Malachi 3:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Malachi 3:2, NIV: But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap.

Malachi 3:2, ESV: But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Malachi 3:2, KJV: But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:

Malachi 3:2, NASB: 'But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like launderer’s soap.

Malachi 3:2, NLT: 'But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes.

Malachi 3:2, CSB: But who can endure the day of his coming? And who will be able to stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire and like launderer's bleach.

What does Malachi 3:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Israel's complaint about God's judgment (Malachi 2:17) is short-sighted. Worse, it's hypocritical. God's judgment is powerful, and applies to all people, not merely "other people," as Israel seems to think. This verse asks a rhetorical question about who, among men, can withstand the judgment of God. The assumed answer, of course, is that no one can.

Two analogies are used here to describe God's judgment. Precious metals are refined using fire. Materials like gold and silver melt, but don't burn, at temperatures where other materials burst into flames. Heating these metals destroys impurities, leaving only the pure alloy. God's judgment is often symbolized by fire for this reason (Malachi 4:1).

Various translations of the Hebrew term bo'rit mekabbesim all include the same basic idea: cleansing. The reference is to a form of lye, or potash, an extremely strong soap. This is the kind of material used to dissolve impurities and bleach clothes. Just as the refiner's fire removes what is impure, destroying what's undesirable, so too does this "fullers' soap" wash away stains and spots.

Verse 3 will remind readers that God's first priority for purification will be the priesthood (Malachi 2:3–4).