Has this statement of Jesus ever bothered you:
Matthew 17:11 â€” Jesus answered and said to them, â€œIndeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things.
Mark 9:12 â€” Then He answered and told them, â€œIndeed, Elijah is coming first and restores all things. And how is it written concerning the Son of Man, that He must suffer many things and be treated with contempt?
Compare that to this verse about the nature of the time of Jesus return:
Acts 3:21 â€” whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Who really restores all things, Elijah or Jesus? According to many prophecies about the Millennium, we know that Jesus will himself do this at his coming. If Elijah does the same thing first then there is nothing left for Jesus to restore of course. So this is a problem. To solve it, some doubt that Jesus really meant Elijah, but instead perhaps was referring to himself in some mystic way. Myself, I always hesitate to say the Bible should be spiritualized that far (i.e., â€œElijahâ€ is not Elijah but a reference to himself, Jesus). The solution in difficult cases like this usually turns up after carefully looking at multiple Bible version since the Greek NT we have is not perfect but a patchwork of many incomplete fragments subjectively pieced together by each translator.
In this case, I looked and found that the Aramaic for these passages says something different than â€œrestore all thingsâ€:
Matthew 17:11 (Lamsa) â€” Jesus answered and said to them, Elijah will come first, so that everything might be fulfilled.
Mark 9:12 (Lamsa) â€” He said to them, Elijah does come first, to prepare everything; and as it is written concerning the Son of man, that he will suffer much and be rejected.
Thatâ€™s makes more sense doenâ€™t it? As I state in my About page, if you always accept that the Bible means what it (originally) says, a good answer will present itself without resorting to spiritualizing the text away from its face value meanings (plural because as we saw in this case, there are often more than one possible face readings because of the manuscript variants or word ambiguities). This, then is a good example of the benefit of resisting the temptation to deviate from reading the Bible naturally.