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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Malachi 4

 

 

Verses 1-3

Malachi 3:13 to Malachi 4:3. The Final Triumph of Righteousness.—The prophet here returns to the complaint of those who thought that religion did not pay (with Malachi 3:14; cf. Malachi 2:17). They had "kept God's charge," faithfully observing their religious duties, and even wearing the sackcloth and ashes which marked humiliation and penance. Yet it is the arrogant and lax members of the community (cf. Psalms 119:21; Psalms 119:51, etc.) that do well; they challenge God's judgment by their evil-doing, yet it does not fall upon them. Such were the words of pious Jews in Malachi's day (the first word of Malachi 3:16 should be "thus" or "these things" (LXX) instead of "then"), and Yahweh, ever mindful of His people, prepared a record (cf. the custom referred to in Esther 6:1 f.) so that He may not fail to do them justice when the hour strikes. In the day of His action ("the day on which I do" or "act") they, the true Israel, will be His peculium or special private possession, and while the sons who have been rebellious and disloyal are punished, those who have been faithful in service will be protected. Men will "return and discern" (i.e. they will once more, as in the good old times, see) virtue rewarded and vice punished; the moral distinctions will no longer be obliterated or blurred. Indeed, the arrogant and wicked will be totally destroyed like a prairie or a forest on fire. But the righteousness of the God-fearers (or of God Himself) will shine forth conspicuous to all, like the sun, and in its beneficent rays all their affliction will be healed. We may note that the Babylonian Shamash, the sun-god, was conceived of as the god of justice, and that Assyrian, Persian, and Egyptian monuments represent the solar disc with wings issuing on either side, his (Malachi 4:2) is simply the archaic form of its"; Malachi is not definitely predicting Christ, or indeed any personal agent. Exulting in their vindication, the godly will be as vigorous and joyful as young calves turned out from the dark stall to the sunny meadow. Alongside this picture is the grimmer one of the fate of the wicked (cf. Isaiah 66:24).


Verses 4-6

Malachi 4:4-6. Conclusion.—The book closes with an exhortation to observe the Torah or instruction given through Moses; the mention of Horeb, a Deuteronomic trait (P prefers Sinai) perhaps indicates that Malachi has especially in mind the moral and spiritual teachings of Dt. These, if faithfully observed, would heal the strife spoken of in Malachi 4:6, and avert the impending doom. Before the judgment falls, another way of escape is promised: Elijah will reappear (with Malachi 4:5 cf. Joel 2:31), to set right the social and family discord which is wrecking the community (cf. Micah 7:1-6). The frequent references to Elijah in the Gospels (e.g. Mark 9:11 f; Mark 15:35, Luke 1:17, Matthew 11:14, John 1:21; John 1:25) show how largely the prophet bulked in late Jewish thought. See also Ecclus. 481-11, Justin Martyr, Trypho, §§ 8, 49, and Schürer, § 29. In Malachi 4:6 mg., "with" necessitates our supplying "to God" in the text; mg., "land" is better than "the earth"—Malachi is speaking of Israel. It is possible that these three concluding verses are an appendix to the whole "Book of the Twelve."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Malachi 4:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/malachi-4.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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