics who introduce the topic of metempsychosis (transmigration of souls) but because, according to other evidence of the gospel, he came in the spirit and goodness of Elijah and had either the same grace or power of the Holy Spirit. The austerity of their life and firm resolve were equally strong in Elijah and in John. Both lived in the desert. The former girded himself with a belt of skins, and the latter had a similar belt. The former was forced to flee because he accused Ahab and Jezebel of the sin of impiety in their lives. John was beheaded because he accused Herod and Herodias of unlawful marriage. There are those who think therefore that John is called Elijah because, just as Elijah would lead the way in the second coming of our Savior (according to Malachi) and would announce that the Judge was coming, so John acted at the first coming and because each was a messenger either of the...
Then He states also another infallible sign, saying, If you will receive it, he is Elias, which was for to come. For I will send you, it is said, Elias the Tishbite, who shall turn the heart of the father to the children. This man then is Elias, if you attend exactly, says He. For I will send, says He, my messenger before Your face.
And well has He said, If you will receive it, to show the absence of force. For I do not constrain, says He. And this He said, as requiring a candid mind, and showing that John is Elias, and Elias John. For both of them received one ministry, and both of them became forerunners. Wherefore neither did He simply say, This is Elias, but, If you are willing to receive it, this is he, that is, if with a candid mind ye give heed to what is going on. And He did not stop even at this.
. If you are willing, He says, to accept it, that is, if you judge the matter with a good disposition of mind, and not spitefully, he is the one whom the prophet Malachi called Elijah who was to come (Malachi 4:5. "And, behold, I will send to you Elijah the Tishbite before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes"). For both the Forerunner and Elijah have the same ministry. The one was the Forerunner of the first coming, while Elijah will be the forerunner of the second coming. Then, showing that it is an enigma that John is Elijah, and requires wisdom to understand it, He says: