Three distinct prophesies
In the Bible we read of the test that the Jews applied to Jesus (pbuh) in order to ascertain his truthfulness. The Jews had a prophecy that required Elias to come before Jesus (pbuh):
"Elias verily cometh first"
(also John 3:28). They had not seen Elias yet so they doubted the claim of Jesus (pbuh). Jesus, however, responded to them that Elias had already come but that they did not recognize him. In Matthew we read:
"But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not.........Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."
John, however refutes the claims of Jesus (pbuh). This is one of the Christian's "dark sayings of Jesus" that their scholars have tried to reconcile for centuries. We will leave this matter for them to work out among themselves (This matter is resolved in the Gospel of Barnabas. Please see chapter 7 for more).
Now, in John we read
"And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No."
We notice that there are three distinct prophecies here: 1) Elias, 2) Jesus, 3) That prophet. The Jews were not waiting for two prophecies, but three. This can be further clarified by reading John:
"And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be:
a) not that Christ,
b) nor Elias,
c) neither that prophet?"
If "that prophet" were Jesus (pbuh) wouldn't the third question in both verses be redundant? Further, we must remember that "That prophet" can not apply to any prophet before the time of Jesus (pbuh) because at the time of Jesus (pbuh) the Jews were still waiting for all three.
Notice how when we let the Bible speak for itself, without forcing the holy spirit or other supernatural meanings on it in the commentary, or forcing three questions to be only two, how clear these verses become.
For much more evidence in this regard, please read chapter 7 regarding the Dead Sea Scroll prophesies of "two messiahs" and how the Jews who wrote the scrolls and who were waiting for the coming of Jesus (pbuh) clearly state in these scrolls that they were waiting for not one, but TWO messiahs, the first of which would be announced by an eschatological prophet.
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