The Meaning of Malachi 3:1 Explained

Malachi 3:1

KJV: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

YLT: Lo, I am sending My messenger, And he hath prepared a way before Me, And suddenly come in unto his temple Doth the Lord whom ye are seeking, Even the messenger of the covenant, Whom ye are desiring, Lo, he is coming, said Jehovah of Hosts.

Darby: Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord whom ye seek will suddenly come to his temple, and the Angel of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts.

ASV: Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts.

What does Malachi 3:1 Mean?

Study Notes

Lord
The f.c. of Malachi 3:1 is quoted of John the Baptist; Matthew 11:10 ; Mark 1:2 ; Luke 7:27 but the second clause, "the Lord whom ye see," etc., is nowhere quoted in the N.T. The reason is obvious: in everything save the fact of Christ's first advent, the latter clause awaits fulfilment Habakkuk 2:20 . Malachi 3:2-5 speak of judgment, not of grace. Malachi, in common with other O.T. prophets, saw both advents of Messiah blended in one horizon, but did not see the separating interval described in Matthew 13. consequent upon the rejection of the King Matthew 13:16 ; Matthew 13:17 . Still less was the Church-age in his vision; Ephesians 3:3-6 ; Colossians 1:25-27 . "My messenger" Malachi 3:1 is John the Baptist; the "messenger of the covenant" is Christ in both of His advents, but with especial reference to the events which are to follow His return.

Verse Meaning

The Lord"s response to the cynical Israelites was to point them to the future. He predicted the coming of His messenger (cf. Isaiah 40:3-5). There is no question about who this was because Jesus identified him as John the Baptist ( Matthew 11:10; cf. Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27). This future messenger would clear the way in preparation for Yahweh (cf. Isaiah 40:3; John 1:23). Clearly Jesus Christ is Yahweh since John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.
"Perhaps most intriguing of all the issues raised by the fourth disputation is its implicit identification of the "messenger of the covenant" as Yahweh himself. No other passage in the Old Testament so clearly assigns divine prerogatives and nomenclature to the figure of the Messiah (though the term masiah is not itself employed by Malachi). When one examines how this disputation describes the identity and actions of the "messenger of the covenant," one can only conclude that he is divine." [1]
Then the Lord, whom the Israelites were seeking, would suddenly come to His temple (cf. Ezekiel 43:1-5; Zechariah 8:3). Though Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem many times during His earthly ministry, this sudden coming was not fulfilled then (cf. Malachi 3:2-5). It will occur when He returns to set up His messianic kingdom.
"The fact that he will come suddenly is ominous, for suddenness was usually associated with a calamitous event (e.g. Isaiah 47:11; Isaiah 48:3; Jeremiah 4:20, etc.)." [2]
"The messenger of the covenant" is another name for the Lord who would come following the appearance of the first messenger promised in this verse. He would be the divine Messiah. "Messenger" means "angel," and the Angel of the Lord is in view here. The "covenant" is the New Covenant that God promised to make with the Jews in the future (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:22-36; Ezekiel 37:26). Another view is that the covenant in view is the Mosaic Covenant and, behind it, the Abrahamic Covenant. [3] The Jews delighted in this Messenger because His coming had been a subject of messianic prophecy and an object of eager anticipation from early in Israel"s history ( Genesis 3:15; pass.). Sovereign Yahweh promised His coming again here. The Jews had been expressing disbelief that God would intervene and establish justice in the world ( Malachi 2:17), but God promised He would.

Context Summary

Malachi 3:1-12 - A Purging From Evil
The opening verses of this chapter stir the heart like the call of a trumpet. We remember how literally they were fulfilled in the presentation of our Lord in the Temple by His parents. Unnoticed by the crowds, jostled amid the press, borne in the arms of poverty, the King suddenly came to His Temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant. Only two faithful retainers, Simeon and Anna, were there to welcome Him. But there is another and more personal reference. Let us keep the doors of our hearts wide open to the coming of the King. There may be no blare of trumpet, no flash of jewel, no cry of herald, but into your heart's secret shrine He will come. Is not this just what we need? Make haste, great Lord of all, and in our poor hearts do thy blessed work, that we may be refined as gold and silver, and offer to thee an offering in righteousness. Then will it be a delight to bring all the tithes into the storehouse. [source]

Chapter Summary: Malachi 3

1  Of the messenger, majesty, and grace of Christ
7  Of the rebellion,
8  sacrilege,
13  and infidelity of the people
16  The promise of blessing to those who fear God

What do the individual words in Malachi 3:1 mean?

behold I send My messenger and he will prepare the way before Me and suddenly will come to His temple the Lord whom you seek and Even the Messenger of the covenant in whom delight behold He is coming says Yahweh of hosts
הִנְנִ֤י שֹׁלֵחַ֙ מַלְאָכִ֔י וּפִנָּה־ דֶ֖רֶךְ לְפָנָ֑י וּפִתְאֹם֩ יָב֨וֹא אֶל־ הֵיכָל֜וֹ הָאָד֣וֹן ׀ אֲשֶׁר־ אַתֶּ֣ם מְבַקְשִׁ֗ים וּמַלְאַ֨ךְ הַבְּרִ֜ית אֲשֶׁר־ חֲפֵצִים֙ הִנֵּה־ בָ֔א אָמַ֖ר יְהוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת

הִנְנִ֤י  behold 
Parse: Interjection, first person common singular
Root: הֵן  
Sense: behold, lo, though hypothetical part.
שֹׁלֵחַ֙  I  send 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: שָׁלַח  
Sense: to send, send away, let go, stretch out.
מַלְאָכִ֔י  My  messenger 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct, first person common singular
Root: מַלְאָךְ  
Sense: messenger, representative.
וּפִנָּה־  and  he  will  prepare 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Piel, Conjunctive perfect, third person masculine singular
Root: פֹּונֶה 
Sense: to turn.
דֶ֖רֶךְ  the  way 
Parse: Noun, common singular
Root: דֶּרֶךְ  
Sense: way, road, distance, journey, manner.
לְפָנָ֑י  before  Me 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, masculine plural construct, first person common singular
Root: לִפְנֵי 
Sense: face.
וּפִתְאֹם֩  and  suddenly 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Adverb
Root: פִּתְאֹם  
Sense: suddenly, surprisingly subst.
יָב֨וֹא  will  come 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: בֹּוא 
Sense: to go in, enter, come, go, come in.
הֵיכָל֜וֹ  His  temple 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct, third person masculine singular
Root: הֵיכָל  
Sense: palace, temple, nave, sanctuary.
הָאָד֣וֹן ׀  the  Lord 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: אָדֹון  
Sense: firm, strong, lord, master.
אֲשֶׁר־  whom 
Parse: Pronoun, relative
Root: אֲשֶׁר 
Sense: (relative part.).
מְבַקְשִׁ֗ים  seek 
Parse: Verb, Piel, Participle, masculine plural
Root: בָּקַשׁ  
Sense: to seek, require, desire, exact, request.
וּמַלְאַ֨ךְ  and  Even  the  Messenger 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: מַלְאָךְ  
Sense: messenger, representative.
הַבְּרִ֜ית  of  the  covenant 
Parse: Article, Noun, feminine singular
Root: בְּרִית  
Sense: covenant, alliance, pledge.
אֲשֶׁר־  in  whom 
Parse: Pronoun, relative
Root: אֲשֶׁר 
Sense: (relative part.).
חֲפֵצִים֙  delight 
Parse: Adjective, masculine plural
Root: חָפֵץ  
Sense: desiring, delighting in, having pleasure in.
הִנֵּה־  behold 
Parse: Interjection
Root: הִנֵּה  
Sense: behold, lo, see, if.
בָ֔א  He  is  coming 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: בֹּוא 
Sense: to go in, enter, come, go, come in.
אָמַ֖ר  says 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person masculine singular
Root: אָמַר 
Sense: to say, speak, utter.
יְהוָ֥ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
צְבָאֽוֹת  of  hosts 
Parse: Noun, common plural
Root: צָבָא 
Sense: that which goes forth, army, war, warfare, host.