Malachi 3:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Malachi 3:1, NIV: I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,' says the LORD Almighty.

Malachi 3:1, ESV: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:1, KJV: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Malachi 3:1, NASB: 'Behold, I am sending My messenger, and he will clear a way before Me. And the Lord, whom you are seeking, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,' says the LORD of armies.

Malachi 3:1, NLT: 'Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,' says the LORD of Heaven's Armies.

Malachi 3:1, CSB: "See, I am going to send my messenger, and he will clear the way before me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to his temple, the Messenger of the covenant you delight in--see, he is coming," says the Lord of Armies.

What does Malachi 3:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

In Malachi 2:17, Israel throws an arrogant, ignorant accusation at God. This claim is so common, and so vapid, that God Himself is described as "wearied" by it. Specifically, Israel has complained that those who do evil seem to be blessed by God, and then asked "Where is the God of justice?" Israel is comparing themselves to the world, and criticizing God for not dealing more harshly with those they see as sinners.

Given all that the book of Malachi describes, this is an unwise attitude. The priests of Israel have been disobedient (Malachi 1:6–7). The people have been unfaithful (Malachi 2:10–11). And yet, they have the nerve to ask—sarcastically, it seems—where the "God of justice" is. The upcoming verses will show God's response: brace yourselves, because you're going to get what you wished for. Asking God to judge means asking to be judged, as His judgment applies to all people at all times.

This verse specifically promises a messenger, echoing the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3. Jesus will confirm this prediction's fulfillment in the person of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:7–10). Malachi's prophecy is the last word from God given to Israel for four centuries, with John the Baptist being the next prophetic figure to emerge.

Separately, this verse predicts the return of the Lord to His temple. This is not the same person, time, or event as the messenger who "prepares the way," as mentioned in the first part of this verse. This prediction echoes passages such as Ezekiel 43:1–5 and Zechariah 8:3. As such, it is a prediction of the end times.

Notice that Malachi includes two remarks which almost certainly are meant to be sarcastic. God is referred to as one "in whom you delight," and "whom you seek." Given the apathy and disobedience of Israel, this is hardly a compliment. More likely, it's a mocking response to Israel's snide question posed in Malachi 2:17.