Q: In Mal 1:1, was Malachi the prophet’s name, or was he calling himself a messenger?
A: Genuine Christians disagree.
1. The word "Malachi" can mean messenger, and it is used as "messenger" in Malachi 3:1. Unlike Zechariah, Abram, and other names, It is unknown as a personal name anywhere else.
2. Other names, such as David, are not known as names anywhere else, either. It might be a shortened form of "Malachijah" "Yahweh is my messenger" or similar. Malachi 3:1 likely was a play on words on Malachi’s name.
See An Exegetical Commentary : Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi p.389-390 for more info.
Q: In Mal 1:1, was Malachi written by an angel?
A: The word "Malachi" can mean messenger. In Greek, the word for messenger (angelos) also means angel. However, there is no evidence other than Malachi’s name to support thinking Malachi was an angel.
According to the Believer’s Bible Commentary, p.1173 some early church fathers thought this might be the case, However, I was unable to verify this in the Pre-Nicene church fathers. Looking through references to 1 Clement, To Diognetus, Justin Martyr, and Tertullian. Tertullian in An Answer to the Jews chapter 9 did say that many in the Old Testament were "angels" in the sense of being messengers. However, Tertullian never suggests they were anything other than ordinary human beings.
Q: In Mal 1:1, was Malachi’s job to uplift the despondent Jews, since the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah failed to pass, as Asimov’s Guide to the Bible p.670-671 claims?
A: No and no. Malachi 1-2 is not primarily to uplift the Jews. Rather, it is explanatory, showing that insincere worship is not worth much to God. Malachi 3 and 4 is both convicting and uplifting, as well as somewhat scary. In the New Testament, the Book of Revelation has a similar tone.
While the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah did not yet come to pass in the time of Malachi, both prior to Christ and now people recognized the prophecies as relating to the Messiah. Some of the prophecies, such as Zechariah 12-14 will be fulfilled during Christ’s second coming.
Q: In Mal 1:1-4, how did God love Jacob and hate Esau?
A: Three points to consider in the answer.
People, not a person: The context of this is stated to be the "land" (Malachi 1:3) and of a "wicked people" (Malachi 1:4). This was written long after Esau had died. When Critics Ask p.323 discusses this aspect more.
Degrees of love: As R.C. Sproul says in Now That’s A Good Question p.570, this is also a Jewish idiom called antithetical parallelism. This shows not hatred of Esau’s descendants, but the differential between the degree of love given to Jacob and withheld from Esau. See the discussion on Romans 9:13 for more info on God having "the right" to have a special love for some that He withholds from others. Hard Sayings of the Bible p.347-348 and Haley’s Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible p.97-98 also discuss this Hebrew idiom of "loving less".
Terms of a Treaty: Walt Kaiser in A History of Israel p.389-392 mentions that these words, "love" and "hate" have been found in treaties of this time. He gives three references of places where "love" and "hate" are used in suzerainty (pronounced SUZ-ren-ty) treaties to indicate "chosen" and "rejected". This is consistent with the Old Testament use of "covenant-love", which means only secondarily an emotion and primarily a choice.
Q: In Mal 1:4, why would God stop Esau’s descendants (the Edomites) from rebuilding?
A: This was part of the punishment of the nation of Edom.
Q: In Mal 1:6-8,12; 2:1, how do believers sometimes fail to honor God as they should?
A: They can fail to honor God in at least four ways.
Attitude: They can fail to be grateful, respectful, reverent, and they could doubt God’s providence. Believers can have a lack of love toward God and others.
Words: They could not honor in God what they say to others about Him. In addition to specifically saying bad things, they could have a casual tone that shows a lack of a reverent attitude.
Action: They might not be obedient and do things God does not want them to do. Romans 14:23 says that whatever is not done from faith is sin.
Inaction: believers can either not do the things God wants, or they can do things in a half-hearted manner. James 4:17 says that when some one knows what they should do and do not do it, that is sin.
Q: In Mal 1:10, why did God go so far here as to ask the Temple doors be shut?
A: God did not only ignore half-hearted and insincere worship and sacrifices, but those things were annoying to God.
Q: In Mal 1:11, why did Malachi mention the worship of Gentiles here?
A: Walt Kaiser, in Hard Sayings of the Old Testament p.348, points out that this was meant to startle.
1. The first Hebrew word can be translated "Yes, indeed!"
2. Malachi is saying this would happen with or without the obedience of the Jewish priests.
3. Not only would the Gentiles worship God, but sacrifices would be offered everywhere. All Jewish priests knew that sacrifices at that time were only to be offered in "their" temple.
Q: In Mal 1:13-14, when is worship a wearisome bore to God?
A: When it is artificial, half-hearted, or hypocritical, worship is not only boring to the people pretending to worship, it can be boring to God, too.
Q: In Mal 2:3, how could God corrupt their seed?
A: There are three ways.
Crops: God could cause the farmers’ seed to not grow well, since they did not pay proper attention to God.
Children: God could cause their children to die, as God had David and Bathsheba’s first son die in 2 Samuel 12:14,18.
In general, God could cause the fruit of the labors to come to nothing, before their very eyes.
Q: In Mal 2:6, how did Levi walk with God in truth and peace, since Levi and Simeon deceived a whole town and killed them in Gen 34:25?
A: Two points to consider in the answer.
Forgiveness: When God forgives some one, He forgives them completely and counts their sin as if it was never committed. That is why not only Levi, but others like David are considered righteous by God, not because they did not sin, but because God made them righteous after they sinned by forgiving their sin and cleansing them.
Life: No one who is a child of God continues in sin, as 1 John 3:6-9 says.
Q: In Mal 2:8, how do lying priests and ministers cause others to stumble?
A: Hypocritical ministers and priests affect others by falsely indicating that truth and obedience are not important to God. After all, they are priests and they get away with it. - at least until they are judged.
In addition, people who put their trust in the priests instead of God, will stumble when they see the priest fall.
Q: In Mal 2:8, do we have a good excuse to stumble when we see lying priests or ministers?
A: No. Early Christians had as many excuses as we have today, there were no good excuses for them either.
Judas Iscariot was one of the twelve disciples, yet he was a thief in John 12:6. Judas, like the others, could cast out demons and preached the Gospel, in Matthew 10:1,7-8.
Jezebel led many astray in Revelation 2:20-23.
Diotrephes was a church leader who refused to recognize John’s authority in 3 John 9-10.
False apostles did not recognize Paul’s authority in 2 Corinthians 11:5-7.
Even Peter was hypocritical toward Gentiles when Paul opposed him in Galatians 2:11-16.
Even Paul and Barnabas, missionaries who loved the Lord, clashed over having Mark accompany them in Acts 15:36-41. (Though they apparently later made up, as 2 Timothy 4:11 shows.)
However, people like these should not stumble our faith, if your faith, hope, and instruction are based on God, not people. False teachers are always present, but we are to pay no attention to them (2 Timothy 3:5), and we are to keep away from the idle (2 Thessalonians 3:6) and those who reject the apostles’ teaching (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). As for people who were preaching the true gospel insincerely, out of envy and strife, and stirring up trouble for Paul, Paul said to rejoice because they were preaching the true Gospel in Philippians 1:15-18.
Q: In Mal 2:9, why was it poetic justice that God made the corrupt priests contemptible in the eyes of others?
A: The corrupt priests caused God’s name to be dishonored before others, so it was fitting that others should hold the priests in dishonor. The corrupt priests caused others to stumble, and if they eventually were held in contempt, then others would not pay attention to them and stumble more.
Q: In Mal 2:10, how is God our Father here?
A: God is our Father in more than one sense. However, Malachi 2:10 mentions God as Creator, so it is likely referring to God as the Creator of all people.
While "Father" could refer to Jacob as the ancestor of the Jews, it more likely refers to our Creator.
Q: In Mal 2:11, how did some men marry the daughter of a strange god?
A: This poetic expression means the men married women who worshipped idols.
Q: In Mal 2:14-16, should Jews back then not divorce their wives, or divorce their pagan wives as Ezra 10:11-44 implies?
A: Malachi is speaking of Jewish men divorcing their Jewish wives and marrying pagan wives. See
An Exegetical Commentary : Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi by Eugene H. Merrill p.422-423.
Q: In Mal 2:15, what is the correct translation here?
A: The NIV translates this as "Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring…." But in the footnote it gives as an alternate "But the one who is our father did not do this, not as long as life remained in him. And what was he seeking? An offspring from God."
It refers to our father Abraham, according to An Exegetical Commentary : Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi by Eugene H. Merrill p.421.
Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties p.305-306 mentions that this is a difficult passage to translate since Hebrew has no case endings; the KJV translators cannot be criticized too harshly for making a mistake here.
Q: In Mal 2:16 (KJV), what does "putting away" mean here?
A: This obscure King James Version expression means to divorce.
Q: In Mal 2:16, why does God hate divorce?
A: Malachi 2 implies that the reason is that God intended for the two to become [and remain] as one. There is often a great heartbreak among adults during a divorce. How much more difficult it can be for the children. 1 Corinthians 7:14 mentions the children as part of the reason a woman should stay married to even an unbelieving husband.
See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.349-350 for more info.
Q: In Mal 2:17, how do some people’s words weary God?
A: Some prayers God answers as "no", because they are not good for us or others. However, other prayers, God has said He will not answer at all, and these apparently are merely wearisome to God. There are at least fourteen reasons God does not answer prayer.
Sometimes people do not get what they pray for because of at least twelve reasons.
1. Not for spending on our passions. James 4:3
2. Requests must be for good things. Matthew 7:11
3. It is not God’s will to have them. Mark 14:36
4. He hears, but we have to wait. Daniel 10:12-14
5. Our prayers are simply vain repetition. Matthew 6:7
6. Yet we have to [meaningfully] persist. Luke 11:5-10, 18:1-7
7. We cherish sin in our hearts. Psalms 66:18-19, or are wicked Proverbs 15:29. God does not hear us when we choose not to hear God. Zechariah 7:11-14.
8. We need self-control, 1 Peter 4:7, or are double-minded. James 1:7,8
9. We have sinned, such as divorce. Malachi 2:13-14
10. We ignore God and His law. Zechariah 7:13; Proverbs 28:9
11. We ignore the cry of the poor. Proverbs 21:13
12. We are inconsiderate of our wives. 1 Peter 3:7
13. God will not hear if they are still worshipping idols Ezekiel 8:8-18
14. Their hands are filled with blood. Isaiah 1:15
Q: In Mal 3:1-3, who are the messengers here?
A: The first messenger is John the Baptist, as shown by Matthew 11:10 and Luke 7:27. Irenaeus (wrote 182-188 A.D.) in Against Heresies book 3 chapter 11 also says this was John the Baptist. After the Lord is mentioned, the messenger of the covenant here is Jesus Christ according to the New Geneva Study Bible p.1492.
Q: In Mal 3:1, was Jesus Christ an angel?
A: No, not in the normally understood meaning. Jesus was God’s messenger. In the broadest sense, since an angel is a messenger, one could say Jesus performed the role of a messenger/angel. However, in the regular sense, Jesus is not an angel according to Hebrews 1:5,6, and Hebrews 2:16-17 shows Jesus took a human nature as opposed to an angelic one. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.64 for more info.
Q: Does Mal 3:6, show that God will always communicate with new revelation and scripture, as some Mormons claim?
A: According to When Cultists Ask p.90 Mormons such as Van Gordon claim that since God does not change, and God once used revelation and new scripture, God always has to do so.
Logically, one should not confuse God’s methods, which can change, from God Himself, who is changeless.
One key attribute of God is that He does not lie (Numbers 23:19), and God does not contradict Himself. Now some Mormon prophets have given some very strange teaching. For example, Brigham Young preached that "Adam is our god and Father, the only God with whom we have to do (Journal of Discourses volume 1 p.50-51). One should not try to justify strange teachings, including Brigham Young’s, by hiding behind the idea that God has to change.
Q: In Mal 3:8-10, how can people rob the all-knowing, all-powerful God?
A: Obviously, God would not be "robbed" of the praise, honor, and offering He is due unless He allowed Himself to be, by giving us the freedom to chose to do so.
However, God is not mocked, and in the end, nobody will get away with anything.
Q: In Mal 3:10, should believers tithe the money today?
A: Since Christ’s death and resurrection, Christians are led by the Spirit, not by law (Galatians 5:18). See also Colossians 2:14, so we do not have a "rule" that we have to give exactly ten percent. However, since we have dedicated our lives to Christ, many Christians give more than ten percent, not to follow a rule, but out of love and gratitude for Christ. See Now That’s A Good Question p.436-438 for more info.
Q: Does Mal 3:10 teach that tithing will always pay off for us financially in this life?
A: No. We might end up as materially wealthy as Jesus, Paul, and the rest of the apostles. None of them had any material wealth of which to speak. See Hard Sayings of the Bible p.351-352 for a more extensive answer.
Q: In Mal 3:14, why do some think it is useless to serve God?
A: From an earthly standpoint, many times it is financially foolish and physically dangerous to serve God. Yet, 1 Corinthians 1:18-26 says that God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world. From an eternal perspective, serving God is the wisest long-term investment in the future one can make.
A second point is that it is useless to serve God half-heartedly. As James 1:6-8 says, the double-minded will not receive anything from the Lord.
Q: Do Mal 4:1 and Am 2:9 teach annihilation as some Seventh-Day Adventists say?
A: No. When Malachi 4:1 says the wicked will be burned up as stubble with neither root nor branch. No branches means no descendants, and no root means destroyed such that they can never grow again. See 1001 Bible Questions Answered p.153 for more info.
Q: In Mal 4:2, how does the sun of righteousness rise with healing in his wings?
A: There are two applications of this beautiful poetic expression.
Individually, God would forgive them of their sins, and heal them of their unrighteousness.
Corporately, when God’s people turn to Him, God would heal their land, as God promised in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Q: In Mal 4:3, when and how do believers tread down the wicked?
A: Jude 14-15 says that when Christ comes again in triumph, holy ones will follow after him. However, neither Malachi 4:3 nor Jude say that believers will kill anyone. Malachi 4:3 simply says that we will tread on their ashes.
Q: In Mal 4:5-6, who is this Elijah?
A: This is John the Baptist, according to Jesus in Matthew 11:14 and Matthew 17:12-13.
Q: In Mal 4:5-6, how were the children turned to their fathers and fathers turned to their children?
A: This occurred when many people repented after hearing the message of John the Baptist. People turned back to the ways for their godly forefathers, and they taught their children to do so.
Unfortunately, everyone did not listen to John the Baptist, as Luke 7:29-35 shows.
Q: Does Mal 4:5-6 refer to baptism for the dead, as Mormon president James Talmadge claimed in The Vitality of Mormonism, 71?
A: No, for three reasons.
1. This verse does not refer to baptism, to the dead, or any sacrament or ordinance. Rather, it refers to John the Baptist serving as a forerunner to Jesus, turning the people back to God.
2. Neither Mormons nor others have found any evidence of baptism for the dead in history, until a false religious group called the Serinthians practiced this in Corinth in Paul’s day.
3. It is hard to believe that even Mormons would consider this a baptism for the dead. To Mormons baptism for the dead is a secret ceremony, that only Temple Mormons may view. John was doing this in the open, and skeptical Pharisees and scribes were coming and going while John was baptizing.
See When Cultists Ask p.91-92 for more info.
Q: In Mal, what are some of the earliest manuscripts that still exist today?
A: Dead Sea scrolls: (c.1 B.C.) There are 2 copies of the 12 prophets among the Dead Sea scrolls, called 4Q76 (=4QXIIa) and 4Q78 (=4QXIIc). (The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated p.478-479)
4Q76 contains Malachi 2:10-17; 3:1-24
4Q78 contains Malachi 3:6-7?
The Nahal Hever scroll and the wadi Murabb'at scroll apparently do not contain Malachi.
Christian Bible manuscripts, from about 350 A.D., contain the Old Testament, including Malachi. Two of these are Vaticanus (325-250 A.D.) and Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.), where the books of the twelve minor prophets were placed before Isaiah. Malachi is complete in both Vaticanus and Alexandrinus.
Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) also has the entire book of Malachi.
Q: Who are some of the early writers who referred to Malachi?
A: Pre-Nicene writers who referenced or alluded to verses in Malachi are:
Clement of Rome (97/98 A.D.) chapter 24 quotes half of Malachi 3:1
Letter to Diognetus chapter 7 quotes Malachi 3:2.
Justin Martyr (wrote about 138-165 A.D.) quoted Malachi 1:10, etc in Dialogue with Trypho the Jew chapters 28, 41.
Justin Martyr in Dialogue with Trypho chapter 49 mentions Elijah coming before the great and terrible day of the Lord, and incorrectly ascribes this to Zechariah.
Theophilus of Antioch (168-181/188 A.D.)
Irenaeus of Lyons (182-188 A.D.) in Against Heresies Book 4 chapter 10 quotes Malachi 3:10.
Tertullian (200-240 A.D.) in On the Resurrection of the Flesh chapter 31 says that Malachi 4:2-3 was by Malachi.
Clement of Alexandria (193-217/220 A.D.)
Hippolytus (225-235/6 A.D.)
Origen (225-254 A.D.)
Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage from 248 to his martyrdom in 258 A.D.. He quotes from "Malachi" in Treatise 12 The Third Book 3.
Methodius of Olympus and Patara (260-312 A.D.)
Alexander of Alexandria (313-326 A.D.)
Lactantius (315-325/330 A.D.)
Q: In Mal, what are some of the translation differences between the Hebrew and Greek Septuagint?
A: Here is an example from chapter 1, of the differences between the Hebrew Massoretic text and the Greek Septuagint unless otherwise noted.
Mal 1:1 Malachi’s name as "my messenger" vs. "his messenger"
Mal 1:1 add "lay it, I pray you, to heart."
Mal 1:3 "made his mountains a desolation, and his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness." vs. "laid waste his borders, and made his heritage as dwellings of the wilderness."
Mal 1:4 "region of wickedness" vs. "borders of wickedness"
Mal 1:5 "beyond the border" vs. "upon the borders"
Mal 1:7 "defiled you" vs. "polluted it"
Mal 1:7 "the table of LORD, it is to be despised". vs. "The table of the LORD is polluted, and that which was set thereon you have despised."
Mal 1:10 "who is even among you that will shut the doors, and you not kindle fire on My altar in vain!" vs. "Because even among you the doors shall be shut, and one will not kindle the fire of mine altar for nothing"
Mal 1:11 "For from the east to the west, My name shall be great among the nations, and everywhere incense shall be offered to My name; and a pure food offering. For My name shall be great among the nations, says Jehovah of hosts." vs. "For from the rising of the sun even to the going down thereof my name has been glorified among the Gentiles’ and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering: for my name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty." (Septuagint) vs. "from the rising sun unto the setting my Name has been made famous among all the nations, says the Lord Almighty: and in every place they offer clean sacrifice to my Name" (Tertullian (200-240 A.D.) An answer to the Jews chapter 5, and Against Marcion Book 3 chapter 22 and Book 4 chapter 2)
Mal 1:12 "and its fruit, His food" vs. "and its food"
Mal 1:13 "plunder" vs. "torn victims"
Mal 1:13 "and you bring" vs. "if then you bring"
Mat 1:14 "but cursed be a deceiver" vs. "cursed is the man who had the power"
Mal 1:14 "my name is to be feared" vs. "my name is to be glorious"
Mal 2:3 "and he shall bear you to it" vs. "and I will put you out of my presence" (Septuagint, Syriac)
Mal 2:12 "to arouse or answer" vs. "to witness or answer"
Mal 3:1 "clear the way" vs. "survey the way"
Mal 4:2-3 "…And you shall go out and frisk like calves of the stall. And you shall tread under the wicked …" vs. "…and ye shall go forth, and bound as young calves let loose from bonds. And ye shall trample the wicked;" (Septuagint) vs. "Ye shall go forth," (says Malachi), "from your sepulchers, as young calves let loose from their bonds, and ye shall tread down your enemies." (Tertullian (200-240 A.D.) in On the Resurrection of the Flesh chapter 31). See also Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (written about 138-165 A.D.) chapter 117, and Irenaeus (wrote 182-188 A.D.) Against Heresies Book 4 chapter 17.
Mal 2:3 "He will carry you unto it" vs. "I will carry you away from beside me" (Septuagint and Syriac)
Mal 2:12 "awake" vs. "unto/until"
Note that in the Hebrew Bible, what Christians call Malachi 4:1-6 is considered Malachi 3:19-24 by Jews.
Mal 3:1 "clear the way" vs. "survey the way"
Bibliography for this question: the Hebrew translation is from Jay P. Green’s Literal Translation and the Septuagint rendering is from Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton’s translation of The Septuagint : Greek and English. The Expositor's Bible Commentary, An Exegetical Commentary, and the footnotes in the NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NRSV Bibles also were used.
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