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

Malachi 3:3, NIV: He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness,

Malachi 3:3, ESV: He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.

Malachi 3:3, KJV: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3, NASB: And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3, NLT: He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD.

Malachi 3:3, CSB: He will be like a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver. Then they will present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.

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

The first accusation brought in Malachi was targeted at the priesthood, for offering impure sacrifices (Malachi 1:6–8). As a result, God threatened to remove impurities from His sanctuary in the same way that priests discarded animal wastes (Malachi 2:3). Here, the same purification is in mind. The priesthood will be "refined."

A "refiner's fire" is the process used to remove impurities from precious metals. Since the heat required to melt silver and gold is enough to destroy other materials, this is the method used to generate purer alloys. Here, that metaphor is being applied to the priesthood of Israel. The tribe of Levi was charged with caring for the temple, and only Levites could be priests. Rather than abandon them (Malachi 1:2–5), or destroy them (Malachi 3:6), God plans to refine them. Of course, this means passing through the fire.

Earlier, it was said that God would prefer no sacrifice at all, as opposed to offerings which were inappropriate and indifferent (Malachi 1:10). Part of the purpose of His refining is to restore the worship of His people to something worth accepting (Malachi 1:11). While this may start with the priests, the people also have impure behaviors which need to be purged (Malachi 2:11–13).