Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
SINS, AND TO
1. Behold--Calling especial attention to the momentous truths which
follow. Ye unbelievingly ask, Where is the God of judgment
"Behold," therefore, "I send," &c. Your unbelief will not prevent My
keeping My covenant, and bringing to pass in due time that which ye say
will never be fulfilled.
I will send . . . he shall come--The Father sends the Son:
the Son comes. Proving the distinctness of personality between the
Father and the Son.
my messenger--John the Baptist; as
Mt 3:3; 11:10;
Mr 1:2, 3;
Lu 1:76; 3:4; 7:26, 27;
prove. This passage of Malachi evidently rests on that of Isaiah his
Perhaps also, as HENGSTENBERG thinks, "messenger"
includes the long line of prophets headed by Elijah
(whence his name is put in
as a representative name), and terminating in John, the last and
greatest of the prophets
John as the representative prophet (the forerunner of Messiah the
representative God-man) gathered in himself all the scattered
lineaments of previous prophecy (hence Christ terms him "much more than
reproducing all its awful and yet inspiriting utterances: his coarse
garb, like that of the old prophets, being a visible exhortation to
repentance; the wilderness in which he preached symbolizing the
lifeless, barren state of the Jews at that time, politically and
spiritually; his topics sin, repentance, and salvation, presenting for
the last time the condensed epitome of all previous teachings of God by
His prophets; so that he is called pre-eminently God's "messenger."
Hence the oldest and true reading of
is, "as it is written in Isaiah the prophet"; the difficulty of
which is, How can the prophecy of Malachi be referred to Isaiah? The
explanation is: the passage in Malachi rests on that in
and therefore the original source of the prophecy is referred to
in order to mark this dependency and connection.
the Lord--Ha-Adon in Hebrew. The article marks that it is
(Ex 23:17; 34:23;
Jos 3:11, 13).
where the Divine Son is meant by "for THE
Lord's sake." God the speaker makes "the Lord," the "messenger
of the covenant," one with Himself. "I will send . . . before
Me," adding, "THE LORD
. . . shall . . . come"; so that "the Lord"
must be one with the "Me," that is, He must be GOD, "before" whom John was sent. As the divinity
of the Son and His oneness with the Father are thus proved, so the
distinctness of personality is proved by "I send" and He "shall come,"
as distinguished from one another. He also comes to the temple as "His
temple": marking His divine lordship over it, as contrasted with
all creatures, who are but "servants in" it
Heb 3:2, 5, 6).
whom ye seek . . . whom ye delight
At His first coming they "sought" and "delighted in" the hope of a
temporal Saviour: not in what He then was. In the case of those
whom Malachi in his time addresses, "whom ye seek . . .
delight in," is ironical. They unbelievingly asked, When will He come
"Where is the God of judgment"
2Pe 3:3, 4)?
In the case of the godly, the desire for Messiah was sincere
(Lu 2:25, 28).
He is called "Angel of God's presence"
also Angel of Jehovah. Compare His appearances to Abraham
(Ge 18:1, 2, 17, 33),
(Ge 31:11; 48:15, 16),
to Moses in the bush
He went before Israel as the Shekinah
and delivered the law at Sinai
suddenly--This epithet marks the second coming, rather than the first;
the earnest of that unexpected coming
to judgment was given in the judicial expulsion of the money-changing
profaners from the temple by Messiah
(Mt 21:12, 13),
where also as here He calls the temple His temple. Also in the
destruction of Jerusalem, most unexpected by the Jews, who to the last
deceived themselves with the expectation that Messiah would suddenly
appear as a temporal Saviour. Compare the use of "suddenly" in
where He appeared in wrath.
messenger of the covenant--namely, of the ancient covenant with Israel
and Abraham, in which the promise to the Gentiles is ultimately
(Ga 4:16, 17).
The gospel at the first advent began with Israel, then embraced the
Gentile world: so also it shall be at the second advent. All the
manifestations of God in the Old Testament, the Shekinah and human
appearances, were made in the person of the Divine Son
(Ex 23:20, 21;
Heb 11:26; 12:26).
He was the messenger of the old covenant, as well as of the new.
Re 6:16, 17).
The Messiah would come, not, as they expected, to flatter the
theocratic nation's prejudices, but to subject their principles to the
fiery test of His heart-searching truth
and to destroy Jerusalem and the theocracy after they had rejected Him.
His mission is here regarded as a whole from the first to the second
advent: the process of refining and separating the godly from the
ungodly beginning during Christ's stay on earth, going on ever since,
and about to continue till the final separation
The refining process, whereby a third of the Jews is refined as silver
of its dross, while two-thirds perish, is described,
Zec 13:8, 9
3. sit--The purifier sits before the crucible, fixing his
eye on the metal, and taking care that the fire be not too hot, and
keeping the metal in, only until he knows the dross to be completely
removed by his seeing his own image reflected
in the glowing mass. So the Lord in the case of His elect
He will sit down to the work, not perfunctorily, but with
patient love and unflinching justice. The Angel of the Covenant, as in
leading His people out of Egypt by the pillar of cloud and fire, has an
aspect of terror to His foes, of love to His friends. The same
separating process goes on in the world as in each Christian. When the
godly are completely separated from the ungodly, the world will end.
When the dross is taken from the gold of the Christian, he will be for
ever delivered from the furnace of trial. The purer the gold, the
hotter the fire now; the whiter the garment, the harder the washing
purify . . . sons of Levi--of the sins specified above. The very
Levites, the ministers of God, then needed cleansing, so universal was
that they may offer . . . in righteousness--as originally
not as latterly
So believers, the spiritual priesthood
4. as in the days of old--
(Mal 1:11; 2:5, 6).
The "offering" (Mincha, Hebrew) is not expiatory, but prayer,
thanksgiving, and self-dedication
5. I . . . come near . . . to
judgment--I whom ye challenged, saying, "Where is the God of
I whom ye think far off, and to be slow in judgment, am "near," and
will come as a "swift witness"; not only a judge, but also an
eye-witness against sorcerers; for Mine eyes see every sin,
though ye think I take no heed. Earthly judges need witnesses to
enable them to decide aright: I alone need none
(Ps 10:11; 73:11; 94:7,
sorcerers--a sin into which the Jews were led in connection with their
foreign idolatrous wives. The Jews of Christ's time also practised
(Ac 8:9; 13:6;
JOSEPHUS [Antiquities, 20.6;
Wars of the Jews, 2.12.23]). It shall be a characteristic of the
last Antichristian confederacy, about to be consumed by the brightness
of Christ's Coming
Re 13:13, 14; 16:13, 14;
Re 9:21; 18:23; 21:8; 22:15).
Romanism has practised it; an order of exorcists exists in that
(Mal 2:15, 16).
fear not me--the source of all sins.
6. the Lord--Jehovah: a name implying His immutable faithfulness in
fulfilling His promises: the covenant name of God to the Jews
called here "the sons of Jacob," in reference to God's covenant with
I change not--Ye are mistaken in inferring that, because I have not
yet executed judgment on the wicked, I am changed from what I once was,
namely, a God of judgment.
therefore ye . . . are not consumed--Ye yourselves
being "not consumed," as ye have long ago deserved, are a signal proof
of My unchangeableness.
compare the whole chapter, in which God's mercy in store for Israel is
made wholly to flow from God's unchanging faithfulness to His own
covenant of love. So here, as is implied by the phrase "sons of
(Ge 28:13; 35:12).
They are spared because I am JEHOVAH, and they
sons of Jacob; while I spare them, I will also punish them; and
while I punish them, I will not wholly consume them. The
unchangeableness of God is the sheet-anchor of the Church. The
perseverance of the saints is guaranteed, not by their unchangeable
love to God, but by His unchangeable love to them, and His eternal
purpose and promise in Christ Jesus [MOORE]. He
upbraids their ingratitude that they turn His very long-suffering
into a ground for skeptical denial of His coming as a Judge at all
(Ps 50:1, 3, 4, 21;
Ec 8:11, 12;
7-12. Reproof for the non-payment of tithes and offerings, which is
the cause of their national calamities, and promise of prosperity on
their paying them.
from . . . days of your fathers--Ye live as your fathers did when they
brought on themselves the Babylonian captivity, and ye wish to follow in
their steps. This shows that nothing but God's unchanging long-suffering
had prevented their being long ago "consumed"
Return unto me--in penitence.
I will return unto you--in blessings.
The same insensibility to their guilt continues: they speak in the tone
of injured innocence, as if God calumniated them.
8. rob--literally, "cover": hence, defraud. Do ye call defrauding God
no sin to be "returned" from
Yet ye have done so to Me in respect to the tithes due to Me, namely,
the tenth of all the remainder after the first-fruits were paid, which
tenth was paid to the Levites for their support
a tenth paid by the Levites to the priests
a second tenth paid by the people for the entertainment of the Levites,
and their own families, at the tabernacle
another tithe every third year for the poor, &c.
(De 14:28, 29).
offerings--the first-fruits, not less than one-sixtieth part of the
corn, wine, and oil
Ne 13:10, 12).
The priests had this perquisite also, the tenth of the tithes which
were the Levites perquisite. But they appropriated all the tithes,
robbing the Levites of their due nine-tenths; as they did also,
according to JOSEPHUS, before the destruction of
Jerusalem by Titus. Thus doubly God was defrauded, the priests not
discharging aright their sacrificial duties, and robbing God of the
services of the Levites, who were driven away by destitution [GROTIUS].
As ye despoil Me, so I despoil you, as I threatened I would, if ye
continued to disregard Me. In trying to defraud God we only defraud
ourselves. The eagle who robbed the altar set fire to her nest from the
burning coal that adhered to the stolen flesh. So men who retain God's
money in their treasuries will find it a losing possession. No man ever
yet lost by serving God with a whole heart, nor gained by serving Him
with a half one. We may compromise with conscience for half the price,
but God will not endorse the compromise; and, like Ananias and
Sapphira, we shall lose not only what we thought we had purchased so
cheaply, but also the price we paid for it. If we would have God "open"
His treasury, we must open ours. One cause of the barrenness of the
Church is the parsimony of its members [MOORE].
(Pr 3:9, 10).
Ne 10:38; 13:5, 12).
prove me . . . herewith--with this; by doing so. Test Me whether I
will keep My promise of blessing you, on condition of your doing your
pour . . . out--literally, "empty out": image from a vessel completely
emptied of its contents: no blessing being kept back.
windows of heaven--
that . . . not . . . room enough, &c.--literally, "even to not . . .
sufficiency," that is, either, as English Version. Or, even so as
that there should be "not merely" "sufficiency" but
GESENIUS not so well translates,
"Even to a failure of sufficiency," which in the case of God could never
arise, and therefore means for ever, perpetually: so
"as long as the sun and moon endure"; literally, "until a failure of the
sun and moon," which is never to be; and therefore means, for ever.
11. I will rebuke--(See on
I will no longer "rebuke (English Version, 'corrupt') the seed,"
but will rebuke every agency that could hurt it
12. Fulfilling the blessing
13-18. He notices the complaint of the Jews that it is of no profit
to serve Jehovah, for that the ungodly proud are happy; and declares He
will soon bring the day when it shall be known that He puts an
everlasting distinction between the godly and the ungodly.
words . . . stout--Hebrew, "hard"; so "the hard speeches which
ungodly sinners have spoken against Him"
have we spoken--The Hebrew expresses at once their
assiduity and habit of speaking against God
[VATABLUS]. The niphal form of the verb
implies that these
things were said, not directly to God, but of God, to one
14. what profit . . . that we . . . kept,
They here resume the same murmur against God.
Job 21:14, 15; 22:17
describe a further stage of the same skeptical spirit, when the skeptic
has actually ceased to keep God's service.
describes the temptation to a like feeling in the saint when seeing the
really godly suffer and the ungodly prosper in worldly goods now. The
Jews here mistake utterly the nature of God's service, converting it
into a mercenary bargain; they attended to outward observances, not
from love to God, but in the hope of being well paid for in outward
prosperity; when this was withheld, they charged God with being unjust,
forgetting alike that God requires very different motives from theirs
to accompany outward observances, and that God rewards even the true
worshipper not so much in this life, as in the life to come.
his ordinance--literally, what He requires to be kept, "His
walked mournfully--in mournful garb, sackcloth and ashes, the
emblems of penitence; they forget
where God, by showing what is true fasting, similarly rebukes those who
then also said, Wherefore have we fasted and Thou seest not? &c. They
mistook the outward show for real humiliation.
15. And now--Since we who serve Jehovah are not prosperous and "the
proud" heathen flourish in prosperity, we must pronounce them the
favorites of God
set up--literally, "built up": metaphor from architecture
tempt God--dare God to punish them, by breaking His laws
16. "Then," when the ungodly utter such blasphemies against God, the
godly hold mutual converse, defending God's righteous dealings against
The "often" of English Version is not in the Hebrew.
There has been always in the darkest times a remnant that feared God
feared the Lord--reverential and loving fear, not slavish terror.
When the fire of religion burns low, true believers should draw the
nearer together, to keep the holy flame alive. Coals separated soon go
book of remembrance . . . for them--for their advantage, against the
day when those found faithful among the faithless shall receive their
final reward. The kings of Persia kept a record of those who had
rendered services to the king, that they might be suitably rewarded
(Es 6:1, 2;
makes the fearers of God to be those awakened from among the ungodly
mass (before described) to true repentance; the writing of the
book thus will imply that some were reclaimable among the blasphemers,
and that the godly should be assured that, though no hope appeared,
there would be a door of penitence opened for them before God.
But there is nothing in the context to support this view.
Literally, "My peculiar treasure"
De 7:6; 14:2; 26:18;
CALVIN translates more in accordance with
Hebrew idiom, "They shall be My peculiar treasure in the day
in which I will do it" (that is, fulfil My promise of gathering My
completed Church; or, "make" those things come to pass foretold in
above [GROTIUS]); so in
"do" is used absolutely, "in the day that I shall do this."
MAURER, not so well, translates, "in the day which
I shall make," that is, appoint as in
as . . . man spareth . . . son--
18. Then shall ye . . . discern--Then shall ye see the
falseness of your calumny against God's government
that the "proud" and wicked prosper. Do not judge before the time till
My work is complete. It is in part to test your disposition to trust in
God in spite of perplexing appearances, and in order to make your
service less mercenary, that the present blended state is allowed; but
at last all ("ye," both godly and ungodly) shall see the eternal
difference there really is "between him that serveth God and him that
serveth Him not"
return--Ye shall turn to a better state of mind on this point.