Question from Leah:
When people in the Bible thought John the Baptist was Elijah does that mean people in the Bible believed in reincarnation? Or does it indicate that God may let souls who have passed come back for a specific purpose. I do know the Bible tells us NOT to try to contact the dead.
Answer from Pastor Bob:
Hebrews 9:27 says we die once and then go to judgment, which does not allow for reincarnation. So what was going on with John the Baptist when Matthew 11:14 says he was Elijah who was to come?
1) Elijah himself never died, but was taken up to heaven, according to 2 Kings 2:11 he went to heaven in a whirlwind.
2) Elijah himself appeared with Jesus in the transfiguration (Matthew 17:3), so Elijah was not reincarnated as someone else.
3) Luke 1:17 explains that John came "in the spirit and power of Elijah," not a literal reincarnation.
So John was not a "reincarnation" of Elijah, but he was a repeat of the spirit and power of Elijah, that is, he carried on a similar ministry, just as Billy Graham was the most famous evangelical preacher in America years ago, and today Rick Warren is the most famous evangelical preacher in America.