The Minor Prophets: Malachi

The Minor Prophets Hosea


I. Historical background

    A. Around 450 B.C. (Coffman); 445-432 B.C. (Hailey); 460-425 B.C. (Waddey)
    B. “The time in which Malachi prophesied is determined by material within the book rather than from the opening lines of the book as has been true with earlier prophets. It is a time of careless priests (Mal. 1:6-2:9), skepticism (Mal. 3:14; 2:17), and of inter-marriage (Mal. 2:11-16). The temple is evidently completed and sacrifices are being offered (Mal. 1:7-10). Judah is under a governor (Mal. 1:8). Edom has been destroyed (Mal. 1:1-5).” (Lewis)
    C. “The book itself does not give the date of its writing. However, most scholars agree that the writer of the book dealt with much the same problems as were prevalent during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah….The Temple was rebuilt about 520-516 B.C. Then about 60 years later (around 456 B.C.) Ezra had come home from Babylon to Jerusalem to help encourage and reorganize the nation. Then, about 13 years later (around 444 B.C.), Nehemiah came to Jerusalem and directed the rebuilding of the wall. This seems to have been close to the time of the conditions and events described in Malachi. Thus it seems that the Jews had been home about 100 years in Malachi’s time.” (Warren)
    D. “For a full picture of the conditions in Judea during the period one should read Ezra 7-10 and the complete Book of Nehemiah.” (Hailey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “Nothing is known of the life of the author of this book. Some scholars even doubt that we know his name. They contend that since ‘Malachi,’ which is the Hebrew word for ‘my messenger,’ appears nowhere else as a proper name it should not be considered to be one in connection with this book.” (Warren)
    B. Some object to the supposed anonymity of the book, including Coffman and Hailey. “No other OT prophecy is anonymous, nor may we reasonably supposed Malachi to be an exception.” (Coffman)
    C. Malachi “might have meant My Angel or Messenger, or it may be taken as an adjective Angelicus. Either of these meaning would form a natural name for a Jewish child, and a very suitable one for a prophet.” (Smith)

III. Lessons for today

    A. God hates divorce (2:16)

      1. Hatred is a strong emotion, but it is applied to several specific sinful attitudes and actions (Proverbs 6:16-19; Deuteronomy 12:29-31)
      2. “Such a vigorous warning and exhortation from the Lord in a former decadent and permissive age should not be silenced; its principle should be heralded to the ends of the earth in our own time.” (Hailey)
      3. Single Christians should take great care in choosing a mate, since God’s intention for marriage is a life-long commitment (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:10-13)
      4. “Disregard for marriage vows is disastrous for the individual, society and the nation.” (Waddey)

    B. “God is never satisfied with partial, or incomplete, service.” (Woods)

      1. “Malachi teaches that although ritual may be important in religion, it is not an end in itself. Ritual is only of value when it expresses a deep and sincere spiritual worship unto God.” (Hailey)
      2. The people of Malachi’s day were not doing all that they should or could in giving back to God (1:8; 3:8-10; cf. Leviticus 22:18-20)
      3. “Notice that they were not robbing God in the sense that they were taking money, but they simply were not giving as they had been commanded!” (Warren)
      4. “Every spiritually minded person who ever lived instinctively accepted the principle that, to God one must give the very best….The reprobate priesthood of Malachi’s times were accepting the sick, the lame, and the blind, and doing many other things forbidden.” (Coffman)
      5. Does God expect more us to do or give than we are able? No, but neither should we underestimate how much we are able to do or give! (2 Corinthians 8:9-15)
      6. When we commit to something, we must be sure to follow through once we have the ability (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)

    C. Our attitude toward correction should be one of repentance (3:16)

      1. Malachi preached against the sins of the people, resulting in a change of heart and life in “those who feared the Lord”
      2. “Malachi foresees the repentance of some, though not all the people. They would speak with one another. No doubt their speaking would concern the need for repentance, for genuine worship. As always, the fear of Jehovah would prove the beginning of wisdom for Jehovah would hear and remember.” (Gill)
      3. Today, we must listen to the preaching of the Word, even when it is uncomfortable to hear (2 Timothy 4:2), and respond appropriately (James 1:21-25)

Coffman, James Burton. (1983). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 4: Zechariah and Malachi. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Smith, George Adam. (1906). The Book of Twelve Prophets, Vol. II. New York, NY: A.C. Armstrong and Son. [Online at]

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at]

Warren, Lindsey D. “The Living Message of Zechariah.”(1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Woods, Guy N. (1957). Adult Gospel Quarterly: January, February, March 1958. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company.

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