What does Matthew 11:14 mean?
ESV: and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
NIV: And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.
NASB: And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.
CSB: And if you're willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who is to come.
NLT: And if you are willing to accept what I say, he is Elijah, the one the prophets said would come.
KJV: And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
NKJV: And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.
Verse Commentary:
Malachi is the final book of what we now call the Old Testament. Malachi, like all the prophets, delivered the message God gave him to say. These included statements about what would happen in the distant future. Malachi lived hundreds of years before the births of John the Baptist and Jesus, but he wrote what God said about them both:
"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 3:1).

"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes" (Malachi 4:5).
Luke's gospel quotes the angel of the Lord describing the work John the Baptist will do to his father. This uses the same phrasing found in Malachi: "And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he 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 1:16–17).

John the Baptist himself denied that he was literally Elijah (John 1:21); he refuted any suggestion that he was that prophet reborn or returned to earth in some way. Jesus, though, insists that John was the fulfillment of Malachi's prophecy that Elijah would be sent to prepare the way for Christ. John certainly came "in the spirit and power of Elijah," as the angel said.

Jesus adds "if you are willing to accept it," implying that He knew not everyone would grasp that this was true or what it meant. If John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the promise of the return of Elijah to usher in the day of the Lord, it means Jesus was claiming to be the Lord.
Verse Context:
Matthew 11:1–19 deals with John the Baptist, who is in prison at this point (Matthew 4:12). John sends his own disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them an answer and then upholds John to the crowds. He reminds them of John's strength and affirms that John was the prophet who fulfilled the prophecy about the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. This generation, though, rejected John's message of repentance, saying that John had a demon and that Jesus was a glutton and a drunkard. Jesus insists He and John will be proved right in the end.
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist sends his disciples to ask if Jesus is really the Messiah. Jesus gives them a specific answer to use to reassure John and then upholds John to the crowds. John fulfills the prophecy about the one who would prepare the people for the Messiah. This generation, though, refused to hear John or Jesus, deciding John had a demon and Jesus was a glutton and drunkard. Jesus condemns the cities that refuse to repent and thanks the Father for revealing the truth to little children. He offers rest for those who are weary and burdened.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 11 follows Jesus' instructions to the apostles about taking His message and miracles to the towns of Israel with His own continued ministry of teaching (Matthew 10). Jesus answers a question from John the Baptist's followers, and upholds John's ministry. Jesus condemns several cities in Galilee for rejecting His teaching, despite obvious signs. He thanks His Father for hiding the truth from those who arrogantly think they are wise. He offers rest for those who will take His yoke. This leads to further confrontations with critics, recorded in chapter 12.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
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