The book of Malachi is the last of the twelve Minor Prophets, and little is known of the author himself aside from what may be inferred from the contents of his book. Unlike Haggai and Zechariah, Malachi prophesied sometime after the completion of the temple in 515 BC. In fact, it appears that Malachi prophesied over fifty years after Haggai and Zechariah. Like Haggai and Zechariah, Malachi ministered during a difficult period of time, but the problems he faced were slightly different. It had been decades since the temple had been completed, yet the glories of the messianic kingdom had not arrived as expected. But neither had the people lived up to the stipulations of God’s law (cf. Nehemiah). Politically, Israel was a minor province in the massive Persian Empire. The nation was suffering from economic and agricultural problems. The most serious problem, however, from the prophet’s perspective was spiritual. Idolatry was apparently no longer a serious problem, but the people lacked zeal for the Lord. Spiritual discouragement and apathy were rampant. Malachi was called into this situation to explain the delay in the fulfillment of God’s restoration promises. There are a number of helpful commentaries on the book of Malachi, and the following are five of the best.
1. Thomas E. McComiskey — The Minor Prophets (2009 ).
The commentary on Malachi in this volume was written by Douglas Stuart, whose WBC volume on Hosea–Jonah is outstanding. This commentary continues that excellence. One only wishes he had written commentaries on the rest of the Minor Prophets. As mentioned in previous posts, the McComiskey volume is somewhat technical.
2. Anthony R. Petterson — Haggai, Zechariah & Malachi (Apollos Old Testament Commentary, 2015).
I had to place Petterson’s commentary in the second spot for Haggai because of Alec Motyer and again here because of Douglas Stuart, but it is a tough call in all three cases. This is a very helpful commentary.
3. Iain Duguid — Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (EP Study Commentary, 2010).
Anything written by Iain Duguid is worth reading, and this commentary is no exception. Here he brings exceptional insight to these neglected biblical books.
4. Pieter Verhoef — The Books of Haggai and Malachi (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, 1987).
Verhoef’s commentary on Malachi in the NICOT series is somewhat more technical than most of the NICOT commentaries, but it is less technical than Stuart’s, mentioned above. It remains accessible to the non-specialist. For those who lack a knowledge of Hebrew and are seeking a thorough commentary on Malachi, this volume is highly recommended. Verhoef’s commentary will likely become more scarce now that it has been replaced in the NICOT series with the commentary by Mignon Jacobs.
5. John Mackay — Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Focus on the Bible, 2003).
Another very helpful introductory-level commentary on Malachi is the one by John Mackay in the Focus on the Bible series. Mackay’s commentary will be particularly helpful for pastors seeking a way to communicate the meaning of this book to a contemporary audience.
There are a number of other helpful commentaries on the book of Malachi, including those by Ralph Smith, Joyce Baldwin, Andrew Hill, Peter Adam, T.V. Moore, James Boice, Richard Taylor, David Baker, John Benton, and Walter Kaiser. Allen P. Ross’s Malachi Then and Now is a commentary for Hebrew students that is very useful.
Helpful Related Works
Pastors may also find Michael Williams’ Hidden Prophets of the Bible helpful on Malachi and the other Minor Prophets.
This article is part of the Top 5 Commentaries collection.