CGFF claims that Herbert W. Armstrong was Elijah, but what about the Bible?

Elijah in the wilderness


In The Journal: News of the Churches of God, Don Billingsley of Church of God, Faithful Flock (CGFF) had the following in a paid advertisement (bolding in the source):

Malachi 4:5-6—“Behold, I will send you the Elijah the prophet ( cf. Luke 1:17) BEFORE the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD ! . . .”

Jesus Christ confirmed this promise to His disciples, saying, “Indeed, Elijah is coming FIRST and will RESTORE all things (Matthew 16:26-27; 17:1-11).” “All things” = God’s laws and all the true doctrinal teachings while WARNING His chosen people, Israel, of the Great Tribulation (cf. Malachi 4:5-6), and preparing the way for Christ’s coming (cf. Malachi 3:1; Mark 1:1-3, 14-15).

When considering the 52 years of the ministry of Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, and all that he was used by Jesus Christ to accomplish, there should be no question but that he was the one promised to be the Elijah of the end-time. Further, no one else came on the scene before or aft er to fulfill that role since 1934 until now.

Question: What would anyone else do that he has not already done? All one has to do is to seriously study the last book he wrote before he died, the MYSTERY OF THE AGES, and the two volumes of his Autobiography, while looking at his fruits over those years (cf. Matthew 7:20), to realize he was the one used by Christ in the office of Elijah.

Well, actually, the criteria to use is from the Bible. So, let’s again start with Malachi 4:5-6 as Don Billingsley did, But let’s show the entire verses (which he did not do), yet as shown in the Jewish Publication Society translation:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet

Before the coming Of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children,
And the heart of the children to their fathers;
Lest I come and smite the land with utter destruction.

Notice that the Elijah is to come just before the great and terrible day of the LORD, and if he did not come, utter destruction would occur.

Herbert W. Armstrong died in January 16, 1986.

Since Don Billingsley said to look to the book the Mystery of the Ages, let’s see what Herbert W. Armstrong actually wrote about the timing of the final Elijah:

Also Malachi 4:5-6 pictures the Elijah to come at the very end of the Church age (Mystery of the Ages. 1985, p. 349).

When did Herbert W. Armstrong write that the Church age was over? Notice:

At the end of the Church age and 6,000 years from Adam, Christ would return to earth as King of kings and Lord of Lords, ruling all nations, with the saints, for one millennium. (Armstrong HW. What If Adam Had Taken of the Tree of Life? Plan Truth, March 1983)

The “very end” of the Church age was not over 30 years ago! The 6000 years has NOT yet been fulfilled (see also Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?). Since the “very end of the Church age” has not happened, and he died decades ago, his writings support that there must be another Elijah. And he was referring to an individual in the Mystery of the Ages.

Let’s address two other points that Don Billingsley’s ad brings up.

First, there is only one volume of the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong. While Herbert W. Armstrong intended to have a second volume, he never produced one. The last Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong that was authorized was published in 1973, and it never discussed him being the Elijah.

Now, it is true that after his death, the Tkach Administration edited the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong by removing references to Sardis and Philadelphia, and they added some letters that Herbert W. Armstrong wrote (see The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made?). But to call this the Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong is not proper. Herbert W. Armstrong, himself, did not make the edits nor authorize its publication.

Secondly, Herbert W. Armstrong never authorized what is considered to be the second volume. The book called that was prepared by the Tkach Administration, and while it mainly contained letters that Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, he did not put it together, edit it, or make it like his actual autobiography.

That being said, sometimes Herbert W. Armstrong did think that he may have fulfilled the Elijah role, but he told the late Dibar Apartian (who told me) that he was NOT the Elijah. Furthermore, essentially on his deathbed, Herbert W. Armstrong admitted to his closest aid, Aaron Dean (who told me this multiple times) that there could be an Elijah to come after he died (see also The Elijah Heresies).

This combined with what Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in The Mystery of the Ages and the length of time since his death demonstrates that Herbert W. Armstrong could not biblically be the final prophesied Elijah.

Various ones think that John the Baptist was the prophesied final Elijah and no other was to come (see The Elijah Heresies).

While it is true that John the Baptist was a fulfillment of some of the Elijah prophecies (see Matthew 11:14) and he came “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), Jesus taught more on this subject:

1 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; 2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. 7 But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” 8 When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

9 Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”

10 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”

11 Jesus answered and said to them, “Indeed, Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. …” (Matthew 17:1-11).

In Matthew 17:11, the term translated “will restore” is the Greek term apokathistemi which means “to reconstitute” or “restore (again)” (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright (c) 1994, Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, Inc.) and is preceded by the Greek term men which means “truly” in the asseverative sense. In Matthew 11:14 the Greek term mello is used which means “was,”this term is not used in 17:11.

So there is an ‘Elijah’ past John the Baptist. And Matthew 17:11 does NOT say that “All things” = God’s laws and all the true doctrinal teachings while WARNING His chosen people, Israel, of the Great Tribulation.

Herbert W. Armstrong never claimed to have restored ALL THINGS (Mark 9:12). Neither did he nor the Bible define ALL THINGS as Don Billingsley has.

Don Billingsley’ ad also asks, “What would anyone else do that he has not already done?”

Well, anything that was lost obviously is something that was not commonly known.

Furthermore, has Don Billingsley ever read any errors that Herbert Armstrong wrote?

Well, various of those need to be corrected and the truth restored.

Presuming Jesus will return within the next couple of decades, then that ‘Elijah’ would need to be alive now. And he would be part of the church that places the highest priority on the truth.

Yet, most Christians seemingly refuse to accept that.

Since the Bible does teach that there will be an ‘Elijah’ who is alive right before Jesus returns (Malachi 4:5-6), thus it is not possible that Herbert W. Armstrong was the prophesied final Elijah.

We in the Continuing Church of God are regularly restoring more truth about church history, doctrine, and prophecy. And we have done this more, by far, than any other group in the 21st century (COG or otherwise for that matter).

Was that supposed to happen?


Notice something that Daniel wrote:

4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” (Daniel 12:4)

Consider also the admonition of the Apostle Peter:

18 … grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)

Also consider that any who have already died are not relevant regarding all things to be restored just before the Day of the Lord–only one alive then (who would also be alive now) can possibly fulfill the Elijah role to increase knowledge and restore all things. It is not that others cannot add to knowledge, but what was to be restored in the end has to come from someone who is a real follower of God who is alive at the end. Growth of Christian knowledge did not end by January 16, 1986.

Consider also that the Bible indicates that it is likely that the ‘Elijah’ will be one of the two witnesses.

In the old Radio Church of God, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

The Two Witnesses

Who are, or will be, these witnesses? …

1st, they “prophesy” or preach a final warning to the world during “1260 days.” …

2nd, at the END of their testimony…it is “the BEAST THAT ASCENDED OUT OF THE BOTTOMLESS PIT” which kills them. …

3rd, after their testimony is ended, and they have been killed and resurrected, it says in verse 14 “the second woe is past.” …

They do the works of Moses and Elijah. …

John the Baptist was NOT Elijah as he plainly said, yet he came in the power and spirit of Elijah, and in that sense he wau Elijah. Compare John 1:22, Mat. 11:14, and the explanation in Luke 1:17. So it is likely the two witnesses will be two men who come in the power and spirit of Elijah and Moses or Enoch. (Armstrong HW. What is going to happen! Plain Truth, June-July 1934, p. 7)

Herbert Armstrong gave a speech in May 1967, in which he said the following:

“Verse 3: God will empower His two ‘witnesses’ to proclaim God’s truth for this three-and-one-half years, from the same city of Jerusalem. These two have the same powers that God had given to Moses and Elijah. That is why this Führer and his armies can not stop them. So they will be two men coming ‘in the power and spirit’ of Moses and Elijah – just as John the Baptist came in the ‘power and spirit’ of Elijah, though he was not Elijah.

“Now notice particularly verses 9 and 10: Evidently they shall not be merely speaking to a few people on a street corner – but broadcasting WORLDWIDE! (Armstrong HW. Personal from the Editor. Plain Truth, June 1967, p. 4).

Verse 3, that Herbert Armstrong alluded to, specifically states that the two witnesses will prophesy, as they are prophets. He later said he was NOT a prophet (Armstrong H. Personal from the Editor, The 19 Year Time Cycles. The Good News of Tomorrow’s World. February, 1972, p. 1).

When Herbert W. Armstrong was directing it, the old Worldwide Church of God (WCG) taught:

These two witnesses are two human beings who are given extraordinary power for 3 1/2 years just prior to Christ’s return (verse 3). If any man attempts to hurt them before their ministry is up, “…fire proceeds out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies” (verse 5). Note how similar this is to the power given to Elijah (II Kings 1:9-15). They also have power over the rainfall, to produce drought and famine as did Elijah (Luke 4:25; I Kings 17:1-7), and to smite the earth with plagues (Rev. 11:6). Their mission will be to give one final warning (Armstrong HW, editor. The Plain Truth Personal Correspondence Department response on the two witnesses to Mr. and Mrs. Thiel. September 13, 1984).

Herbert Armstrong was NOT one of the two witnesses.

Now, as Jesus is likely to return within the next couple of decades, it is reasonable to consider that the witnesses, including the one who is the Elijah would be alive today.

The problem is that just as many would not hear Elijah’s nor John the Baptist’s messages, relatively few will pay much attention to the end time Elijah as well.

That is not a surprise as most Christians in the end times were to be Laodicean, and Jesus warned the Laodiceans since they would not ‘get with the program,’ that they would be punished (Revelation 3:14-18).

Of course, if you are willing to believe the truth and do what the Bible teaches, that does not have to include you.

Some items of possibly related interest may include:

The Elijah Heresies Does the Bible teach that there will be a future Elijah? Must it be Herbert W. Armstrong? Two related sermons are available Elijah: Prophecies and Heresies and Elijah, Herbert W. Armstrong, and CCOG.
Elijah: Past and Prophesied Information about the original Elijah and some information about the Elijah-related prophecies.
The 18 Restored Truths: Do You Know What the First Changes the Tkach Administration Made? Some have said healing, others other subjects, but probably the first change had to do with eliminating being part of the Philadelphia era. This article documents what those changes were and compares the Tkach list of restored truths to Herbert W. Armstrong’s list of restored truths as well as his Autobiography. This article contains many quotes from Herbert W. Armstrong. Here are links to a related two-part sermon: The 18 Restored Truths: 1-8 and The 18 Restored Truths: 9-18.
How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God There are many false prophets, yet many overlook what the Bible teaches about how to recognize a true one. How can Christians determine who is a true prophet? This article contains a scripture-based checklist to assist with this determination.
How to determine if someone is a true prophet of God This is a sermon on YouTube addressing a subject that most in the Church of God do not seem to have looked into very much. It discusses scriptures and dispels some improper assertions that some associated with the COG have made about prophets in this time.
Why Be Concerned About False and Heretical Leaders? There have been many false leaders–here is some of why you should be concerned about them.
Who Are The Two Witnesses? What is their job? What does the Bible reveal? What has the Church of God taught on this subject? Might even Roman Catholic prophecies give some clues here?
The Final Phase of the Work What is the final phase of the work? Who will lead it? Do you have the courage to support it? Here is a related YouTube video titled The Final Phase of the Work. The written article has been translated into Spanish La Fase Final de la Obra.
Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. To see how CCOG has done so far, here is a sermon Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? Here is a written link to a version of that sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and has other Indian language translations of certain CCOG literature.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted towards Europe. It has materials in multiple European languages.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God and has articles in español/castellano.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.

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