The Meaning of Zechariah 3:1 Explained

Zechariah 3:1

KJV: And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

YLT: And he sheweth me Joshua the high priest standing before the messenger of Jehovah, and the Adversary standing at his right hand, to be an adversary to him.

Darby: And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

ASV: And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary.

What does Zechariah 3:1 Mean?

Study Notes

Joshua
The fifth vision discloses:
(1) The change from self-righteousness to the righteousness of God of which Paul's experience, Philippians 3:1-9 is the illustration, as it is also the foreshadowing of the conversion of Israel.
(2) In type, the preparation of Israel for receiving Jehovah's "BRANCH" . The refusal of the Jews to abandon self-righteousness for the righteousness of God blinded them to the presence of the BRANCH in their midst at His first advent Romans 10:1-4 ; Romans 11:7 ; Romans 11:8 Cf. Zechariah 6:12-15 which speaks of the manifestation of the BRANCH in glory as the Priest-King, when Israel will receive Him. See Scofield " Hebrews 5:6 ".
angel
.
righteousness of God
The righteousness of God is neither an attribute of God, not the changed character of the believer, but Christ Himself, who fully met in our stead and behalf every demand of the law, and who is, but the act of God called imputation Leviticus 25:50 ; James 2:23 , "made unto us. . righteousness" 1 Corinthians 1:30 .
"The believer in Christ is now, by grace, shrouded under so complete and blessed a righteousness that the law from Mt. Sinai can find neither fault nor diminution therein. This is that which is called the righteousness of God by faith."--Bunyan.
2 Corinthians 5:21 ; Romans 4:6 ; Genesis 21:17-199 ; Philippians 3:9 ; Romans 3:26
branch
A name of Christ, used in fourfold way:
(1) "The Branch of Jehovah" ( Isaiah 4:2 ), that is, the "Immanuel" character of Christ Isaiah 7:14 to be fully manifested to restored and converted Israel after His return in divine glory Matthew 25:31 .
(2) the "Branch of David" Isaiah 11:1 ; Jeremiah 23:5 ; Jeremiah 33:15 that is, the Messiah, "of the seed of David according to the flesh" Romans 1:3 revealed in His earthly glory as King of kings, and Lord of lords;
(3) Jehovah's "Servant, the Branch" Zechariah 3:8 Messiah's humiliation and obedience unto death according to; Isaiah 52:13-15 ; Isaiah 53:1-12 ; Philippians 2:5-8 .
(4) the "man whose name is the Branch" Zechariah 6:12 ; Zechariah 6:13 that is His character as Son of man, the "last Adam," the "second Man" 1 Corinthians 15:45-47 reigning, as Priest-King, over the earth in the dominion given to and lost by the first Adam. Matthew is the Gospel of the "Branch of David"; Mark of "Jehovah's Servant, the Branch"; Luke of "the man whose name is the Branch"; John of "the Branch of Jehovah."
angels
Angel, Summary: Angel, "messenger," is used of God, of men, and of an order of created spiritual beings whose chief attributes are strength and wisdom. 2 Samuel 14:20 ; Psalms 103:20 ; Psalms 104:4 . In the O.T. the expression "the angel of the Lord" (sometimes "of God") usually implies the presence of Deity in angelic form.; Genesis 16:1-13 ; 1618164158_71 ; Genesis 22:11-16 ; Genesis 31:11-13 ; Exodus 3:2-4 ; Judges 2:1 ; Judges 6:12-16 ; Judges 13:3-22 (See Scofield " Malachi 3:1 ") . The word "angel" is used of men in; Luke 7:24 ; James 2:25 ; Revelation 1:20 ; Revelation 2:1 ; Revelation 2:8 ; Revelation 2:12 ; Revelation 2:18 ; Revelation 3:1 ; Revelation 3:7 ; Revelation 3:14 In Revelation 8:3-5 . Christ is evidently meant. Sometimes angel is used of the spirit of man.; Matthew 18:10 ; Acts 12:15 . Though angels are spirits; Psalms 104:4 ; Hebrews 1:14 power is given them to become visible in the semblance of human form. Genesis 19:1 cf; Genesis 19:5 ; Exodus 3:2 ; Numbers 22:22-31 ; Judges 2:1 ; Judges 6:11 ; Judges 6:22 ; Judges 13:3 ; Judges 13:6 ; 1 Chronicles 21:16 ; 1 Chronicles 21:20 ; Matthew 1:20 ; Luke 1:26 ; John 20:12 ; Acts 7:30 ; Acts 12:7 ; Acts 12:8 etc.). The word is always used in the masculine gender, though sex, in the human sense, is never ascribed to angels.; Matthew 22:30 ; Mark 12:25 . They are exceedingly numerous.; Matthew 26:53 ; Hebrews 12:22 ; Revelation 5:11 ; Psalms 68:17 . The power is inconceivable. 2 Kings 19:35 . Their place is about the throne of God.; Revelation 5:11 ; Revelation 7:11 . Their relation to the believer is that of "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," and this ministry has reference largely to the physical safety and well-being of believers.; 1 Kings 19:5 ; Psalms 34:7 ; Psalms 91:11 ; Daniel 6:22 ; Matthew 2:13 ; Matthew 2:19 ; Matthew 4:11 ; Luke 22:43 ; Acts 5:19 ; Acts 12:7-10 . From; Hebrews 1:14 ; Matthew 18:10 ; Psalms 91:11 it would seem that this care for the heirs of salvation begins in infancy and continues through life. The angels observe us; 1 Corinthians 4:9 ; Ephesians 3:10 ; Ecclesiastes 5:6 a fact which should influence conduct. They receive departing saints. Luke 16:22 . Man is made "a little lower than the angels," and in incarnation Christ took "for a little "time" this lower place.; Psalms 8:4 ; Psalms 8:5 ; Hebrews 2:6 ; Hebrews 2:9 that He might lift the believer into His own sphere above angels. Hebrews 2:9 ; Hebrews 2:10 . The angels are to accompany Christ in His second advent. Matthew 25:31 . To them will be committed the preparation of the judgment of the nations. Matthew 13:30 ; Matthew 13:39 ; Matthew 13:41 ; Matthew 13:42 . See Scofield " Matthew 25:32 ". The kingdom-age is not to be subject to angels, but to Christ and those for whom He was made a little lower than the angels. Hebrews 2:5 An archangel, Michael, is mentioned as having a particular relation to Israel and to the resurrections.; Daniel 10:13 ; Daniel 10:21 ; Daniel 12:1 ; Daniel 12:2 ; Judges 1:9 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 . The only other angel whose name is revealed Gabriel, was employed in the most distinguished services.; Daniel 8:16 ; Daniel 9:21 ; Luke 1:19 ; Luke 1:26 .
Fallen angels. Two classes of these are mentioned:
(1) "The angels which kept not their first estate place, but left their own habitation," are "chained under darkness," awaiting judgment. 2 Peter 2:4 ; Judges 1:6 ; 1 Corinthians 6:3 ; John 5:22 .
(See Scofield " Genesis 6:4 ")
(2) The angels who have Satan Genesis 3:1 as leader.
(See Scofield " Revelation 20:10 ") .
The origin of these is nowhere explicitly revealed. They may be identical with the demons.
(See Scofield " Matthew 7:22 ") . For Satan and his angels everlasting fire is prepared. Matthew 25:41 ; Revelation 20:10 .
angel
.
angels
Angel, Summary: Angel, "messenger," is used of God, of men, and of an order of created spiritual beings whose chief attributes are strength and wisdom. 2 Samuel 14:20 ; Psalms 103:20 ; Psalms 104:4 . In the O.T. the expression "the angel of the Lord" (sometimes "of God") usually implies the presence of Deity in angelic form.; Genesis 16:1-13 ; Genesis 21:17-19 ; Genesis 22:11-16 ; Genesis 31:11-13 ; Exodus 3:2-4 ; Judges 2:1 ; Judges 6:12-16 ; Judges 13:3-22 (See Scofield " Malachi 3:1 ") . The word "angel" is used of men in; Luke 7:24 ; James 2:25 ; Revelation 1:20 ; Revelation 2:1 ; Revelation 2:8 ; Revelation 2:12 ; Acts 12:7-10 ; Revelation 3:1 ; Revelation 3:7 ; Revelation 3:14 In Revelation 8:3-5 . Christ is evidently meant. Sometimes angel is used of the spirit of man.; Matthew 18:10 ; Acts 12:15 . Though angels are spirits; Psalms 104:4 ; Hebrews 1:14 power is given them to become visible in the semblance of human form. Genesis 19:1 cf; Genesis 19:5 ; Exodus 3:2 ; Numbers 22:22-31 ; Judges 2:1 ; Judges 6:11 ; Judges 6:22 ; Judges 13:3 ; Judges 13:6 ; 1 Chronicles 21:16 ; 1 Chronicles 21:20 ; Matthew 1:20 ; Luke 1:26 ; John 20:12 ; Acts 7:30 ; Acts 12:7 ; Acts 12:8 etc.). The word is always used in the masculine gender, though sex, in the human sense, is never ascribed to angels.; Matthew 22:30 ; Mark 12:25 . They are exceedingly numerous.; Matthew 26:53 ; Hebrews 12:22 ; Revelation 5:11 ; Psalms 68:17 . The power is inconceivable. 2 Kings 19:35 . Their place is about the throne of God.; Revelation 5:11 ; Revelation 7:11 . Their relation to the believer is that of "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation," and this ministry has reference largely to the physical safety and well-being of believers.; 1 Kings 19:5 ; Psalms 34:7 ; Psalms 91:11 ; Daniel 6:22 ; Matthew 2:13 ; Matthew 2:19 ; Matthew 4:11 ; Luke 22:43 ; Acts 5:19 ; Revelation 2:18 . From; Hebrews 1:14 ; Matthew 18:10 ; Psalms 91:11 it would seem that this care for the heirs of salvation begins in infancy and continues through life. The angels observe us; 1 Corinthians 4:9 ; Ephesians 3:10 ; Ecclesiastes 5:6 a fact which should influence conduct. They receive departing saints. Luke 16:22 . Man is made "a little lower than the angels," and in incarnation Christ took "for a little "time" this lower place.; Psalms 8:4 ; Psalms 8:5 ; Hebrews 2:6 ; Hebrews 2:9 that He might lift the believer into His own sphere above angels. Hebrews 2:9 ; Hebrews 2:10 . The angels are to accompany Christ in His second advent. Matthew 25:31 . To them will be committed the preparation of the judgment of the nations. Matthew 13:30 ; Matthew 13:39 ; Matthew 13:41 ; Matthew 13:42 . See Scofield " Matthew 25:32 ". The kingdom-age is not to be subject to angels, but to Christ and those for whom He was made a little lower than the angels. Hebrews 2:5 An archangel, Michael, is mentioned as having a particular relation to Israel and to the resurrections.; Daniel 10:13 ; Daniel 10:21 ; Daniel 12:1 ; Daniel 12:2 ; Judges 1:9 ; 1 Thessalonians 4:16 . The only other angel whose name is revealed Gabriel, was employed in the most distinguished services.; Daniel 8:16 ; Daniel 9:21 ; Luke 1:19 ; Luke 1:26 .
Fallen angels. Two classes of these are mentioned:
(1) "The angels which kept not their first estate place, but left their own habitation," are "chained under darkness," awaiting judgment. 2 Peter 2:4 ; Judges 1:6 ; 1 Corinthians 6:3 ; John 5:22 .
(See Scofield " Genesis 6:4 ")
(2) The angels who have Satan Genesis 3:1 as leader.
(See Scofield " Revelation 20:10 ") .
The origin of these is nowhere explicitly revealed. They may be identical with the demons.
(See Scofield " Matthew 7:22 ") . For Satan and his angels everlasting fire is prepared. Matthew 25:41 ; Revelation 20:10 .

Verse Meaning

Zechariah"s guiding angel next showed the prophet, in his vision, Joshua (lit. Yahweh saves), Israel"s current high priest ( Zechariah 6:11; Ezra 5:2; Nehemiah 7:7; Haggai 1:1), standing before the angel of the Lord ( Zechariah 1:11-12). "The accuser" (lit. "the Satan," Heb. hasatan) was standing at Joshua"s right hand prepared to accuse him before the angel of the Lord (cf. Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-7; Revelation 12:10). The writer made a play on the Hebrew word in its noun and verb forms here translated "Satan" and "accuse." [1] Standing at the right hand was the traditional place were an accuser stood in Jewish life (cf. 1 Chronicles 21:1; Psalm 109:6).
"The term satan, when used without the definite article, usually refers to a human adversary. The one exception is in Numbers 22:22; Numbers 22:32, where the angel of the Lord assumes the role of Balaam"s adversary. In 1 Chronicles 21:1, the term probably refers to a nearby nation, though some prefer to take the word in this context as a proper name, "Satan." When the term appears with the article, as it does here and in Job 1-2 , it is a title for a being who seems to serve as a prosecuting attorney in the heavenly court." [2]
". . . sin exposes the sinner to satanic attack not only in the case of unbelievers ( Matthew 12:43-45), but believers as well ( 1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 John 5:16)." [3]
Evidently the scene that Zechariah saw took place in the temple.
"The first three visions brought the prophet from a valley outside the city to a vantage-point from which the dimensions of the original Jerusalem could be seen. In the fourth and fifth visions he is in the Temple courts, where the high priest officiated and had access to God"s presence." [4]
"Joshua is standing in a tribunal, where he is being accused of unfitness for the priestly ministry." [5]
Another view is that he was not on trial but simply ministering to the Lord.

Context Summary

Zechariah 3:1-10 - Purified For God's Service
The regulation for the maintenance of the priesthood had fallen into disuse, and they had neither robes, vessels, nor proper provision of offerings. Probably also the spiritual life of the priests was at a very low ebb, Malachi 1:1-14; Malachi 2:1-17. Satan is always discovering the weak spots in character and thrusting at them. He is keen as steel and cruel as hell. But we have One who pleads. As the priest Melchizedek, He ever lives to make intercession for us. "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan."
We are as brands scorched and charred with the burning. But we have been plucked out of the consuming flame. Surely then we are being kept for some high and useful purpose. All the past is an argument for faith. That God has done so much is a pledge that He will perfect that which concerneth us, because His mercy endureth forever. It is not enough to be cleansed from sin, we need the miter of the divine anointing that we may have a place of access among the saints. Whom He justifies, He also glorifies. Let us be content with nothing short of God's best. [source]

Chapter Summary: Zechariah 3

1  Under the type of Joshua, the high priest, receiving clean garments,
6  and a covenant of promise,
8  Christ the Branch and Cornerstone is promised

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

And he showed me - Joshua the priest high standing before the Angel of Yahweh and Satan at his right hand to oppose him
וַיַּרְאֵ֗נִי אֶת־ יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙ הַכֹּהֵ֣ן הַגָּד֔וֹל עֹמֵ֕ד לִפְנֵ֖י מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהוָ֑ה וְהַשָּׂטָ֛ן עַל־ יְמִינ֖וֹ לְשִׂטְנֽוֹ

וַיַּרְאֵ֗נִי  And  he  showed  me 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Hifil, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular, first person common singular
Root: רָאָה 
Sense: to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider.
אֶת־  - 
Parse: Direct object marker
Root: אֹות 
Sense: sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative.
יְהוֹשֻׁ֙עַ֙  Joshua 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יְהֹושֻׁעַ  
Sense: son of Nun of the tribe of Ephraim and successor to Moses as the leader of the children of Israel; led the conquest of Canaan.
הַכֹּהֵ֣ן  the  priest 
Parse: Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: כֹּהֵן  
Sense: priest, principal officer or chief ruler.
הַגָּד֔וֹל  high 
Parse: Article, Adjective, masculine singular
Root: גָּבֹול 
Sense: great.
עֹמֵ֕ד  standing 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine singular
Root: עָמַד  
Sense: to stand, remain, endure, take one’s stand.
לִפְנֵ֖י  before 
Parse: Preposition-l, Noun, common plural construct
Root: לִפְנֵי 
Sense: face.
מַלְאַ֣ךְ  the  Angel 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: מַלְאָךְ  
Sense: messenger, representative.
יְהוָ֑ה  of  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
וְהַשָּׂטָ֛ן  and  Satan 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Article, Noun, masculine singular
Root: שָׂטָן  
Sense: adversary, one who withstands.
עַל־  at 
Parse: Preposition
Root: עַל 
Sense: upon, on the ground of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, concerning, beside, in addition to, together with, beyond, above, over, by, on to, towards, to, against.
יְמִינ֖וֹ  his  right  hand 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct, third person masculine singular
Root: יָמִין  
Sense: right, right hand, right side.
לְשִׂטְנֽוֹ  to  oppose  him 
Parse: Preposition-l, Verb, Qal, Infinitive construct, third person masculine singular
Root: שָׂטַן  
Sense: (Qal) to be or act as an adversary, resist, oppose.