Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Not the Tishbite, as the Septuagint version wrongly inserts instead of prophet; not Elijah in person, who lived in the times of Ahab; but John the Baptist, who was to come in the power and spirit of Elijah, ( Luke 1:17 ) between whom there was a great likeness in their temper and disposition; in their manner of clothing, and austere way of living; in their courage and integrity in reproving vice; and in their zeal and usefulness in the cause of God and true religion; and in their famous piety and holiness of life; and in being both prophets; see ( Matthew 11:11 ) ( 14:5 ) and that he is intended is clear from ( Matthew 17:10-13 ) ( Mark 9:12 Mark 9:13 ) . It is a notion of the Jews, as Kimchi and others, that the very Elijah, the same that lived in the days of Ahab, shall come in person before the coming of their Messiah they vainly expect, and often speak of difficult things to be left till Elijah comes and solves them; but for such a notion there is no foundation, either in this text or elsewhere. And as groundless is that of some of the ancient Christian fathers, and of the Papists, as Lyra and others, that Elijah with Enoch will come before the day of judgment, and restore the church of God ruined by antichrist, which they suppose is meant in the next clause. Before the coming of the great and, dreadful day of the Lord;
that is, before the coming of Christ the son of David, as the Jews F18 themselves own; and which is to be understood, not of the second coming of Christ to judgment, though that is sometimes called the great day, and will be dreadful to Christless sinners; but of the first coming of Christ, reaching to the destruction of Jerusalem: John the Baptist, his forerunner, the Elijah here spoken of, came proclaiming wrath and terror to impenitent sinners; Christ foretold and denounced ruin and destruction to the Jewish nation, city, and temple; and the time of Jerusalem's destruction was a dreadful day indeed, such a time of affliction as had not been from the creation, ( Matthew 24:21 ) and the Talmud interprets F19 this of the sorrows of the Messiah, or which shall be in the days of the Messiah.
F18 T. Bab. Eruvin, fol. 43. 2. & Gloss. in ib.
F19 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol 118. 1.