Introduction to Malachi
The book of Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament. After Malachi there were some four hundred “silent years” before Christ came, and then still another fifty years or so before the first divinely inspired New Testament book (possibly James or Galatians) was written. Thus Malachi occupies a key place in the canon in Scripture.
The name “Malachi” means “my messenger,” or possibly “my angel” (the Hebrew word for “angel” is malak). Since nothing is known of Malachi personally, some commentators have even suggested that he may have been an angel, sent specifically by God to close and seal the Old Testament canon. This is very unlikely, of course.
Others have suggested that Malachi wrote his prophecy shortly before Ezra came to Jerusalem, and thus that he came earlier than either Haggai or Zechariah. This conjecture is also quite unwarranted. It is clear that the temple was complete and its regular worship long established by the time Malachi had come to rebuke its corruption by unfaithful priests and people (Malachi 1:7; 2:8; 3:10).
Malachi was a man thoroughly devoted to God and His righteousness, the last of the Old Testament prophets. He rebukes the same sins as did Nehemiah (compare Malachi 2:11; 3:8-10 with Nehemiah 13:23-31; 13:10-14). Malachi possibly wrote in the interim between the two periods of Nehemiah’s stay and governing in Jerusalem.
It is appropriate that Malachi, the last Old Testament prophet, should prophesy the coming of John the Baptist, who should be considered the first New Testament prophet (Malachi 3:1), and then also the return of Elijah the prophet in the end times (Malachi 4:5).