Matt. 17:12, 13: “[Jesus said:] ‘Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him but did with him the things they wanted. In this way also the Son of man is destined to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples perceived that he spoke to them about John the Baptist.”
Did this mean that John the Baptist was a reincarnated Elijah? When Jewish priests asked John, “Are you Elijah?” he said, “I am not.” (John 1:21) What, then, did Jesus mean? As Jehovah’s angel foretold, John went before Jehovah’s Messiah “with Elijah’s spirit and power, to turn back the hearts of fathers to children and the disobedient ones to the practical wisdom of righteous ones, to get ready for Jehovah a prepared people.” (Luke 1:17) So John the Baptist was fulfilling prophecy by doing a work like that of the prophet Elijah.–Mal. 4:5, 6.