The prophecy of Malachi is speaking of the spirit of Elijah coming back to proclaim the manifestation of Christ, who will operate in signs and wonders and will put people to shame by his preaching to lead them to repentance.
Elijah will come to teach the saints that will warn of the coming of the Antichrist and how he’ll come. The way the “rapture theology” is taught today is exactly how the church will be deceived to believe that Christ will come in this way when it is the Antichrist coming to “rapture” those who are deceived. These demons will come as angels of light and with the sounds of trumpets will descend from heaven.
The Early church understood Elijah would bring teachings that incite shame, repentance and manifest the power of Yah but also warning of the coming of Antichrist and preparing the church at the same time. John the Apostle is presented to be here at the end of the age as well, according to the John 21:22 “Jesus said to him, ‘If I will that he remains till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.’”
Elijah will come before the first and second coming of Christ. Elijah will be the precursor to the second coming of the glorious return of Jesus Christ.
The church was against the idea of John the Baptist being the reincarnation of Elijah. This was disputed by the very scriptures that people have taken out of context. They understood that the purpose of the Spirit of Elijah returning was to prepare a people through the process of restoration so that they may be able to receive the glory of Christ and appear in a people. Elijah is to prepare a people who can endure the glory of God, without Elijah teaching us, we will not be able to endure the glory.
Elijah is a key figure in the Book of Revelations. The Early Church understood how important his role would be in preparing the church before the times of the Antichrist. Elijah would be the one to restore the church to be able to endure the persecution. Elijah is understood to be the angel (messenger) ascending from the East bearing the seal of God. He’s come to seal the church.