- Matthew 17:3
- "And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him."
- This passage is used to prove that the reward of the righteous will be in heaven since Elijah, taken in a whirlwind, was still alive many hundreds of years later, and conversed with Jesus in the transfiguration.
- It is assumed that Elijah lived from the time he was taken to heaven in a whirlwind until the time he appeared to Jesus in the transfiguration, but the passage does not state this to be the case. Moses was present, but he had been dead, (Deut. 34:5). Therefore, the fact that Elijah was alive (assuming that he was bodily present) at the transfiguration, is not in itself proof that he continued to live after he was taken to heaven in a whirlwind. He may have died and been raised for the occasion.
- Even if Elijah was bodily present at the transfiguration, miraculously preserved since he was caught up in a whirlwind, his experience offers no grounds for present believers to expect a similar privilege. God has not promised to do for present believers what he did for Elijah.
- There is evidence that Elijah was back on earth after he was taken away in the whirlwind. It can be shown that a letter was received by Jehoram, King of Judah, from Elijah, after Elijah was taken to heaven. Either the letter was written before he went to heaven and delivered by a messenger on earth (unlikely), or Elijah was "caught away" as was Philip from the Gaza Road to Azotas, (about 17 miles, Acts 8:39,40) for an unspecified purpose and returned to the earth. Consider the evidence:
- Elijah had been taken to heaven in a whirlwind. (2 Kings 2:11).
- Elisha had taken over the duties of Elijah in the reign of Jehoshaphat. (2 Kings 3:10,11).,
- Jehoram received a letter from Elijah, the prophet. (2 Chron. 21:1, 9-12). King Jehoram reigned after Jehoshaphat. (2 Chron. 21:1).
- Elijah did not ascend to the heavens (the dwelling place of God)1 since it is expressly stated: "no man hath ascended up to heaven." (John 3:13).
- Matthew's account records Jesus' instruction to his disciples: "Tell the vision2 to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead." (Matt. 17:9). These words may mean simply, "Do not tell what you have seen", or they may imply that Elijah and Moses were not bodily present but what occurred, transpired as a subjective experience. A vision does not necessarily have objective reality (e.g. Acts 10:3;10,17; notice the contrast in Acts 12:9 where what was objective, was thought by Peter to be merely subjective), although it may, as when the Lord appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:19 cf. vs. 13-18)3 and possibly when the women at the tomb of Christ saw a "vision of angels". (Luke 24:23 cf. vs 4).
- "Heavens is used in Scripture for the place where the birds fly (Gen. 7:23), where the stars are located (Gen. 1:16,17), and where God dwells (Psa. 115:16). Return
- The Greek word, "horama" means "a sight, vision". Robert Young, Analytical Concordance to the Holy Bible, (London: Lutterworth Press, 1965). "Horama" is translated "sight" (Acts 7:31) in a context which requires objective reality - an angel really did appear to Moses "in a flame of fire in a bush". (Acts 7:30). Return
- In this verse a different Greek word, "optasia" is translated "vision". "Optasia" means, "a sight, apparition, vision". Ibid. Return