By Dr. Kenneth L. Gentry Jr
The evidence is really quite clear that Christ fulfills Malachi’s Elijianic prophecy in the first century. This not only undercuts both dispensationalism’s hermeneutic and its eschatology, but supports preteristic expectations and postmillennial eschatology.
In Matthew 17:10–13 we read:
And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Elijah truly is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not know him but did to him whatever they wished. . . . Then the disciples understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist.”
Here Christ teaches his disciples that John the Baptist fulfills the Malachi prophecy covenantally, even though the Jews do not understand it. John introduces the restoration of all things, i.e., redemptive history’s final phase in Christ’s kingdom — with its power to progressively bring the world to salvation (as per postmillennialism, Mt 13:31–33; Jn 3:17; Ro 11:15). Christ establishes the kingdom and then returns to heaven to await the historical conquest of all his enemies (Ac 2:33–35; 1Co 15:21–27; cf. Mt 28:18–20). He will not return until he brings all things under his providential rule (Ac 3:21; 1Co 15:25).
I do not see how a statement could be clearer. But then, I have never understood how dispensationalism even exists. Dispensationalism will not let go that easily, however. Tomorrow I will focus on their objection to this interpretation. Stay tuned.