And Jesus answered and said unto them
By way of concession,
Elias truly shall first come:
this is indeed a tenet of the Scribes, and it is also certain, that there is a prophecy in ( Malachi 4:5 ) of the coming of Elias; of one that goes under that name, not of Elias the Tishbite, in person, but of one that was to come in his power and spirit,
and restore all things.
The Syriac and Persic versions render it, "shall perfect, or complete all things", that are prophesied of him; and shall put a period to the law and the prophets, and close the Mosaic economy, and direct persons to Christ; in whom are the perfection of the law, and the fulfilling of the prophets. The Arabic version reads it, "he shall teach you all things"; the whole of the Gospel being to be reduced to these two heads, repentance towards God, and faith in Christ; both which were taught by the true Elias: but the truest sense of the phrase is to be learned out of ( Malachi 4:6 ) . "He shall restore, (byvh) , he shall turn all things, the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers"; and as this is explained in ( Luke 1:17 ) "he shall turn the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, and make ready a people prepared for the Lord": which is other, and better sort of work, than what the Jews assign to their Elias, whom they expect, and whom they make to be a restorer of all things, in their way: they often speak of his purifying F17 of things, or pronouncing things pure, that were defiled; and among others, that he will purify bastards, and (Mbyvy) , "restore them" to the congregation of the Lord F18. Though Maimonides F19 denies, that when he comes he will pronounce defiled that which is pure, or pronounce pure, that which is defiled. They pretend F20, that he is now employed, and very busy, in writing everything that is done in every age; so that when he comes, he will be able to give an account of everything: and nothing is more common with them, than to say concerning any matter, that there is any doubt or difficulty about it F21, (whyla) (abyv de xnwm ahy) , "let it be left till Elias comes".
F17 T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 25. 1. & Becorot, fol. 33. 2. & 34. 1.
F18 Kimchi in Zech. ix. 6.
F19 Hilchot Melacim, c. 12. sect. 2. Vid. Misn. Ediot, c. 8. sect. 7. & Maimon & Bartenora in ib.
F20 Seder Olam Rabba, p 46.
F21 Misn. Bava Metzia, c. 1. sect. 8. T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 3. 1. & 37. 1. & Bava Bathra, fol. 94. 1.