The Spirit of Elijah
While people like to devise very colorful and powerful ideas around these passages, they are not as complicated as some people make them. Remember, it is never wise to make an argument from silence, because there is no evidence in silence.
Very simply, Malachi, the last prophet before Christ came, announced that the “spirit of Elijah” would announce Christ’s arrival; that person was John the Baptist. Some say that this was just the Spirit of Elijah that God placed on John the Baptist. That idea is ridiculous for several reasons. First, the Spirit that indwelled Elijah, as He ministered for God, was the Holy Spirit, and not another prophet’s spirit. The same is true of John the Baptist. The real Spirit that indwelled John the Baptist as He proclaimed Christ was the Holy Spirit. The “spirit” or likeness of Elijah was in the proclamation. John the Baptist was like the prophet Elijah. John the Baptist’s ministry fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6 .
Secondly, Jesus confirmed this in Matthew 11:12-14.
12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Matt 11:12-15 (ESV)
What Jesus was saying is that the spirit of Elijah was a picture of what John the Baptist’s ministry was about. In Luke 1:16-18, the angel Gabriel, when speaking to Zechariah, John’s father, affirmed the same idea by quoting the Malachi passage. Upon the arrival of Jesus there was no more use for this term. The Spirit of Elijah, is a term that is synonymous with John the Baptist’s pronouncement about the Kingdom of God, which had come. To say that it is something more is to return to the Old Covenant and to ignore the New Covenant. Jesus also confirmed this, at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2-9 and Mark 9:11-12) It should also be noted that the entire subject of Elijah is accounted for at the end of the Old Testament. This is looking forward to the new Covenant. That being so, the next and only time the spirit of Elijah is mentioned, is in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark. If it was to be an ongoing doctrine, it would be mentioned further, but it is not.
Those who claim to have “the spirit of Elijah,” claim to have special knowledge about God’s will and claim to proclaim God’s Word. This is also fallacious. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that the prophets were those God used to speak to His people before Christ. Since Christ has come, there is no need for prophets. Now, every single believer has the spirit of God, unlike the Old Testament people. The New Covenant replaced the old way of God’s communication with us. Now, God’s Word says, in these last days, he has spoken to us by His Son.
Anyone who claims to speak through the Spirit of Elijah is denying God’s Word and is practicing a heresy that both the Apostles and the Early Church Fathers fought against. It is the heresy of Gnosticism.