New English Translation
3 1 “I am about to send my messenger,[a] who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord[b] you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger[c] of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
2 Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can keep standing when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire,[d] like a launderer’s soap. 3 He will act like a refiner and purifier of silver and will cleanse the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will offer the Lord a proper offering. 4 The offerings[e] of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in former times and years past.
5 “I[f] will come to you in judgment. I will be quick to testify against those who practice divination; those who commit adultery; those who break promises;[g] and those who exploit workers, widows, and orphans,[h] who refuse to help[i] the resident foreigner[j] and in this way show they do not fear me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Resistance to the Lord through Selfishness
6 “Since, I, the Lord, do not go back on my promises,[k] you, sons of Jacob, have not perished. 7 From the days of your ancestors you have ignored[l] my commandments[m] and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “But you say, ‘How should we return?’ 8 Can a person rob[n] God? You are indeed robbing me, but you say, ‘How are we robbing you?’ In tithes and contributions![o] 9 You are bound for judgment[p] because you are robbing me—this whole nation is guilty.[q]
10 “Bring the entire tithe into the storehouse[r] so that there may be food in my temple. Test me in this matter,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “to see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out blessing for you until there is no room for it all. 11 Then I will stop the plague[s] from ruining your crops,[t] and the vine will not lose its fruit before harvest,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “All nations will call you blessed, for you indeed will live in[u] a delightful land,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Resistance to the Lord through Self-sufficiency
13 “You have criticized me sharply,”[v] says the Lord, “but you ask, ‘How have we criticized you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God. How have we been helped[w] by keeping his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord of Heaven’s Armies?[x] 15 So now we consider the arrogant to be blessed; indeed, those who practice evil are successful.[y] In fact, those who challenge[z] God escape!’”
16 Then those who respected[aa] the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord took notice.[ab] A scroll[ac] was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the Lord and honored his name. 17 “They will belong to me,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “in the day when I prepare my own special property.[ad] I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18 Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between[ae] the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not.
4 (3:19)[af] “For indeed the day[ag] is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant evildoers will be chaff. The coming day will burn them up,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “It[ah] will not leave them even a root or branch. 2 But for you who respect my name, the sun of vindication[ai] will rise with healing wings,[aj] and you will skip about[ak] like calves released from the stall. 3 You will trample on the wicked, for they will be like ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I am preparing,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Restoration through the Lord
4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, to whom at Horeb[al] I gave rules and regulations for all Israel to obey.[am] 5 Look, I will send you Elijah[an] the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord arrives. 6 He will encourage fathers and their children to return to me,[ao] so that I will not come and strike the earth with judgment.”[ap]
- Malachi 3:1 tn In Hebrew the phrase “my messenger” is מַלְאָכִי (malʾakhi), the same form as the prophet’s name (see note on the name “Malachi” in 1:1). However, here the messenger appears to be an eschatological figure who is about to appear, as the following context suggests. According to 4:5, this messenger is “Elijah the prophet,” whom the NT identifies as John the Baptist (Matt 11:10; Mark 1:2) because he came in the “spirit and power” of Elijah (Matt 11:14; 17:11-12; Lk 1:17).
- Malachi 3:1 tn Here the Hebrew term הָאָדוֹן (haʾadon) is used, not יְהוָה (yehvah, typically rendered Lord). Thus the focus is not on the Lord as the covenant God, but on his role as master.
- Malachi 3:1 sn This messenger of the covenant may be equated with my messenger (that is, Elijah) mentioned earlier in the verse, or with the Lord himself. In either case the messenger functions as an enforcer of the covenant. Note the following verses, which depict purifying judgment on a people that has violated the Lord’s covenant.
- Malachi 3:2 sn The refiner’s fire was used to purify metal and refine it by melting it and allowing the dross, which floated to the top, to be scooped off.
- Malachi 3:4 tn Or “gift.”
- Malachi 3:5 tn The first person pronoun (a reference to the Lord) indicates that the Lord himself now speaks (see also v. 1). The prophet speaks in vv. 2-4 (see also 2:17).
- Malachi 3:5 tn Heb “those who swear [oaths] falsely.” Cf. NIV “perjurers”; TEV “those who give false testimony”; NLT “liars.”
- Malachi 3:5 tn Heb “and against the oppressors of the worker for a wage, [the] widow and orphan.”
- Malachi 3:5 tn Heb “those who turn aside.”
- Malachi 3:5 sn Cf. Exod 22:21; Lev 19:33-34; Deut 10:18-19; 24:14, 17; 27:19; Jer 22:3; Zech 7:10.
- Malachi 3:6 tn Heb “do not change.” This refers to God’s ongoing commitment to his covenant promises to Israel.
- Malachi 3:7 tn Heb “turned aside from.”
- Malachi 3:7 tn Or “statutes” (so NAB, NASB, NRSV); NIV “decrees”; NLT “laws.”
- Malachi 3:8 tc The LXX presupposes an underlying Hebrew text of עָקַב (ʿaqav, “deceive”), a metathesis of קָבַע (qavaʿ, “rob”), in all four uses of the verb here (vv. 8-9). The intent probably is to soften the impact of “robbing” God, but the language of the passage is intentionally bold and there is no reason to go against the reading of the MT (which is followed here by most English versions).
- Malachi 3:8 sn The tithes and contributions mentioned here are probably those used to sustain the Levites (see Num 18:8, 11, 19, 21-24).
- Malachi 3:9 tn Heb “cursed with a curse” that is, “under a curse” (so NIV, NLT, CEV).
- Malachi 3:9 tn The phrase “is guilty” is not present in the Hebrew text but is implied, and has been supplied in the translation for clarification and stylistic reasons.
- Malachi 3:10 tn The Hebrew phrase בֵּית הָאוֹצָר (bet haʾotsar, here translated “storehouse”) refers to a kind of temple warehouse described more fully in Nehemiah (where the term לִשְׁכָּה גְדוֹלָה [lishkah gedolah, “great chamber”] is used) as a place for storing grain, frankincense, temple vessels, wine, and oil (Neh 13:5). Cf. TEV “to the Temple.”
- Malachi 3:11 tn Heb “the eater” (אֹכֵל, ʾokhel), a general term for any kind of threat to crops and livelihood. This is understood as a reference to a locust plague by a number of English versions: NAB, NRSV “the locust”; NIV “pests”; NCV, TEV “insects.”
- Malachi 3:11 tn Heb “and I will rebuke for you the eater and it will not ruin for you the fruit of the ground.”
- Malachi 3:12 tn Heb “will be” (so NAB, NRSV); TEV “your land will be a good place to live in.”
- Malachi 3:13 tn Heb “your words are hard [or “strong”] against me”; cf. NIV “said harsh things against me”; TEV, NLT “said terrible things about me.”
- Malachi 3:14 tn Heb “What [is the] profit”; NIV “What did we gain.”
- Malachi 3:14 sn The people’s public display of self-effacing piety has gone unrewarded by the Lord. The reason, of course, is that it was blatantly hypocritical.
- Malachi 3:15 tn Heb “built up” (so NASB); NIV, NRSV “prosper”; NLT “get rich.”
- Malachi 3:15 tn Or “test”; NRSV, CEV “put God to the test.”
- Malachi 3:16 tn Or “fear” (so NAB); NRSV “revered”; NCV “honored.”
- Malachi 3:16 tn Heb “heard and listened”; NAB “listened attentively.”
- Malachi 3:16 sn The scroll mentioned here is a “memory book” (סֵפֶר זִכָּרוֹן, sefer zikkaron) in which the Lord keeps an ongoing record of the names of all the redeemed (see Exod 32:32; Isa 4:3; Dan 12:1; Rev 20:12-15).
- Malachi 3:17 sn The Hebrew word סְגֻלָּה (segullah, “special property”) is a technical term referring to all the recipients of God’s redemptive grace, especially Israel (Exod 19:5; Deut 7:6; 14:2; 26:18). The Lord says here that he will not forget even one individual in the day of judgment and reward.
- Malachi 3:18 tn Heb “you will see between.” Cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT “see the difference.”
- Malachi 4:1 sn Beginning with 4:1, the verse numbers through 4:6 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 4:1 ET = 3:19 HT, 4:2 ET = 3:20 HT, etc., through 4:6 ET = 3:24 HT. Thus the book of Malachi in the Hebrew Bible has only three chapters, with 24 verses in ch. 3.
- Malachi 4:1 sn This day is the well-known “day of the Lord” so pervasive in OT eschatological texts (see Joel 2:30-31; Amos 5:18; Obad 15). For the believer it is a day of grace and salvation; for the sinner, a day of judgment and destruction.
- Malachi 4:1 tn Heb “so that it” (so NASB, NRSV). For stylistic reasons a new sentence was begun here in the translation.
- Malachi 4:2 tn Here the Hebrew word צְדָקָה (tsedaqah), usually translated “righteousness” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV, NLT; cf. NAB “justice”), has been rendered as “vindication” because it is the vindication of God’s people that is in view in the context. Cf. BDB 842 s.v. צְדָקָה 6; “righteousness as vindicated, justification, salvation, etc.”sn The expression the sun of vindication will rise is a metaphorical way of describing the day of the Lord as a time of restoration when God vindicates his people (see 2 Sam 23:4; Isa 30:26; 60:1, 3). Their vindication and restoration will be as obvious and undeniable as the bright light of the rising sun.
- Malachi 4:2 sn The point of the metaphor of healing wings is unclear. The sun seems to be compared to a bird. Perhaps the sun’s “wings” are its warm rays. “Healing” may refer to a reversal of the injury done by evildoers (see Mal 3:5).
- Malachi 4:2 tn Heb “you will go out and skip about.”
- Malachi 4:4 sn Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai (cf. Exod 3:1).
- Malachi 4:4 tn Heb “which I commanded him in Horeb concerning all Israel, statutes and ordinances.”
- Malachi 4:5 sn I will send you Elijah the prophet. In light of the ascension of Elijah to heaven without dying (2 Kgs 2:11), Judaism has always awaited his return as an aspect of the messianic age (see, e.g., John 1:19-28). Jesus identified John the Baptist as Elijah, because he came in the “spirit and power” of his prototype Elijah (Matt 11:14; 17:1-13; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36).
- Malachi 4:6 tn Heb “he will turn the heart[s] of [the] fathers to [the] sons, and the heart[s] of [the] sons to their fathers.” This may mean that the messenger will encourage reconciliation of conflicts within Jewish families in the postexilic community (see Mal 2:10; this interpretation is followed by most English versions). Another option is to translate, “he will turn the hearts of the fathers together with those of the children [to me], and the hearts of the children together with those of their fathers [to me].” In this case the prophet encourages both the younger and older generations of sinful society to repent and return to the Lord (cf. Mal 3:7). This option is preferred in the present translation; see Beth Glazier-McDonald, Malachi (SBLDS), 256.
- Malachi 4:6 tn Heb “[the] ban” (חֵרֶם, kherem). God’s prophetic messenger seeks to bring about salvation and restoration, thus avoiding the imposition of the covenant curse, that is, the divine ban that the hopelessly unrepentant must expect (see Deut 7:2; 20:17; Judg 1:21; Zech 14:11). If the wicked repent, the purifying judgment threatened in 4:1-3 will be unnecessary.