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Mark 15:35

ESV And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.”
NIV When some of those standing near heard this, they said, 'Listen, he's calling Elijah.'
NASB And when some of the bystanders heard Him, they began saying, 'Look! He is calling for Elijah!'
CSB When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "See, he's calling for Elijah."
NLT Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah.
KJV And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.

What does Mark 15:35 mean?

Jesus has just cited part of Psalm 22, another Old Testament reference to the suffering of the Messiah (Mark 15:34). In Matthew's account, Jesus cries out, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (Matthew 27:46). "Eloi," from Mark 15:34, is Aramaic while "Eli" is Hebrew. Lema sabachthani is Aramaic. Matthew wrote to Jews who would know Aramaic and Hebrew while Mark wrote to Gentiles who would be familiar with Aramaic but probably not Hebrew. The translations don't affect the meaning of the text, but if Matthew is a more direct quote, it explains why the bystanders think Jesus is calling for Elijah.

In addition, the timing is right. Jewish tradition says that Elijah is present at the Passover meal. Legend says Elijah will come to rescue the righteous. And it makes sense if Jesus really is the Messiah; in Malachi 4:5, God promised, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes."

But, in the prophetic sense, Elijah already came: as John the Baptist. Before John was born, when an angel came to tell the priest Zechariah his wife would have a son, the angel paraphrased Malachi 4:6, saying John "will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared" (Luke 1:17). After the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–13), Jesus tells Peter, James, and John that Elijah had come and was killed. The disciples recognize Jesus is talking about John the Baptist. John the Baptist was not really Elijah, but his mission was similar and he fulfilled the prophecy.

In the future, during the tribulation, some scholars believe that the literal person Elijah will return as one of the two witnesses (Revelation 11:1–13). The two witnesses will prophecy for 1,260 days before they are assassinated. After their bodies lie on the street for three and a half days, they will rise again and go up to heaven. Immediately after, seven thousand people will die in an earthquake in Jerusalem. If Elijah does return, the people will not mention it so casually.
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