What does Matthew 17:11 mean?
ESV: He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things.
NIV: Jesus replied, 'To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.
NASB: And He answered and said, 'Elijah is coming and will restore all things;
CSB: "Elijah is coming and will restore everything," he replied.
NLT: Jesus replied, 'Elijah is indeed coming first to get everything ready.
KJV: And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
Verse Commentary:
The disciples are trying to figure out how the prophecy about the return of Elijah the prophet before the coming of the Messiah (Matthew 17:9–10) fits with what they have just seen on the mountain (Matthew 17:1–3) and with Jesus' mention that He will be raised from the dead. Jesus has confirmed that the teaching about the prophecy is true. It is found in Malachi 4:5–6:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction."
Now Jesus agrees that Elijah will come and that he will restore all things. Jesus also says in the following verse that Elijah has come, meaning that John the Baptist was the fulfilment of the prophecy about the return of Elijah. While John was not literally a reincarnation of Elijah (John 1:20–21), and many people rejected John's message (Matthew 11:14), he was successful in leading many in Israel to repentance (Luke 1:17). Ultimately, however, his work ended with rejection by Israel's religious leaders and execution by Israel's political leadership (Matthew 14:1–12).
Verse Context:
Matthew 17:1–13 follows Jesus' prediction that some of the disciples won't die before seeing Him coming in His kingdom (Matthew 16:28). Peter, James, and John see Jesus transfigured—radiating the glory of God––while talking with Moses and Elijah. Peter blunders in his attempt to contribute to the moment. The voice of God the Father identifies Jesus as His Son and commands the disciples to listen to Him. Jesus tells the three not to tell anyone else what they've seen until after He is raised from the dead. He answers their question about a prophecy involving Elijah.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a high mountain. There, they see Him "transfigured" into a shining, divine form. They also see Christ speaking with Moses and Elijah but are commanded not to speak of this event until later. Jesus heals a demon-afflicted boy after the disciples cannot cast the demon out. Jesus very clearly tells the disciples He will be delivered into the hands of men, killed, and raised on the third day. After explaining why He is exempt from a temple tax, Jesus agrees to pay it and tells Peter to find the money in the mouth of a fish.
Chapter Context:
Matthew 17 begins with the fulfillment of Jesus' prediction at the end of the previous chapter: that some of those present would not die before seeing Him coming in His kingdom. Jesus casts out a demon, predicts His death, and commands Peter to pay a temple tax with a coin from the mouth of a fish. This leads Matthew back to extensive records of Jesus' teachings, continuing through chapter 20.
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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