"I Will Send You Elijah the Prophet"

By Kenneth L. Alford

Kenneth L. Alford, “I Will Send You Elijah the Prophet," in You Shall Have My Word: Exploring the Text of the Doctrine and Covenants, ed. Scott C. Esplin, Richard O. Cowan, and Rachel Cope (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2012), 34–49.

“I Will Send Yo​u Elijah the Prophet”

Kenneth L. Alford

Kenneth L. Alford was an associate professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University when this book was published.

 

During the night of Sunday, September 21, 1823, at the dawn of the gospel’s restoration, the angel Moroni visited the teenager Joseph Smith Jr. and announced “that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God” (Joseph Smith—History 1:33). After telling young Joseph about the Book of Mormon plates, Moroni “commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament,” including Malachi 4:5–6, but he did so “with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles” (Joseph Smith—History 1:36). Echoing the prophet Malachi, Moroni prophesied that Elijah would return “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” to “plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers” (D&C 2:1–2). Of all the scriptural passages Moroni taught Joseph Smith that night, only one has been included in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 2). The prophecy of Elijah’s return was also included in the Nephite record (see 3 Nephi 25:5–6) by the Savior during his ministry in the Americas and in Joseph Smith—History 1:38–39, making it available in all four of the Latter-day Saint standard works. President Joseph Fielding Smith called this prophecy “perhaps the most direct promise recorded in the scriptures.” [1]

Elijah did return, as prophesied. On Easter Sunday, April 3, 1836, in the newly dedicated Kirtland Temple, he appeared—with other heavenly messengers—to Joseph Smith Jr. and Oliver Cowdery in order to restore essential priesthood “keys of this dispensation” (D&C 110:16). The Savior appeared first and accepted the recently completed temple built in his name. Moses appeared next and “committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth,” and then Elias, who “committed the dispensation of the gospel of Abraham” (D&C 110:11–12). [2] Elijah was the final visitor, and he restored the all-important keys of the sealing power as “spoken of by the mouth of Malachi” (D&C 110:14). Prior to his departure, Elijah proclaimed to Joseph that “the keys of this dispensation are committed into your hands” (D&C 110:16). [3]

Christian and Jewish theologians had worked for centuries to unlock the meaning of Malachi’s prophecy. A British scholar in 1832, for example, noted that this prophecy “is peculiarly worthy of our closest attention.” [4] Another Christian writer, in 1835, recognized that the prophecy of Elijah’s return was “the last words, of the last of the prophets, under the Mosaic dispensation; and [that] circumstance, alone, [was] sufficient to give them interest in our eyes.” [5]

Latter-day Saint doctrine regarding the mission of Elijah is unique. By reviewing what other Christian theologians taught on this subject prior to 1836 and then comparing it with Latter-day Saint scriptures and prophetic commentary, we can better understand the differences. This essay investigates how early nineteenth-century Christian theologians answered three key questions regarding Malachi’s prophecy. First, how would Elijah return? Second, when would Elijah return? And finally, why would Elijah return?

How Would Elijah Return?

Questions surrounding Elijah’s return and the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy have consumed a surprising amount of spoken and printed words. In focusing on how Elijah would return, Christian scholars have attempted to answer the following: (1) was John the Baptist the “Elijah” promised by Malachi, and (2) would Elijah the prophet himself return to the earth?

Was John the Baptist the promised Elijah? There is a good deal of evidence within the verses of the New Testament to support the belief that John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi’s promise, and many Christian scholars argue exactly that. When the angel Gabriel visited Zacharias to announce the birth of his son, John (the Baptist), he clearly echoed Malachi’s prophecy stating that “he [John] shall go before him [Christ] in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” (Luke 1:17). Later, when John began his ministry, his first conversation recorded in scripture also involves Malachi’s prophecy. Jewish priests and Levites sent from Jerusalem asked John, “Who art thou?” and he responded, “I am not the Christ.” Unsatisfied, the Jewish leaders then asked John, “What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No” (John 1:19–21).

Part of the confusion surrounding whether or not John the Baptist was “Elias” derived from the fact, as noted in the LDS Bible Dictionary, that the name Elias has multiple meanings. Two relevant definitions are that Elias is the Greek (New Testament) form of the Hebrew (Old Testament) name Elijah. Elias is also “a title for one who is a forerunner.” [6] The Jewish leaders were asking John if he was Elijah returning as prophesied by Malachi.

In the book of Matthew, the Savior is quoted as saying, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:13–14). Elias is also mentioned prominently in the Gospel accounts of the Savior’s Transfiguration. In the Gospel of Mark, the following dialogue with the Savior is recorded following his transfiguration: “And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things. . . . But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed” (Mark 9:11–13).

Based on the previously listed Gospel verses, many Christian theologians identified the fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy with the person and mission of John the Baptist. Here are representative statements from early nineteenth-century theologians and religious scholars:

· 1814: “For our Saviour does not say simply that John was Elias. . . . [This] is the Elias who, according to the prediction [in Malachi], was to come.” [7]

· 1822: “Elijah could be no other than John the Baptist. . . . John the Baptist was the Elias promised . . . whence it doth plainly follow, that they who do not think John the Baptist, and he only, was the Elias mentioned by the prophet [Malachi], must [be] mistake[n].” [8]

· 1826: “Christ identifies John with Elias, as the predicted forerunner.” [9]

· 1827: “Jesus Christ has instructed to consider it [Malachi 4:5–6] as accomplished in the person of John Baptist.” [10]

· 1832: “If Jesus Christ is to be believed Elijah had already come even in his day. He was no other than John Baptist.” [11]

· 1835: “With good reason, then, does Malachi apply to the son of Zacharias, the title of Elijah the Tishbite; and in very truth, we may believe, that, in him the prophecy has been fulfilled . . . [Matthew xi. 14].” [12]

Other scholars of that period, though, expressed the view that Malachi’s prophecy applied instead to both Christ “as well as his forerunner John the Baptist, who should come in the spirit and power of Elijah.” [13] Some theologians did not accept that John the Baptist was “that Elias” (meaning Elijah), noting that “the Elias mentioned by Malachi was to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and was, according to our Saviour’s acknowledgement, to restore or set all things in order; which seemeth not to have been done by the ministry of the Baptist, who continued but a short time, and did no such things as these words seem to imply; it remains, therefore, that these words should be fulfilled by an Elias, who should be the forerunner of Christ’s second advent.” [14]

To those who argued that John the Baptist did not fulfill Malachi’s prophecy because he was not actually Elijah the prophet returned from the dead (as the Jews expected), the Reverend Charles Simeon, an influential English cleric, reminded his readers in 1832 that the Jews called their Messiah “David,” not because they expected him to actually be King David returned but because “he was typified by David.” By analogy he then asked, “Why may not John [the Baptist], who came in the spirit and power of Elias, bear his name?” [15]

Still other Christian writers decided that “with respect to the meaning of the prophecy, it makes no difference whether Jesus was right in the person to whom he applied it.” [16] They believed Jesus made a mistake by identifying John as Elias. “The question of the disciples [Mark 9:11] was put to him [Christ] before he had time to reflect upon the event, or deduce the obvious conclusions, which a short consideration would not have failed to suggest.” [17] Other Christian scholars went further, questioning “this imagination of the appearance of the Tishbite [Elijah]” and wondering also if “the doctrine of the millennium . . . must be true.” [18]

What a blessing it is to have latter-day prophets who can speak authoritatively to answer questions like this. Joseph Smith Jr. received the answer in 1831 as he worked with Sidney Rigdon on the new translation of the Bible. According to the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 11:15, the Lord clearly stated that John “was the Elias, who was for to come and prepare all things.” The Lord inspired the Prophet to add an additional verse after Matthew 17:12, which reads as follows: “But I say unto you, Who is Elias? Behold, this is Elias, whom I send to prepare the way before me” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 17:13; emphasis added). Joseph Smith also corrected the following verse to read: “Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist, and also of another who should come and restore all things, as it is written by the prophets” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 17:14; emphasis added). John the Baptist, serving as the forerunner of the Messiah, most certainly served as an Elias—in partial, but not complete, fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy. With an understanding that Elijah’s return could apply to more than one circumstance, one nineteenth-century theologian correctly suggested that this prophecy possessed “like many of the prophecies, a double sense,—a sense applicable, on the one hand, to the Baptist, and which has been fulfilled in him;—and, on the other, to Elijah himself, and which remains yet to be fulfilled.” He observed that “many of the prophecies of Scripture have a double sense, and are to be interpreted accordingly.” [19]

Would Elijah personally return?

Some Christian clerics left open the possibility that it was possible that while John the Baptist could certainly be considered an Elias, in fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy, it did not preclude additional and later fulfillment of the same prophecy. The Protestant theologian James Anderson argued in 1835 that no “calm inquirer after the truth, [should] be perplexed or offended, at this double meaning of the sacred prophecies; on the contrary, he will recognize, in this very circumstance, a fresh evidence of their divine original. For he will perceive, that, this double meaning does not arise . . . from any doubt ‘as to their fulfillment in either sense, but from a foreknowledge of their accomplishment in both.’” He asked why the possibility of a double prophetic meaning should “not apply to the words of Malachi” and allow us to “believe that Elijah will again personally appear upon earth, to prepare the way for the second coming of the Lord?” Realizing he may have overreached, he backtracked a little, stating,

I am not prepared to say, that this opinion is not correct; because it is difficult to prove a negative in any instance;—and much more difficult must it be, of course, with regard to the future counsels of the unseen God. To deny, therefore, the possibility of such an interpretation being correct, would be as absurd as if mariners, upon a voyage of discovery, were to determine that there could be no land, because they can discern nothing but sea. Still, it may be doubted, whether the truth of this opinion can be ever satisfactorily established, in our present state of knowledge; and, whether, in seeking to establish it, we may not be in danger of wasting our time, our strength, and the best energies of our nature, in the prosecution of a vain pursuit. [20]

Subsequent prophetic pronouncements have answered those questions.

Christian traditions regarding Elijah’s return have often seemed to intermix with longstanding Jewish traditions. An 1827 Protestant writer noted that it was “a standing tradition among the Jews, that their Shiloh, or Messiah, their avenger and king, is not to appear till the coming of Elijah; and they are persuaded that they have had one Elijah, who is to appear again at the renewing of the world. Elijah, according to them, is to introduce the great sabbath, the great Messiah, and the general revolution of all things. This notion has been received among Christians. Elijah is to come to declare the dissolution of this world, and a new order of things,” and he then declared his personal belief that “almost all the fanatics expect an Elijah.” [21]

Antoine Augustin Calmet, a French Catholic theologian, taught that the “fathers and commentators have generally explained this passage (Mal. Iv, 5,) as relating to the final judgment and the second coming of the Savior; It has been the constant tradition of both the Synagogue and the Church, that the Prophet Elias will appear really, and in person, previous to the end of the world.” [22] Several Protestant theologians took a similar view. Nathaniel Homes wrote in 1833 that “an Elijah [is] yet to come . . . either (as we said) personally,—that is, he himself individually in his own person; or else personatedly,—that is, (if I may so speak) specifically, being represented by one of the like kind and degree of parts exactly like unto him; viz. mighty in spirit and action . . . when he shall ‘restore all things’.” [23]

Homes and others argued correctly that John the Baptist’s mission as an Elias did not represent complete fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy—“the all of Elijah’s coming” as Homes phrased it. [24] Adherents to this point of view noted that when the Savior spoke of Elijah’s coming (see Matthew 17:12) he spoke in the present tense “intimating that he [Elijah] is still coming. . . . Therefore as Christ comes twice, so with the proportionable decorum, his harbinger comes twice, both times to usher in his master. The one is past in John Baptist; the other is to come, in him that is still called and expected by the name of Elijah.” [25] Another Protestant theologian, writing in 1834, argued that the angel Gabriel’s declaration to Zacharias that his son, John, “shall go before him [the Messiah] in . . . [the] spirit and power [of Elias]” (Luke 1:17) actually implies an additional “appearance of Elijah in person.” [26]

Protestant thinking on this subject was not consistent. One 1801 article went so far as to suggest that “the name Elijah (Malachi iv. 5) is a corrupt reading for Enoch. . . . It was very natural for Malachi to announce the coming of another Enoch before the second judgment, before the other great and dreadful day of the Lord. Whereas the name of Elijah is strangely unsuitable.” [27] Taking an alternate view, the Reverend John Fry concluded in 1822 that “John’s ministry was not what was ultimately intended . . . by Elijah in Malachi; but that these symbols must have a more remote and fuller accomplishment hereafter. . . . John, in no sense, ‘restored all things;’ but Elijah, or whatever be intended by Elijah’s coming, will.” [28]

Writing in rebuttal to Calmet and fellow Protestants with similar views, the 1832 Christian Messenger suggested that it was nothing more than “Jewish superstition” to look “for the return of the old prophet Elijah in person.” [29] In an overreaching attempt to speak on behalf of all Protestants, the writers stated that Protestants reject this “groundless tradition” and “unite in rejecting . . . the traditions of the Synagogue and the mother Church. This opinion, therefore, that Elias or Elijah will personally re-appear previous to the end of the world, and the great day of final judgment is abandoned.” [30] In 1835, a few months prior to Elijah’s actual visit in Kirtland, the Reverend Edward Johnstone wrote that those who looked forward to Elijah’s actual return “erroneously expect him” and misunderstood “the prediction of Malachi which foretold the coming of the Lord . . . supposing that He was to come in power and majesty . . . and make Jerusalem the metropolis of the world.” Elijah the Tishbite would not, he wrote, “in his own person, return from heaven, as the Lord’s messenger and forerunner.” [31] Yet that is what occurred in Ohio a few months later.

In 1835 Anderson noted that “however plausible may be the arguments, and however ingenious the hypothesis, which are framed in support of this, or of any other interpretation of unfulfilled prophecies, we cannot . . . take them to our bosoms, with the same unreserved and implicit confidence. . . . For, in the absence of any specific revelation explaining it, a prophecy can only be interpreted by the event; and if the prophecy be unfulfilled, i.e. if the event have not yet come to pass,—how can we possibly take upon ourselves, to determine the precise mode, in which it shall come to pass?” [32] Indeed! Latter-day Saints should recognize that without the declarations of modern prophets stating that Elijah the prophet had returned, they would also be left to ponder when, where, and how Malachi’s prophecy might be fulfilled.

Nineteenth-century Christian theologians could not adequately explain or interpret Malachi’s prophecy. As Elder Matthias F. Cowley, a Latter-day Saint Apostle, pointed out:

When we ask Catholic and Protestant ministers if an angel has come to any of them with the everlasting Gospel, they answer in the negative, and deride the idea of new revelation. Ask them if Elijah the Prophet has come to them, to plant in the hearts of the children the promise made to the fathers. They say no. . . . The very question itself is treated with utter astonishment, and the man who asks it is regarded as being erratic. We must therefore turn from sects having forms of godliness “but denying the power thereof,” to other sources to find some one who has received, or shall receive, the revelations of the Almighty in the last days. [33]

Elder Howard W. Hunter, a Latter-day Saint Apostle and later Church President, suggested that “no passage in scripture gives students of the Old Testament greater problems of interpretation than this one in the Book of Malachi. . . . Without further revelation we would be left in darkness as to his [Elijah’s] mission and the meaning of the promise stated by Malachi.” [34] Church President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that the “reason for this stumbling is due largely to the failure of Bible commentators to comprehend that it is both possible and reasonable for an ancient prophet, who lived nearly 1,000 years before the time of Christ, to be sent in these days.” [35] Joseph Smith had been expecting Elijah’s return since Moroni’s 1823 instruction to him that the Lord “will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah” (D&C 2:1; emphasis added). [36] Doctrine and Covenants 110 declares unequivocally that the Old Testament Prophet Elijah personally returned on April 3, 1836, in Kirtland, Ohio, in fulfillment of Malachi 4:5–6.

When Would Elijah Return?

The scriptures state that if Elijah did not return, the Lord would “smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6) and “the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his [Christ’s] coming” (D&C 2:3). Malachi prophesied that Elijah would return “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Malachi 4:5 and D&C 2:1). For devout Jews throughout the centuries, it has been almost as though Elijah never really left. They believe Elijah is an unseen witness at every circumcision ceremony, and during Passover each year Jewish families invite Elijah to enter their home and sit in a seat reserved for him. [37]

Christian ministers and writers have vigorously debated the exact meaning of “the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Some scholars argued that it meant “the consummation of all earthly things”; other intellectuals claimed that it referred to “the subversion of the Jewish state and polity” or “the final destruction of the Jews.” [38] Some scholars were so certain that their understanding was correct, they proclaimed that “no Protestant will question [this doctrine] unless he is prepared to go back to the traditions and fooleries of the dark ages.” [39] Some theologians believed that the great and dreadful day referred to “the destruction of Jerusalem.” Others believed that it was “the day of final retribution; and that Elijah, the real and personal Elijah, shall proclaim the coming of that day.” [40] Still others admitted that they did not know what the great and dreadful day meant, only that it was not fulfilled during the Savior’s life—“the gospel day was not the great and terrible day of the Lord, but the visitation of mercy.” [41]

Latter-day scripture and modern prophets, seers, and revelators have given us a better understanding of the great and dreadful day. D&C 110 reminds us that Elijah was “sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come” (D&C 110:14), which eliminates all speculation that the announced day had occurred before 1836. Two verses later, Elijah told Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery that “by this [his coming and bestowing priesthood keys] ye may know that the great and dreadful day of the Lord is near, even at the doors” (D&C 110:16). D&C 128:17 and 138:46 also reference “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” which modern prophets and Apostles have defined as “Christ's second coming” which will be “the end of the world” when “Jehovah, the Messiah, will come in glory. The wicked will all be destroyed.” [42]

Why Would Elijah Return?

As Elder Henry B. Eyring noted, “It is important to know why the Lord promised to send Elijah.” [43] It is on this question that early nineteenth-century scholars proposed the fewest number of possible answers. Jewish scholars have generally been more forthright and declarative than their Christian counterparts on this subject—teaching that Elijah’s return was necessary so that he could, among other things, anoint the Messiah prior to his appearance. The Qahal Qadosh Gadol (Great Congregation) Synagogue in Jerusalem actually has a chair mounted near the ceiling in one of its worship rooms for Elijah to use when he shall anoint the Messiah. For centuries this congregation “cherished an old shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) and oil jug in a niche in one of the synagogue walls. Tradition whispered from generation to generation that with this very shofar the prophet Elijah would announce the coming of the Messiah and with oil poured from this ancient juglet the Messiah would be anointed.” [44]

More important than asking whether Elijah would return is asking and understanding why Elijah would return. Malachi stated there was something connected to Elijah’s return that would “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6). In September 1823, Moroni slightly modified that wording, stating that Elijah’s visit “shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers” (D&C 2:2; emphasis added).

Christian scholars prior to Elijah’s 1836 return speculated about Malachi’s meaning. An 1823 scriptural commentary suggested that turning the hearts of the fathers to the children meant only that Elijah “should preach to young and old, conversion and repentance.” [45] An 1832 book of religious discourses proposed that turning the hearts meant the “harmonious expectation of the Messiah; ‘fathers with their children, and children with their fathers.’” [46] And in 1835, Anderson suggested that Malachi’s words “might be rendered, with equal correctness, and perhaps with greater force of meaning, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers with the children;’ to bring all, i.e. of every age and rank, to the work of repentance, and the prayer of faith.” [47]

With knowledge provided by the restoration of the gospel, President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that the fathers mentioned by Malachi are “our dead ancestors who died without the privilege of receiving the gospel, but who received the promise that the time would come when that privilege would be granted them.” The children referred to “are those now living who are preparing genealogical data and who are performing the vicarious ordinances in the temples.” He further explained that the “turning of the hearts of the children to the fathers is placing or planting in the hearts of the children that feeling and desire which will inspire them to search out the records of the dead.” [48] Temple ordinances and the sealing of families eternally together became possible because of Elijah’s return.

Joseph Smith also stressed the importance of receiving the keys of the sealing power. He explained in September 1842 that “the great and grand secret of the whole matter . . . consists in obtaining the powers of the Holy Priesthood. For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living” (D&C 128:11). Elijah’s visit enables us to be prepared when Christ returns (see D&C 38:30).

Blessings of the Restoration

Elijah’s return was a mission of eternal significance. Temple ordinances are able to bind families eternally together because the sealing keys are once again in the hands of the Lord’s authorized servants. Latter-day Saints understand the significance of the priesthood keys that Elijah restored at Kirtland, Ohio. As Elder LeGrand Richards observed, “Nobody in this world, I am sure, outside of this church, could tell you what the message of Elijah was. We wouldn't know either, except that Elijah came and appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on the third day of April 1836.” [49]

Joseph Smith spoke of the sweeping reach of the doctrines related to priesthood sealing keys and the mission and spirit of Elijah. “The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah,” he said, “is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fullness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto their fathers, even those who are in heaven.” [50] He noted that “the greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.” [51] The Prophet further asked, “What is the object of this important mission? . . . The keys are to be delivered, the spirit of Elijah is to come, the Gospel to be established, the Saints of God gathered, Zion built up, and the Saints to come up as saviors on Mount Zion.” [52] It is the sealing power that enables us not only to seek but to provide saving ordinances for the dead.

Summary

Anderson noted in 1835 that “every attentive reader of Scripture must have observed the manner in which the pencil of inspired prophets has continually shadowed out the grand events of futurity.” [53] Malachi certainly “shadowed out” one of the grandest events of our dispensation when he prophesied Elijah’s future return. Essential priesthood keys were restored in the Kirtland Temple in 1836, but “none of more far reaching or greater significance than the keys of authority bestowed by Elijah.” [54] The importance of the restored doctrines regarding the sealing power and the blessings that flow from them cannot be overstated. Writing to the Church members in 1842, Joseph Smith called this work the “most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel” (D&C 128:17).

Christian and Jewish writers had struggled for centuries to explain and understand Malachi’s prophecy, but it was through Joseph Smith and temple-building Latter-day Saints that the world learned how the ancient prophecy was fulfilled. “No one else,” explained President Joseph Fielding Smith, “knew what was meant by this passage of scripture.” [55] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears enthusiastic testimony to the world that Elijah came and restored necessary priesthood keys that can bless all the families of the earth.

Notes

[1] Joseph Fielding Smith, “The Promises Made to the Fathers,” Improvement Era, July 1922, 830; see also Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1956), 2:157.

[2] Joseph Fielding Smith noted that there may also have been additional, unrecorded visitors that spring day: “It was in the Kirtland Temple, April 3, 1836, that the Lord sent to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery some of the ancient prophets with their keys. How many came we do not know.” See Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:126.

[3] The vision (in D&C 110) was recorded in Joseph Smith’s journal (by his scribe Warren Cowdery, Oliver’s older brother), and Joseph made reference to Elijah’s return in D&C 128:17. The vision itself was first printed on November 6, 1852 (in the Salt Lake City Deseret News). Joseph Smith and other Church leaders made references to Elijah’s return and mission after April 1836, but section 110 did not appear in the Doctrine and Covenants until the 1876 edition. See Trever R. Anderson, “Doctrine and Covenants Section 110: From Vision to Canonization” (master’s thesis, Brigham Young University, 2010).

[4] Reverend Charles Simeon, Horae Homileticae: or Discourses, 10:627. (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1832), 10:627. Charles Simeon (1759–1836) was an English clergyman. A 1902 review of important nineteenth-century religious leaders noted that “among the great religious leaders of the first half of the nineteenth century in England and America there is surely to be reckoned Charles Simeon. . . . He was an indefatigable preacher, a great Bible student, a born son of consolation, a man of most thorough consecration to his church, a man to whom religion was not a part of life but the whole of life—the great subject of conversation and of private thinking. He also had the true missionary instinct to impart these views to others, and so by means of his university lectures, unpublished and published sermons, innumerable letters, and by means of weekly gatherings in his rooms . . . he moulded [sic] the university life and educated large numbers of ministers in his way of thinking.” Samuel Macauley Jackson, “Charles Simeon,” in Christendom Anno Domini MDCCCCI, ed. Reverend William D. Grant (New York: Chauncey Holt, 1902), 2:115–16.

[5] James S. M. Anderson, Discourses on Elijah, and John the Baptist (London: Gilbert & Rivington, 1835), 1. Anderson was an influential English theologian whose formal title was “Chaplain in Ordinary to the Queen, Perpetual Curate of St. George’s Chapel, Brighton, and Chaplain to the Sussex County Hospital.” The discourses quoted in this essay were delivered in St. George’s Chapel—several of them while the queen was in attendance.

[6] Bible Dictionary, “Elias,” 663.

[7] Edward Everett, A Defence of Christianity, against the Work of George B. English (Boston: Cummings and Hilliard, 1814), 183. At the time he made this statement, Edward Everett (1794–1865) was pastor of the Brattle Street Congregational and Unitarian Church in Boston. After leaving the ministry to become a professor of Greek literature at Harvard, he served ten years (1825–35) in the US House of Representatives, representing Massachusetts’s Fourth Congressional District. He also served as the governor of Massachusetts (1836–39), ambassador to Great Britain (1840–45), president of Harvard University (1846–49), US secretary of state (1852), and US senator from Massachusetts (elected in 1853; he resigned in 1854). In 1860 he ran for vice president on the Constitutional Union Party ticket, which received nearly 13 percent of the vote. At the time of his death, it was suggested that he was “the most mellifluous, winning, accomplished public speaker the country has ever produced, and it must be a long time before the nation will behold and hear his equal.” As the main speaker during the November 1853 ceremony to dedicate the cemetery at Gettysburg, Edward Everett spoke for over two hours prior to President Abraham Lincoln giving his Gettysburg Address. See Reverend A. P. Putnam, A Sermon Occasioned by the Death of Edward Everett, Preached at the Church of the Saviour, Brooklyn, N.Y. January 22, 1865 (New York: George F. Nesbitt, 1865), 5.

[8] Simon Patrick, William Lowth, Richard Arnald, Daniel Whitby, Moses Lowman, and John Pitman, A Critical Commentary and Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament and the Apocrypha, 5:121 (London: J. F. Dove, 1822), 5:121.

[9] Reverend Daniel Guildford Wait, A Course of Sermons Preached before the University of Cambridge, in the Year M.DCCC.XXV. (London: C. & J. Rivington, 1826), 134. Reverend Wait (1789–1850) was an English clergyman, scholar, and author. According to the title page of this publication, Reverend Wait was a “member of St. John’s College, Rector of Blagdon, Somersetshire, and member of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain.” He also translated numerous religious works into English.

[10] The Reverend Samuel Burder, Sermons of The Rev. James Saurin, trans. Robert Robinson, Henry Hunter, and Joseph Sutcliffe (Princeton: D. A. Borrenstein, 1827). Reverend Burder was associated with Clare Hall (advanced studies) at Cambridge University. He was the author of several books, including a four-volume revision of The Genuine Works of Flavius Josephus (1824). He also served as a Lecturer of the United Parishes of Christ Church, Newgate Street, and St. Leonard Foster Lane in London and was Chaplain to his Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.

[11] T. J. Sawyer and P. Price, eds., The Christian Messenger, Devoted to the Doctrine of Universal Benevolence, 1:334 (New York: P. Price, 1832), 1:334.

[12] Anderson, Discourses on Elijah, 163–64.

[13] The New and Complete American Encyclopaedia: or, Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, vol. 5 (New York: John Low, 1808), 212.

[14] Patrick, Lowth, Arnald, Whitby, Lowman, and Pitman, Critical Commentary, 5:122.

[15] Simeon, Horae Homileticae, 628–29; emphasis in original.

[16] The Theological Repository; Consisting of Original Essays, Hints, Queries, etc. Calculated to Promote Religious Knowledge, 6:168(Birmingham: Pearson and Rollason, 1788), 6:168.

[17] Theological Repository, 173.

[18] Patrick, Lowth, Arnald, Whitby, Lowman, and Pitman, Critical Commentary, 121.

[19] Anderson, Discourses on Elijah, 163–64.

[20] Anderson, Discourses on Elijah, 167–69; emphasis in original.

[21] The Literary Gazette, and American Athenaeum, 3:247 (New York: Dixon & Sickels, 1827), 3:247.

[22] Quoted in Sawyer and Price, Christian Messenger, 334. Calmet (1672–1757) was a Benedictine monk.

[23] Nathaniel Homes, The Resurrection Revealed, or the Dawning of the Day-Star (London: Simpkin and Marshall, 1833), 224; emphasis in original.

[24] Homes, Resurrection Revealed, 224; emphasis in original.

[25] Homes, Resurrection Revealed, 224; emphasis in original.

[26] Edward Greswell, An Exposition of the Parables and of other Parts of the Gospels, 1:157-58 (Oxford: J. G. & F. Rivington, 1834), 1:157–58. The son of a clergyman, Edward Greswell (1797–1869) was a fellow of Corpus Christi College at Oxford University and a chronologist. See Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., Dictionary of National Biography (New York: Macmillan; London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1890), 23:156.

[27] “Remarks on the Book of Enoch,” The Monthly Magazine; or, British Register, May 1, 1801, 300.

[28] Reverend John Fry, The Second Advent; or, the Glorious Epiphany of our Lord Jesus Christ, vol. 1 (London: Ogle, Duncan, and Co., 1822), 275–76. Reverend Fry was quite interested in the mission and ministry of Elijah; he wrote and published, for example, an extended poem (over one hundred printed pages) entitled The History of Elijah and Elisha, in Two Parts: A Poem. See John Fry, Select Poems, Containing Religious Epistles, etc. Occasionally Written on Various Subjects (Stanford, England: Daniel Lawrence, 1805), 95–224.

[29] Sawyer and Price, Christian Messenger, 334.

[30] Sawyer and Price, Christian Messenger, 334; emphasis in original.

[31] Reverend Edward Johnstone, The Life of Christ; A Manual of Elementary Religious Knowledge (London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, 1835), xlvii–xlix. According to the title page, Reverend Johnstone was “Chaplain of the Incorporated General Cemetery, Harrow Road: and Evening Preacher at Eaton Chapel, Eaton Square” in London.

[32] Anderson, Discourses on Elijah, 168.

[33] Matthias F. Cowley, Cowley’s Talks on Doctrine (Chattanooga: Ben E. Rich, 1902), 26–27.

[34] Howard W. Hunter, “Elijah the Prophet,” Ensign, December 1971, 70–71.

[35] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:171; emphasis in original.

[36] See “The Prophetic Value of Section Two,” Improvement Era, July 1906, 668.

[37] Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991), 113.

[38] Sawyer and Price, Christian Messenger, 334. Edward Chandler, A Defence of Christianity from the Prophecies of the Old Testament; Wherein are Considered All the Objections against this Kind of Proof (London: James and John Knapton, 1728), 68. Edward Chandler (1668?–1750) was an English bishop (serving in both Lichfield and Durham, England). See Alumni cantabrigienses; a biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge, from the earliest times to 1900 (Cambridge: The University Press, 1922–54).

[39] Sawyer and Price, Christian Messenger, 83.

[40] Anderson, Discourses on Elijah, 163–64.

[41] Fry, Second Advent, 276.

[42] Gordon B. Hinckley, “His Latter-day Kingdom Has Been Established,” Ensign, May 1991, 92; Henry B. Eyring, “Hearts Bound Together,” Ensign, May 2005, 78.

[43] Eyring, “Hearts Bound Together,” 78.

[44] Danie Haim, Four Ancient Synagogues—The Beating Heart of the Sephardi Community in Jerusalem (unpublished handout distributed to synagogue visitors, n.d.), 3; emphasis in original. I am grateful to Dr. Craig Ostler, who brought this handout to my attention.

[45] Reverend Charles Swan, Sermons on Several Subjects; with Notes, Critical, Historical, and Explanatory and an Appendix (London: C. and I. Rivington, 1823), 43. Reverend Swan was a British cleric associated with St. Catharine’s College at the University of Cambridge.

[46] Simeon, Horae Homileticae, 630; emphasis in original.

[47] Anderson, Discourses on Elijah, 171; emphasis in original.

[48] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:127.

[49] LeGrand Richards, “The Second Coming of Christ,” Ensign, May 1978, 74.

[50] Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B. H. Roberts, 2nd ed. rev. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 6:251.

[51] Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007), 475.

[52] Smith, History of the Church, 6:184.

[53] Anderson, Discourses on Elijah, 166.

[54] Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:126.

[55] Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, April 1920, 108.