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Book of Malachi


Author and Date


The book is ascribed to Malachi, whose name means "my messenger." Since the term occurs in , and since both prophets and priests were called messengers of the Lord (see ; ), some have thought "Malachi" to be only a title that tradition has given the author. The view has been supported by appeal to the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT (the Septuagint), which translates the term in "his messenger" rather than as a proper noun. The matter, however, remains uncertain, and it is still very likely that Malachi was in fact the author's name.


The similarity between the sins denounced in Nehemiah and those denounced in Malachi suggests that the two leaders were contemporaries. Malachi may have been written after Nehemiah returned to Persia in 433 b.c. or during his second period as governor. Since the governor mentioned in probably was not Nehemiah, the first alternative may be more likely. Malachi was moslikely the last prophet of the OT era (though some place Joel later).

Theological Theme and Message
The theological message of the book can be summed up in one sentence: The Great King () will come not only to judge his people (; ) but also to bless and restore them (; ).

Although the Jews had been allowed to return from exile and rebuild the temple, several discouraging factors brought about a general religious malaise:

  1. Their land remained but a small province in the backwaters of the Persian empire,
  2. the glorious future announced by the prophets (including the other postexilic prophets, Haggai and Zechariah) had not (yet) been realized, and
  3. their God had not (yet) come to his temple () with majesty and power (as celebrated in ) to exalt his kingdom in the sight of the nations. Doubting God's covenant love () and no longer trusting his justice (; ), the Jews of the restored community began to lose hope. So their worship degenerated into a listless perpetuation of mere forms, and they no longer took the law seriously.

Malachi rebukes their doubt of God's love () and the faithlessness of both priests ( -- ) and people (). To their charge that God is unjust () because he has failed to come in judgment to exalt his people, Malachi answers with an announcement and a warning. The Lord they seek will come -- but he will come "like a refiner's fire" (). he will come to judge -- but he will judge his people first ().

Because the Lord does not change in his commitments and purpose, Israel has not been completely destroyed for her persistent unfaithfulness (). But only through repentance and reformation will she again experience God's blessing (). Those who honor the Lord will be spared when he comes to judge ().

In conclusion, Malachi once more reassures and warns his readers that "the day [?that great and dreadful day of the Lord,' ] s coming" and that "it will burn like a furnace" (). In that day the righteous will rejoice, and "you will trample down the wicked" ). So "remember the law of my servant Moses" (). To prepare his people or that day the Lord will send "the prophet Elijah" to call them back to the godly ways of their forefathers ().