Criswell Theological Review 2.1 (1987) 99-117

[Copyright © 1987 by Criswell College, cited with permission;

digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere]










Denver Seminary, Denver, CO 80210



At first glance, the book of Malachi seems not to play a prominent

role in the NT. To be sure, key themes from this last oracle of OT

prophecy reappear in the later Scriptures. One may compare, for

example, the Jews' contemptuous treatment of their sacrifices (Mal

1:7-14) with Paul's admonitions to the Corinthians concerning the

Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:17-34), the disobedience of the priests and

Levites (Mal 2:1-12) with Jesus' consistent critique of many of the

Pharisees and Sadducees in his day, God's hatred of divorce and his

monogamus designs for marriage (Mal 2:13-16) with Jesus' and

Paul’s teachings on the same topics (Mark 10:1-12 pars.; 1 Corinthians

7), the promise of the Lord's coming in righteousness to his temple

both to save and to judge (Mal 3:1-4; 4:1-3) with the repeated NT

emphasis on the fulfillment of these prophecies in Christ's first and

second comings, or the insistence that God's blessings are contingent

upon the faithful stewardship of one's tithe (Mal 3:8-12) with Paul's

teaching on the collection for Jerusalem (2 Cor 8-9).1 Yet only two

explicit quotations from Malachi find their way into the pages of the

NT.  These two passages, however, by virtue of their theological

importance more than compensate for their lack of companions.


1 In each case, the OT teaching is not adopted without qualification. The salvation-

differences between the testaments make it clear that the nature and role of

priesthood, temple, and tithe, and the exceptions to the prohibition

divorce are all altered in NT times. The precise nature of those alterations is

and usually determined on the basis of larger theological systems.



I. The Coming of Elijah


"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before

me" (Mal. 3:1a).


A. Text and Attribution

All three Synoptic gospels contain quotations of this statement

(Mark 1:2; Matt 11:10; Luke 7:27) in almost identical form, and apply

it to John the Baptist. Matthew and Luke have virtually the same

Greek verbatim: ]Idou>  (e]gw)  a]poste<llw  to>n  a@ggelo<n  mou  pro> prosw<-

pou sou, o{j kataskeua<sei th>n  o[do<n sou  e@mprosqe<n sou, while Mark

merely deletes the final two words. The first clause of this quotation

parallels the LXX of Exod 23:20 exactly, but the second finds no

equivalent there. Both clauses are paralleled more loosely in the LXX

of Mal 3:1, where kai> e]pible<yetai o[do<n occurs before the phrase pro>

prosw<pou, instead of o!j kataskeua<sei to>n o[do<n after it. Also the

personal pronouns are first person mou's in Malachi, while the verb

a]poste<llw has the prefix e]c attached.

In Exodus, the promise of a divinely sent messenger occurs in the

context of preparation for guidance during the Israelites' trek from

Sinai to the Promised Land. Malachi's prophecy may deliberately

echo the Pentateuchal text;2 if not, a later rabbinic juxtaposition of

these two texts may suggest that their combination was already tra-

ditional in Jesus' day.3 Interpreters of the gospels should therefore not

read too much into this reminiscence of Exodus.4 At the same time,

Mark's juxtaposition of this conflation of Exodus and Malachi with a

quotation of Isa 40:3 (Mark 1:3), highlighting the wilderness theme

which Isaiah's "crying voice" and John the Baptist share, may suggest

that the gospels' wording was designed to call to mind the remote

setting of the Israelites in Exodus.5 The change from e]pible<yetai to

kataskeua<sei follows the Massoretic pointing of the Hebrew (pinna

rather than pana).6 The addition of the definite article before o[do<n

enhances the parallelism with the Isaiah quote in Mark 1:3,7 and


2 C. L. Feinberg, The Twelve Minor Prophets (Chicago: Moody, 1977) 260.

3 W. L. Lane, The Gospel according to Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974),

45, citing Exod. Rab. 23:20.

4 However, contra G. L. Archer and G. C. Chirichigno, Old Testament Quotations

in the New Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1983) 165, eight consecutive paralleled words

seem more than "purely verbal resemblance," especially when Exodus and the Synop-

tics both contain the same shift in pronoun from the text of Malachi.

5 This, rather than any innovative, christological interpretation of Mal 3:1 most

naturally accounts for the shift in person of the pronouns.

6 H. B. Swete, The Gospel according to St. Mark (London: Macmillan, 1909) 2.

7 So also A. Schlatter, Der Evangelist Matthaus (Stuttgart: Calwer, 1948) 363.

Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     101

e@mprosqen may reflect stylistic variation from pro>  prosw<pou.8 Not-

withstanding these minor changes, the Hebrew text of Malachi is

represented very naturally by the Greek form of the Synoptic passages

in question.

A more substantive preliminary puzzle arises from the conjunc-

tion of Mal 3:1 with Isa 40:3 in Mark 1:2-3. Mark attributes the

composite quotation to Isaiah. The textual variant, "in the prophets,"

adopted by the KJV, is too weakly attested and obviously harmonistic

to be accepted as original. Hypotheses about later textual errors or

glosses are even less supportable.9 The vast majority of commentators

not surprisingly claim that Mark has simply made a mistake, although

reasons for that mistake range from Mark's alleged distance from and

unfamiliarity with primitive gospel tradition and its Jewish roots10 to

his uncritical adoption of early, traditional materials in which the two

passages had already been linked (perhaps along with others as well)

under one heading.11

Scholars who have not viewed Mark's attribution as an error

have proposed alternate explanations. Some suggest that a literary

convention existed in ancient Judaism by which a reference to more

than one person's writings could be attributed simply to the most

prominent author12 or to the source of the more significant reference,

but without supplying extra-biblical examples of this phenomenon.13

W. Hendriksen sidesteps the real problem by encouraging critics not

to complain that Mark supplies two things after only promising one!14

The most helpful solution is suggested by the example of the Dead

Sea text 4QTestim, in which several quotes, not all from the Penta-

teuch, are juxtaposed under the common head, "The Lord said to

Moses," irrespective of their relative prominence or significance. Mark

most likely follows this practice, which was apparently accepted in


8 R. H. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel (Leiden:

Brill, 1967) 12.

9 As, e.g., with V. Taylor, The Gospel according to St. Mark (London: Macmillan,

1952) 153.

10 E.g., P. Parker, "The Posteriority of Mark," New Synoptic Studies (ed. W. R.

Farmer; Macon: Mercer, 1983) 76.

11 E.g., E. Schweizer, The Good News according to Mark (Richmond: John

Knox, 1970) 29; K. Stendahl, The School of St. Matthew and Its Use of the Old

Testament (Lund: Gleerup, 1954) 51.

12 E.g., G. L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zonder-

van, 1982).

13 E.g., D. Edmond Hiebert, Mark: A Portrait of the Servant (Chicago: Moody,

1974) 29; R. Pesch, Das Markusevangelium (2 vols.; Freiburg: Herder, 1976-77) 1. 77.

14 W. Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel according to Mark (Grand Rapids:

Baker, 1975) 34.




his day, but no conclusions may be drawn from it concerning the

respective importance of the Malachi and Isaiah quotations, nor may

Mark fairly be accused of erring.

Matthew and Luke not surprisingly omit the quotation from

Malachi in their parallel accounts (Matt 3:3, Luke 3:4-6) and thus

dispense with the problem of the attribution to Isaiah. These omissions

are accounted for far better by the hypothesis of Markan priority

than by any of its competitors; the idea of Mark introducing this

ambiguity into a source which was free of it seems odd in the

extreme.15 The two "minor agreements" of Matthew and Luke against

Mark do not offset this, since the three contexts in question are not

parallel. Matthew and Luke cite Mal 3:1 as part of Jesus' explanation

to the crowds concerning the identity and mission of John, after the

Baptist had been imprisoned, whereas Mark uses the quote as his

introduction to John's ministry. Undoubtedly the quotation had come

down to the evangelists in at least two traditions (Mark and the

material common to Matthew and Luke).


B. Meaning and Pedigree of the Passages

No one disputes that the Synoptic evangelists use Mal 3:1 to

elucidate the ministry of the Baptist nor that they do so in a way

which presupposes that the messenger of 3:1 is none other than

Elijah, whose coming is foretold in 4:5-6 (MT 3:23-24).16 Three key

questions which are debated, however, include: (1) Did Jesus himself

understand John to be Malachi's prophesied messenger in this sense?

(2) In what way, if any, did John understand himself in this role,

especially in light of his denial of it in John 1:21? (3) Are the gospels'

interpretations fair to the original text and context of Malachi?


1. Jesus' Understanding of John. The passage common to

Matthew 11 and Luke 7 explicitly attributes the quotation of Mal 3:1

to Jesus. Matthew's account is longer and more detailed, but this is


15 Similarly A. T. Hanson, The Living Utterances of God (London: Darton,

Longman & Todd, 1983) 36.

16 A few scholars argue that Luke, in contradistinction to Matthew and Mark,

downplays or altogether obliterates this John = Elijah typology, possibly because he

sees Jesus as the new Elijah instead. This type of hypothesis might account for Luke's

omission of Mark 9:11-13 but it does not explain his retention of 7:27, nor his insertion

of the unparalleled statement in 1:17 about John coming in the spirit and power of

Elijah. Luke may well have seen parallels between Jesus and Elijah too; typologies are

by nature fluid and often somewhat interchangeable. For a fuller discussion of the

various views, see J. A. Fitzmyer, The Gospel according to Luke I-IX (Garden City:

Doubleday, 1981) 320, and R. Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (Garden City: Double-

day, 1977) 276-77.


Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     103


probably due to Luke's customary abbreviation of his sources rather

than to Matthean expansion. Matthew's most noteworthy distinction

occurs with Jesus' words in 11:14: "if you are willing to receive [it],

this is Elijah, the one about to come." The conditional clause suggests

that the interpretation may be a novel one and will not meet with

universal acceptance. The same equation is again attributed to Jesus

in Mark 9:11-13 (par. Matt 17:10-13) when the disciples who were

descending from the Mount of Transfiguration ask Jesus about the

coming of Elijah. Here Jesus replies more elliptically by simply

remarking that Elijah has come, but Matthew adds that the disciples

understood their master to be referring to John.

Older commentators often took this equation for granted, and

assumed without question that pre-Christian Judaism widely believed

that Elijah would return from heaven as a Messianic forerunner. Since

Jesus believed himself to be the Messiah, his application of Mal 3:1 to

his forerunner, John, would have been entirely natural, and the ele-

ment of uncertainty introduced by "if you are willing" would have

stemmed only from the fact that John was not the literal Elijah

returned from heaven but simply an ordinary human personage whose

prophetic ministry paralleled that of Elijah in important respects.17

This line of interpretation (along with traditional views of Jesus'

self-understanding more generally) has been sharply criticized by

recent studies, which take their starting point from the claim that no

unambiguous evidence exists for a pre-Christian Jewish belief in

Elijah as a Messianic forerunner.18 The rabbinic texts traditionally

cited on behalf of this belief are all post-Christian and mostly Tal-

mudic,19 while demonstrably pre-Christian references to Elijah's

return (most notably Sir 48:10) do not link the prophet with a Messiah.

No convincing explanation has been given, however, for the post-

Christian Jewish adoption of a perspective which supported the

Christian interpretation of Mal 3:1. In light of rabbinic Judaism's

censorship of numerous Christian beliefs which earlier Jews seem to


17 Cf., e.g., Jeremias, " [Hl(e)i<aj," TDNT 2 (1964) 928-41. More recently, cf.

A,. Wiener, The Prophet Elijah in the Development of Judaism (London: Routledge &

Kegan Paul, 1978) 42, who uncritically assumes that the Gospels' reference to the

scribes' belief in Mark 9:11 par. combined with Justin's 2nd century Dialogue with

Trypho (8:49) "unequivocally show that until the beginning of the Christian era the

ordinary Jewish people as well as the spiritual elite expected the return of Elijah as the

precursor and attendant of the Messiah from the house of David."

18 See esp. M. M. Faierstein, "Why Do the Scribes Say that Elijah Must Come

First?" JBL 100 (1981) 75-86. Cf. J. A. Fitzmyer, "More about Elijah Coming First,"

JBL 104 (1985) 295-96.

19 For a relatively full list of texts, see L. Ginzberg, An Unknown Jewish Sect

(New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 1976)212, n. 14.




have held, it seems likely that some pre-Christian Jewish precedent

must have given rise to these traditions.20 But this cannot be proven,

and such traditions, if they existed, may well not have been


What both the traditional and the more recent sides of this

debate fail to grasp is that the gospels do not suggest that the logic of

Jesus' equation of John with Elijah follows from his self-understanding

as Messiah and belief in Mal 3:1 and 4:5-6 as Messianic prophecies.

There is no clear reference to the Messiah in Malachi and no indication

that the NT writers found one there. Rather the texts speak of God

himself coming (3:1b) to usher in the day of judgment and salvation

(3:2-5). Whatever Jesus' specific beliefs about the ministry of the

Messiah, it is widely admitted that he believed himself to be some

kind of special envoy from God who was to usher in God's kingdom,

at least in inaugurated form, incipiently bringing both salvation for

those who would turn from their sin and judgment for those who

would not. The logic of the John = Elijah equation may thus be

encapsulated as follows: (1) Malachi speaks of Elijah, the messenger,

preparing the way for the Day of the Lord. (2) Jesus' ministry brings

at least a partial fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the Day of

the Lord. (3) The one who prepared the way for Jesus must therefore

at least partially fulfill the role of Elijah according to Malachi.21

Nevertheless, there is high Christology here, all the more significant

as it is merely implicit, since Jesus is appropriating a text about the

coming of God and applying it to himself.22

The above syllogism clearly does not reflect pre-Christian Jewish

thought and was replaced early on in the history of the church with a

more specifically Messianic interpretation.23 The criterion of dissimi-

larity can therefore be invoked to support the authenticity of Jesus'

equation of John with Elijah. The multiple attestation of this tradition

in Mark, the teachings common to Matthew and Luke, and the

distinctively Lucan material (Luke 1:17) further supports its genuine-

ness, as does the incidental reference to scribal tradition vis-a-vis

clear scriptural teaching24 and the enigmatic nature of Jesus' comments

on the topic more generally.25 Tradition-critical dissections of Mark


20 Cf. D. C. Allison, "Elijah Must Come First," JBL 103 (1984) 257.

21 Cf. I. H. Marshall, The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 296;

H. Schiirmann, Das Lukasevangelium (Freiburg: Herder, 1969) 1.417.

22 R. T. France, Matthew (Leicester: InterVarsity, 1985) 194.

23 Fitzmyer, Luke I-IX, 673.

24 Allison, “Elijah,  256.

25 A. Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to St.

Matthew (London: Robert Scott, 1915) 240.


Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     105


9:11-13 and Matt 11:10-14 are largely based on alleged inconsistencies

within the passages, which are highly subjective and sometimes self-

canceling.26 W. Wink's notion of a Markan "Elijanic secret" modeled

after his Messianic secret fails to shore up the numerous weaknesses

in the latter hypothesis.27 G. B. Caird's conclusion, with specific refer-

ence to the Moses and Elijah typology applied to John in Luke 7:27,

could quite naturally embrace all the texts in question: "it is far more

likely that such a synthesis of ideas as this had its origin in the creative

mind of Jesus."28

2. John's Own Views. The Synoptics never report John's own

opinions concerning his identity. But all three agree on information

which is generally acknowledged to be historical about the nature of

his ministry: he preached a message of repentance thoroughly con-

sonant with the oracles of the OT prophets, he adopted the dress of

an Elijah-like figure (camel's hair and a leather girdle; cf. 2 Kgs 1:8),

and the location of his ministry in the wilderness easily conjured up-

memories of both Elijah and Moses who spent so much time in

similar locations.29 While it cannot be proven that John consciously

set out to model Elijah specifically, he should hardly have been

surprised to find others pointing out the similarities.

Why then does the Fourth Gospel report John's response to his

Jerusalemite inquirers in terms of a flat denial to their question, "Are

you Elijah?" (John 1:21)? Most modern scholarship affirms that this is

just another Johannine inaccuracy, where theology has outrun history.

A popular theory has been to assume that an important but divisive

element in the Johannine community was a group of over-zealous

followers of the Baptist, who perhaps even saw him as a Messiah, and

that the fourth evangelist deliberately modified the more authentic

tradition reflected in the Synoptics in order to try to combat their


26 So, e.g., A. H. McNeile, The Gospel according to St. Matthew (London:

Macmillan, 1915) 54; D. Hill, The Gospel of Matthew (London: Oliphants, 1972) 200;

on which see D. A. Carson, "Matthew," Expositor's Bible Commentary (12 vols.; ed.

F. Gaebelein; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984) 8. 264. Other objections are often

based on implicit false dichotomies; e.g., J. Gnilka (Das Evangelium nach Markus [2

vols.; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener; Zurich: Benziger; 1977-78] 2.41) who labels

Mark 9:9-13 a "Gemeindedisput"; or V. Schonle (Johannes, Jesus und die Juden

[Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1982] 53) who notes that Matt 11:14 is explicit rather than

implicit. Both observations may be correct, but neither needs impinge on the authen-

ticity of the sayings involved.

27 W. Wink, John the Baptist in the Gospel Tradition (Cambridge: University

Press, 1968) 16.

28 G. B. Caird, The Gospel of St. Luke (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963) 113.

29 Cf. C. H. H. Scobie, John the Baptist (London: SCM, 1964) 127, 129.



devotion.30  J. A. T. Robinson has stood this approach on its head,

arguing that the Fourth Gospel, here and elsewhere, is more historic-

ally accurate than the Synoptics where they seem to contradict one

another, and that only later did John's status become elevated, accom-

panying the early church's development of a higher Christology.31

There are several plausible hypotheses, though, which find neither

John nor the Synoptics involved in a contradiction. The most common

is that the Baptist was simply denying that he was the literal Elijah

returned from heaven as some Jews were expecting.32 It might be

asked if this would not have been self-evident to John's inquirers.

Others think that John did not genuinely know he was fulfilling the

function of an Elijah,33 but in light of his historical actions, noted

above, this seems somewhat dubious. Perhaps a better approach is to

side with M. de Jonge, who notes the popularity of an expectation of

a purely human Messiah who would not know his identity until Elijah

revealed him; John would naturally deny this type of Elijanic role.34

Alternately, J. R. Michaels proposes that the series of denials in John

1:19-21 (that the Baptist was not the Christ, the Prophet, or Elijah) all

refer to the same fact--that John was not the Messiah.35 The type of

role for Elijah which John would have disclaimed would then be one

which was Christological in nature itself, perhaps a development

from the facts that Malachi's messenger could easily be seen as

priestly (Mal 2:7) and that the Dead Sea sect had already developed

the doctrine of two Messiahs--a priestly as well as a Davidic one.36 It

is difficult to choose among all of these options, but objective histori-

ography demands that a viable, harmonistic solution be preferred to

one which requires that the gospels contradict themselves.37


30 For a detailed discussion from this perspective, see Wink, John the Baptist,


31 J. A. T. Robinson, "Elijah, John and Jesus: An Essay in Detection," NTS 4

(1957-58) 263-81; cf. B. Lindars, The Gospel of John (London: Oliphants, 1972) 103-4.

C. S. Mann, Mark (Garden City: Doubleday, 1986) 364-68, generally endorses Robin-

son's perspective but argues that Jesus himself first made the switch in identification.

32 Classically, B. F. Westcott, The Gospel according to St. John (London: Mac-

millan, 1908) 34; cf. also L. Morris, The Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids:

Eerdmans, 1971) 134-35; Carson, "Matthew," 269.

33 C. F. D. Moule, The Phenomenon of the New Testament (London: SCM, 1967)

70; cf. also Morris and Carson as in n. 32 above.

34 M. de Jonge, "Jewish Expectations about the 'Messiah' according to the Fourth

Gospel," NTS 19 (1972-73) 246-70.

35 J. R. Michaels, John (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1984) 12.

36 Cf., in part, B. V. Malchow, "The Messenger of the Covenant in Mal 3:1," JBL

103 (1984) 252-55.

37 See esp. C. L. Blomberg, "The Legitimacy and Limits of Harmonization,"

Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon (ed. D. A. Carson and J. D. Woodbridge; Grand

Rapids: Zondervan, 1986) 139-74.

Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     107


3. The Context of Malachi. Even if the authenticity and non-

contradictory nature of the gospel texts can be maintained, the final

and perhaps most important question of the meaning of Mal 3:1 in its

original context must be faced. Has the NT fairly utilized this Scrip-

ture by interpreting it first in light of 4:5-6 on Elijah and then by

applying it to John the Baptist? With respect to the first question, it

must be admitted at once that the referent of the messenger in 3:1 is

not self-evident. Commentators have suggested a host of different

figures besides Elijah; the more significant include Malachi himself

(whose name means "messenger"), God himself (taking v 1b as

parallel), the angel of the Lord (as God's heavenly representative on

earth), an ideal figure (and thus not to be equated with any historical

individual), and the whole line of divinely ordained prophets.38 But

scholars also tend to agree that the function of 4:5-6 is to identify the

messenger of 3:1 as Elijah.39 These verses, along with 4:4, are fre-

quently considered, however, as a later appendix to Malachi's proph-

ecy, added by a redactor and therefore not determinative of the

original meaning of 3:1.

To these consensus views three replies need to be made. First,

when a verse as ambiguous as 3:1 is interpreted both by later verses

in the same book (whether or not they were added by the same

hand) and by later works in the same religious tradition in one and

only one way, that interpretation should receive at least prima facie

priority.40 Even if it might be plausibly construed in other ways as

well, Mal 3:1 makes sense as a reference to Elijah, and that observation

bears considerable weight. Second, there is no clear indication that

Mal 4:5-6 is a later addition, despite the popularity of that view.

There is not a shred of textual evidence to support the hypothesis,41

even though conclusions to biblical books are often the sources of

conflicting textual variants. Third, even if 4:5-6 were offering an

interpretation contradictory to that intended by the author of 3:1,

Jewish and Christian interpreters alike have historically affirmed that


38 On the alleged parallelism of vv la, b, and c, see C. D. Isbell, Malachi (Grand

Rapids: Zondervan, 1980) 58-59; for all the other views and sample representatives, see

R. L. Smith, Micah-Malachi (Waco: Word, 1984) 327-28.

39 E.g., J. M. P. Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of

Malachi (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1912) 62-63; A. Cohen, The Twelve Prophets

(London: Soncino, 1948) 349; B. S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as

Scripture (London: SCM, 1979) 496. Childs even acknowledges that while 4:5-6 go

beyond the prophet's original message, they do not do injustice to it.

40 Cf. E. Achtemeier, Nahum-Malachi (Atlanta: John Knox, 1986) 184, who notes

that regardless of its pedigree, this interpretation "is just as valid as any of the many

others that have been proposed."

41 Cf. R. L. Alden, "Malachi," Expositor's Bible Commentary (12 vols.;

F. Gaebelein, ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985) 7. 700.




it is the final, canonical form of a given book of Scripture which

determines its interpretation, not any hypothetical earlier stage of

tradition history.42 Jesus and the evangelists would almost certainly

have been following this principle, already enshrined in pre-Christian

Jewish tradition, when they took 4:5-6 as normative for the interpreta-

tion of 3:1.

The final question that remains is whether or not Mal 3:1 was

entirely fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist. Since John only

prepared the way for Christ's first coming, those who accept the NT

belief in a second coming of Christ will naturally wonder if a similar

messenger will prepare the way again in the last days. Rev 11:1-13

describes two such messengers, whose prophetic ministries closely

resemble those of Moses and Elijah (vv 5-6).43 Irrespective of the

specific identity of these two figures, it seems reasonable, therefore,

to say that Mal 3:1 and 4:5-6 have a still future aspect to their

fulfillment, and to reject both poles of the interpretive spectrum

which affirm on the one hand that the prophecy was entirely exhausted

in the life of the Baptist44 and on the other that the prophecy could

not have been fulfilled at all in John.45


42 This principle has become the cornerstone of B. Childs' form of canon criticism

and is stressed throughout his works. See esp. his Old Testament as Scripture and The

New Testament as Canon: An Introduction (London: SCM, 1984).

43 Some commentators prefer to compare the two with Enoch and Elijah, often in

conjunction with the belief that these witnesses will be heavenly envoys (since Enoch

and Elijah were the two OT figures who never died and so apparently already live in

heaven in human form). According to Wiener (Elijah, 146) the early church fathers

generally favored a view which looked for the return of a literal Elijah redivivus. On

the other hand, since Christ's return will not be the coming of a literal David redivivus,

despite numerous prophecies that might give that impression, a less literal interpretation

seems more probable.

44 E.g., C. F. Keil, The Twelve Minor Prophets (2 vols.; 1868, reprinted, Grand

Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949) 2.457; E. Henderson, The Twelve Minor Prophets (1858,

reprinted, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980) 268-69.

45 A natural view, of course, for interpreters who do not find the Christian canon

normative. More puzzling is the approach of W. C. Kaiser, Jr. (Malachi: God's

Unchanging Love [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984] 80-81) who appears not to realize that

the future a]pokatasth<sei in Matt 17:11 is a direct quote of Mal 4:6 (LXX) and so

argues that John only mirrors Elijah in spirit and power, while the true fulfillment of

this prophecy still awaits the end times. Even less persuasive is his attempt (pp. 107-8)

to drive a wedge between Malachi's "Elijah the prophet" and the historical "Elijah the

Tishbite" in order to open "the door for a succession of announcers all the way up to

the second advent of Messiah when the first and last Elijah would step forth as the

beginning and end of the prophets." Among this succession Kaiser includes such men

as Augustine, Calvin, Meno Simons, Luther, Zwingli, Moody, and Graham! Such a

historicist hermeneutic would wreak havoc with the rest of Scripture if it were

consistently applied elsewhere in similar fashion.


Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     109


II. The Election of Jacob


"I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated" (Mall:2b-3a).

A. The Context of Malachi

This short, dramatic pronouncement reappears as a crucial plank

in Paul's discussion in Romans 9 of what theologians have come to

refer to as election and reprobation (v 13). There is no significant

difference among the MT, LXX, and NT texts, only the inversion by

the NT of the subject and predicate in the first clause. Unlike with

Mal 3:1, the meaning of 1:2-3 is remarkably clear. This time it is the

NT use of the passage which sharply divides commentators. Exe-

getical clarity therefore dictates a reversal of sequence of topics for

discussion; Malachi must be examined before Romans.

The most startling discovery for the Neutestamentler or theo-

logian accustomed to hearing this verse cited on behalf of the Calvinist

doctrine of double predestination46 is the way in which Malachi

interprets Jacob and Esau exclusively in light of the nations or peoples

of Israel and Edom and in terms of their political and temporal

destinies (1:3-5). This interpretation is so self-evident from these

three verses that commentators do not even raise alternate views.47

The question can be asked, however, whether or not Malachi has

been fair to the Genesis narrative which describes God's selection of

Jacob and Esau when he applies it in this limited, corporate fashion.

Isaac's two sons were, after all, individuals before they became the

ancestors of nations. Yet the key verse in Genesis, the second half of

which is also cited by Paul (Rom 9:12) immediately before the refer-

ence to Mal 1:2-3, specifically begins with God's promise to Rebekah,

"Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you

will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other. . ."

(Gen 25:23, NIV). Moreover, as the story of the relationship between

Jacob and Esau unfolds, there is not a hint anywhere that Esau's

"curse" is to extend to his personal, eternal destiny.48 If anything, the


46 E.g., J. H. Gerstner, A Predestination Primer (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1960) 43;

K. D. Johns, Election: Love Before Time (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1977)

6. For brief histories of the development of this doctrine and the debates it has incited,

see L. Berkhof, The History of Christian Doctrines (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949)

136-53; P. K. Jewett, Election and Predestination (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985) 5-

23; and in more detail but limited to the post-Reformation period, A. P. F. Sell, The

Great Debate: Calvinism, Arminianism and Salvation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983).

47 Cf., e.g., Alden, "Malachi," 709-10; Keil, "Malachi," 430-32; J. G. Baldwin,

Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1972) 222-24.

48 Later Jewish tradition often did make this suggestion, but it also rationalized

Mal 1:2-3 so as to deny most all of God's initiative in the treatment of Edam (H. J.



ultimate reconciliation of the two brothers (Genesis 33) strongly sug-

gests that Esau also eventually became right with God.49

A more immediate exegetical problem concerns the precise nu-

ances of ‘ahab and sane’ (usually "love" and "hate") in Mal 1:2-3.

Even if the prophet has nations rather than individuals in mind, and

temporal punishments rather than eternal ones, the description of

God hating Esau continues to trouble many. Some interpret the

contrast after the way Matt 10:37 rewords Luke 14:26--"love" and

"hate" really mean "love more" and "love less."50 But Jesus' saying in

the gospels deals with two objects of honor-God and family,

whereas Malachi contrasts the honor attaching to Jacob with the

dishonor of Esau. Others insist that personal animosity or favor

ought to be predicated of God, in light of the usual meanings

of the Hebrew terms elsewhere.51 But the Scriptures are filled with

anthropomorphisms--terms which change their usual meaning when

lifted out of the human realm and applied to God, so this is an

untrustworthy guide as well. The best solution undoubtedly is to side

with those scholars who have pointed out the frequent OT use of love

and hate in a covenantal or political context,52 to note the importance

of faithfulness to the covenant for the message of Malachi,53 and

therefore to interpret the terms dispassionately as "to choose" and "to

reject," in the context of the temporal and national blessings of God's

covenant with Israel.54


Schoeps, Paul [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961] 239, n. 1; cf. J. Munck, Christ and

Israel (Philadelphia: Fortress" 1967] 39-41), so this tradition is unreliable for exegetes

concerned with Malachi's original meaning.

49 Cf. G. Stockhardt, cited by J. Piper, The Justification of God (Grand Rapids:

Baker, 1983) 44. G. L. Archer, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958)

59, notes that the possibility of repentance also remained for Esau's descendants (see

esp. Amos 9:11-12 and cf.its interpretation in Acts 15:16-18).

50 E.g., Kaiser, Malachi, 27.

51 W. Sanday and A. C. Headlam, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the

Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1896) 247; J. Murray, The Epistle to

the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968) 22-23; A. C. Custance, The Sovereignty

of Grace (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1979) 294-95. Tellingly, the last

two of these authors wind up substantially redefining the type of hate appropriate for

God even while insisting on translating the word that way; the first two assume that

Paul is simply adopting a common Jewish interpretation, without dealing with the

question of its appropriateness for Malachi.

52 See esp. J. A. Thompson, "Israel's 'Haters,'" VT 29 (1979) 200-5.

53 See esp. S. L. McKenzie and H. N. Wallace, "Covenant Themes in Malachi,"

CBQ 45 (1983) 549-63.

54 E.g., R. Smith, Micah-Malachi, 305; Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 222-

23; C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the

Romans (2 voIs.; Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1975-1979) 2. 480. Similarly G. C. Berkouwer

Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     111


B. Usage in Romans


Paul Jewett suggests that the interpretive bias resulting from

one's theological traditions affects commentators on Romans 9 as

much as on any other passage of Scripture.55 A survey of studies of

this chapter, sadly, does not call Jewett's verdict into question. Yet

surely the undisputed meaning of the passage in Malachi should be

given at least a priori preference before interpreters attempt to explain

Paul's use of the OT in some less than straightforward manner. If a

NT text can make sense in light of the plain meaning of the OT

passages it cites, one should not complicate matters by introducing

new interpretations. This is especially crucial here in light of the fact

that Paul specifically chose to refer to the choice of Israel via an OT

text which can only be interpreted in one way, rather than limiting

himself to texts from the Genesis narrative which can be taken to

refer either to individuals or nations.56

Can Rom 9:13 be seen as a reference to the corporate and

temporal selection of Israel and rejection of Edom? This verse plays

a crucial role in Paul's developing argument in chaps. 9-11 on the role

of Israel in God's plans since the beginning of the proclamation of the

gospel,57 and more immediately in Paul's attempt in 9:1-2958 to deal

with the question of why so many Israelites have not responded


(Divine Election [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960] 72 and n. 29) who stresses that his

translation of "to prefer" and "not to prefer" has nothing whatever to do with any

Arminian tendencies. On God's "hating" more generally as not an emotion so much as a

rejection in will and deed, see O. Michel, "mise<w," TDNT, 4.687.

55 Jewett, Election, 67.

56 So, e.g., Cranfield, Romans, 479; F.-J. Leenhardt, L'epitre de saint Paul aux

Romains (Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestle, 1957) 142. Some have suggested that Paul's

choice of Mal 1:2-3 to complement Gen 25:23 simply followed the rabbinic practice of

citing both the Torah arid the Prophets to prove a particular point (e.g., E. Kasemann,

Commentary on Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980] 264), but this would still not

explain the choice of this particular prophetic passage, since numerous others also deal

with these topics.

57 On the structure of these chapters more generally, especially in light of their

use of the OT, see J. W. Aageson, "Scripture and Structure in the Development of the

Argument in Romans 9-11," CBQ 48 (1986) 265-89; F. Siegert, Argumentation bei

Paulus gezeigt an Rom 9-11 (Tiibingen: Mohr, 1985); C. A. Evans, "Paul and the

Hermeneutics of 'True Prophecy': A Study of Rom. 9-11," Bib 65 (1984) 560-70.

58 A glaring weakness of Piper, Justification, is his failure to include vv 24-29 in

his analysis. That this context forms the proper boundaries for an analysis of v 13 is

further confirmed by recent studies which have shown that vv 6-29 form a tightly knit

unity following the rabbinic form known as a proem midrash. See esp. E. Earle Ellis,

Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 155;

W. R. Stegner, "Romans 9:6-29-A Midrash," JSNT 22 (1984) 37-52.


positively to that proclamation.59 In 9:6 Paul specifically raises the

potential protest that the word of God might have failed. Paul

responds to this objection by arguing that true Israel has never been

coterminous with physical Israel; there has always been only a

remnant of Jews in any given generation who received God's covenant

blessings (cf. v 27). In Paul's day that remnant is equivalent to all

Jewish Christians.60 In earlier eras, illustrations of the remnant prin-

ciple have included the choice of only one of Abraham's sons (9:6-9)

and only one of Isaac's sons (vv 10-13) to be recipients of the

covenant blessings. More broadly, a principle is at work throughout

history where God bestows his mercy and wrath as he wills, and not

through human merit (vv 14-16). This principle emerges not only in

the Abraham and Isaac narratives but also in the accounts of God's

dealings with Moses and Pharaoh (vv 17-18).

When the logic of these verses is sketched in this fashion, no

reference to eternal, individual predestination either to salvation or

damnation comes into play until at least v 21, nor is such a reference

needed to make sense of the passage. Vv 21-23 may reflect a stronger

kind of predestination, though, since at this point in his argument

Paul is speaking of those who accept or reject the gospel, and the

accompanying "new covenant" blessings are certainly both individual

and eternal. If that is the case, then one must ask if in fact this

broader concept of election has been implicit all along or if Paul is

now contradicting his earlier teaching. One option, of course, is to see

Paul shifting gears in the middle of the chapter, irrespective of

consistency, but this view not viable for those with a high view of

Scripture, nor is it fair even for interpreters of other convictions to

treat as profound and nuanced a thinker as Paul in such cavalier

fashion.61 At the same time, it is not clear that such a shift from

temporal to eternal election is necessarily self-contradictory;62 both

kinds could well be specific examples of a more general principle-


59 L. Gaston ("Israel's Enemies in Pauline Theology," NTS 28 [1982] 411) protests

that although this explanation of the transition from Romans 1-8 to 9-11 is widely held,

it is never explicitly stated by Paul and therefore indefensible. Any attempt to apply

such a logically fallacious principle on a wider scale would result in massive exegetical


60 It is important to realize that at least until v 18 no reference to Gentile

Christians explicitly occurs. They are not specifically mentioned until v 25, where it

becomes clear that God's people are now, in Christ, a combination of Jew and Gentile.

61 J. E. Barnhart ("Every Context Has a Context," SJT 33 [1980] 502) stresses that

consistency is only required by inerrantists, a point which needs strongly to be disputed.

62 Contra Piper (Justification, 46, 52-53) who argues that a reference to individuals

in the latter part of the passage must imply a reference to individuals in the former.


Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     113


that God dispenses his mercy as he sees fit, in all types of situations-

and it is precisely this overarching truth to which 9:15 points.63

But the case can be made even more persuasively. Assuming that

vv 22-23 do refer to individuals' eternal salvation and damnation,64

two important observations disclose the asymmetrical nature of Paul's

statements about the two kinds of people. The "vessels of mercy"

have been specifically prepared by God and that preparation has

occurred "beforehand." The "vessels of wrath," however, are simply

in a state of readiness for destruction, with the one responsible for

that condition left unexpressed and with no temporal prefix attached

to the verb (katarti<zw) rather than prohtoima<zw).65 2 Tim 2:20-21

contains wording strongly reminiscent of these verses, but suggests

that vessels prepared for dishonor can, if they become clean, be

transformed into honorable vessels. Thus if a doctrine of predestina-

tion is to be derived from Rom 9:21-23, it can only be one of single

rather than double predestination.66 Yet in 9:13 Paul refers to a bipolar

process of irrevocable selection and rejection. Unless one is to argue

that Paul has contradicted himself, therefore, that earlier process

must be seen to refer to something other than eternal, unalterable


Vv 6-9 and 14-18 reinforce this conclusion, when one examines

the original contexts of the OT references employed. Nothing in the

OT suggests that either Ishmael or Pharaoh was eternally damned,

though unlike with Esau, nothing suggests positively their restoration

to God's favor either. What the passages Paul uses do teach is that

Isaac shall be the ancestor of those of Abraham's offspring who will

inherit God's promises concerning a nation, a great name, and a

blessing to all the peoples of the earth (Gen 21:12; cf. 12:1-3), that

this son will be born to Abraham and Sarah despite their advanced

age (Gen 18:10-14), that Esau would serve Jacob (Gen 25:23), as

transpired once he sold his birthright to his younger brother, and that


63 Cf. R. Smith, Micah-Malachi, 306-7.

64 Even this assumption can be disputed. See esp. W. W. Klein's forthcoming

monograph on the doctrine of election in the NT.

65 Cf. E. F. Harrison, "Romans," Expositor's Bible Commentary (12 vols.; ed.

F. Gaebelein, 1976) 10. 107; Cranfield, Romans, 492-97.

66 On the doctrine of single predestination more generally, see esp. D. P. Scaer,

"The Doctrine of Election: A Lutheran Note," Perspectives on Evangelical Theology I

(ed. K. S. Kantzer and S. N. Gundry; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979) 105-15; and cf. D.

Moody, The Word of Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981) 341; and F. L. Fisher,

The Purpose of God and the Christian Life (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962) 92-112.

See now also B. Demarest and G. Lewis, Integrative Theology (3 vols.; Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 1987-) 1. 293-335.



Pharaoh's hardheartedness in refusing to let the Israelites leave Egypt

would lead to successively greater miracles (culminating in the

Exodus), thereby proclaiming the greatness of God's name and glory

to all the earth (Exod 9:16).

The most significant remaining objections to this "temporal"67

interpretation of Rom 9:13 must now be addressed. They include: (1)

Paul's language in 9:8 ("children of God," "children of the promise")

is elsewhere primarily used for Christians" so more than just the

earthly OT promises must be in view.68 (2) The choice of a given

people to receive God's earthly blessings strongly predisposes them

to be receptive to God's eternal blessings. To put it another way,

surely a much greater percentage of Jews than Gentiles were "saved"

in OT times, thus revealing the artificiality of divorcing eternal from

temporal gifts.69 (3) Regardless of their wider contexts, the actual

passages Paul has chosen to quote refer exclusively to individuals not

to collectives, rendering the national view of election suspect.70 (4)

Election in the NT should always be interpreted as election in Christ

to salvation (cf., e.g., Eph 1:4). Neither temporal nor reprobational

interpretations focus on the core of the doctrine.71

The problem with objection (1) is that it proves too much.

Elsewhere, admittedly, Paul uses "children of God (or of the

promise)" to refer to all Christians--Jews and Gentiles (cf. Gal 3:26-

29; 4:21-31; Rom 2:25-29). But such meaning here would subvert his

intention to point out the perennial existence of a remnant within

Judaism (see esp. n. 60 above).72 Immediate context must always take

precedence over usage elsewhere. Objection (2) may be accepted in

part, but unless it is applied deterministically, it does not threaten the

temporal interpretation of the passages at hand. Paul's entire thrust in

the opening chapters of Romans is to deny that any are unaccountable

before God, Jew and Gentile alike. And the rebellion of so many


67 Phrasing it this way, rather than emphasizing the corporate or national nature

of OT election, avoids the relatively convincing counterargument that it is impossible

to predestine groups of individuals without predestining at least one individual within

each group (to ensure that someone exists in order to form the "group").

68 So esp. Piper, Justification, 48-52.

69 So, e.g., Murray, Romans, 17-19; C. Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the

Romans (1886; reprinted, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950) 310.

70 So, e.g., Piper, Justification, 40, 46-47. Cf. Johns, Election, 9.

71 So, classically, K. Barth, Church Dogmatics, 2.2. 3-506; summarized by

G. Bromiley, An Introduction to the Theology of Karl Barth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,.

1979) 86-98. Cf. also M. Barth, The People of God (Sheffield: ISOT, 1983); and C. K.

Barrett, Romans (New York: Harper & Row, 1957) 183.

72 So esp. Gaston, "Israel's Enemies," 415; and, less unequivocally, Munck, Christ

and Israel, 36-37.


Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     115


individuals in so many generations of OT Jews could make the cynic

wonder how much of a "better chance for salvation" they actually

had! Objection (3) poses a false dichotomy. Options for interpretation

are not limited to the views which see all Israel or only individuals

within Israel as the elect; Paul is taking a mediating position and

defining election in terms of the corporate concept of a remnant.73

Point (3) also avoids the full force of the position it contests by

viewing it primarily as a collective or national rather than temporal or

earthly election. The Barthian approach of (4) depends on numerous

exegetical and theological decisions, the investigation of which lie

well beyond the scope of this short study. Jewett's brief but incisive

critique aptly summarizes its major strengths and weaknesses; suffice

it to say that it has not found widespread support among interpreters

of either Calvinist, Arminian or various intermediate traditions, largely

because of its incipient universalism.74

The most glaring weakness of the view which interprets Rom

9:13 as teaching double predestination to salvation or damnation is its

utter failure to handle adequately the text of Malachi 1. For less

conservative interpreters this poses no problem; E. Kasemann, for

example, is refreshingly candid when he explains of Gen 25:23 and

Mal 1:2-3 in Romans 9 that "the quotations are taken out of their

context and its sense is disregarded. For Paul is no longer concerned

with two peoples and their destiny, but timelessly with the election

and rejection of two persons who are elevated as types."75 Ironically,

J. Piper's robust, evangelical defense of the traditional Calvinist inter-

pretation of Rom 9:1-23 draws upon Kasemann's exegesis more than

that of any other commentator on 9:13 without once interacting with

Kasemann's first sentence just cited or admitting the contradiction

involved.76 Approaches which fall back on a hermeneutic that speaks

of Paul as the OT's authoritative interpreter either beg the question at

hand or presuppose an unfalsifiable fideistic position which renders

OT exegesis irrelevant. 77

A second lacuna is the regular omission of any consideration of

single predestination as a viable explanation of Rom 9:22-23. Many

Calvinists and Arminians alike simply assume that election and repro-

bation stand or fall together and therefore never interact with an


73 Cf. W. D. Davies, Jewish and Pauline Studies (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984) 132.

Contra H. Hubner, Gottes Ich und Israel: Zum Schriftgebrauch des Paulus in

Romer 9-11 (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1984) 22.

74 Jewett, Election, 47-56.

75 Kasemann, Romans, 264.

76 Piper, Justification, 46, 52-53, 228-29, nn. 25-26.

77 So, e.g., Barnhart, "Context," 502.



important possible alternative.78 To be sure it is not easy to see how

one may simultaneously affirm that God elects those who are saved

and maintain that those who are damned are entirely responsible for

their own fate, but these two statements so fundamentally encapsulate

major strands of biblical teaching that neither may fairly be denied.79

The apparent tension is similar to that which surrounds divine sover-

eignty and human responsibility more generally, a tension which

cannot be shown to be either necessarily contradictory or obviously

compatible, but which best summarizes numerous passages in which

both doctrines are sharply juxtaposed.80 In both cases, the distinction

between necessity and certainty may point the way toward an


It would be easy to digress far beyond the bounds set by analysis

of Malachi in the NT. Suffice it to conclude that if any predestination

is in view in these verses it is, as U. Wilckens phrases it, salvation-

historical and not cosmological.82 Or as H. Ridderbos admits, despite

his heritage in the Reformed tradition, Paul has here the continuation

of the holy line of the people of God in view rather than any election

or reprobation to eternal destiny.83 Here, if ever, historical and con-

textual exegesis must set strict boundaries which systematic theology

may not be permitted to transgress.84




Two explicit citations of a given OT work scarcely lead to any

generalizations about "the use of Malachi in the New Testament." But


78 Thus, e.g., Jewett, a Calvinist, declares that "election obviously implies rejec-

tion" (Election, 26) and never again raises the question. R. Shank, an Arminian,

succeeds in spending 44 pages (Elect in the Son [Springfield, MO: Westcott, 1970]

108-52) discussing conditional election with special reference to Romans 9 without

even considering single predestination once, despite frequent citations of its supporters

when they side with Shank in opposing the Calvinist doctrine of reprobation.

79 E. Brandenburger ("Paulinische Schriftauslegung in der Kontroverse urn das

Verheissungsworth Gottes [Rom 9]," STK 82 [1985] 1-47) helpfully stresses how Paul's

teaching on predestination develops directly from his teaching on justification (which

stresses both of these statements), rather than vice-versa.

80 See esp. D. A. Carson, Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility (Atlanta:

John Knox, 1981).

81 See, e.g., M. J. Erickson, Christian Theology 3 vols.; Grand Rapids: Baker,

1983-85) 1. 356-62.

82 U. Wilckens, Der Brief an die Romer (3 vols.; Neukirchen- Vluyn: Neukirchener;

Zurich: Benziger, 1978-82) 2. 195-96.

83 H. Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of his Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,

1975) 344.

84 Cf. D. E. H. Whiteley, The Theology of St. Paul (Oxford: Blackwell, 1974) 96.

Blomberg: MALACHI IN THE NEW TESTAMENT                     117


each citation by itself plays an integral role in the passages in which it

is embedded, and correct understanding of the OT text is crucial to

valid exegesis of the larger NT context. As so often in studies of the

use of the OT in the NT, commentators generally jump too quickly to

the assumption that the NT writers were not concerned with valid

exegesis in their appropriation of Scriptural materials. Not surpris-

ingly, therefore, only a minority of modern studies takes the time to

build on a carefully laid foundation of OT interpretation when treat-

ing the application of its texts by the New. The relationship between

the testaments is arguably the least satisfactorily resolved issue in

contemporary evangelical scholarship and the most pressing problem

for those who would defend a high view of Scripture, though it is

often not perceived as such. Hopefully this brief look at two per-

plexing passages from Malachi may contribute constructively to the

ongoing study of this relationship.85



85 I would like to express my hearty thanks to my colleagues Gordon Lewis,

Bruce Demarest, Bill Klein, and Bob Alden for their reading of and helpful comments

on a previous draft of this paper.




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