Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, he is coming,” says Yahweh of Hosts. Malachi 3:1
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways. Luke 1:76
The Trinitarian Claim
Trinitarians claim that since John the Baptist went before God, and John the Baptist went before Jesus, then Jesus must be that God.
The Claim vs. The Facts
Trinitarians interpret this verse as if God stayed home in heaven and doddled away while Jesus did everything. However, just the opposite is true. The Scriptural facts tell us that God the Father abiding in Jesus did the works (John 14:10; Acts 2:22). In Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). God get's his work done through His Anointed One, His Christ. In this way, John came to pave the way for God the Father.
The Problem with the Claim
1. The Lord
"The Lord" in this passage is a different word than "the LORD." The former is used of men such as David in the Scriptures. The latter ("LORD") is only used of the God of Israel and comes from the Hebrew word Adonai, a replacement word for YHWH which Jews would not utter.
2. Trinitarian Imagination vs. Scriptural Facts
This passage is usually quoted by Trinitarians for the same reasons they quote Luke 1:76.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways. Luke 1:76
Trinitarians see that John the Baptist goes before the Lord God to prepare the way for the Lord God. Since John the Baptist went before Jesus, they suppose this must be an allusion to Jesus being identified as the Lord. However, this is what happens when you appeal to your imagination rather than the Scriptural facts.
Jesus was God's Christ, His Anointed. God gets things done through His Anointed One. Jesus tells us that he came in the name of his Father not to do his own will but his Father's will. He even tells us that his words and works and not his own but the Father's who sent him. In fact, he also tells us that the Father abiding in him did the works (Jn 14:10; cf. Matthew 12:28) as does Peter (Acts 2:22; 10:38). God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). In this way, God the Father was about to do mighty works in the land of Israel and He sent John the Baptist (Jn 1:6) to prepare His way.
3. His Temple
What are Trinitarians thinking exactly when they read "the Lord will come to his temple"? It seems they are imagining Jesus is heading off to the stone temple in Jerusalem. But this is not the language of Scripture. In Scripture, the Lord coming to his temple refers to the Spirit of God and His glory descending into the Temple.
Jesus did not refer to the Temple in Jerusalem as "my Temple." He referred to it as "my Father's house" (john 2:16). Furthermore, the Temple to which God came was not the stone temple but the body of Jesus Christ. God the Father tabernacled in the human flesh of Jesus when the Spirit of the Father descended upon him. For that reason, Jesus referred to the Father abiding in him. Jesus was the Temple of God. In the same way, the Bible informs us that we, Christians, the body of Christ, are the Temple of God because the Spirit of God dwells in us.
Analysis of the Facts
1. "My messenger"
In the New Testament, John the Baptist is clearly God's messenger who will prepare His way before Him.
There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. John 1:6; cf. 1:33.
But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, "Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way before You." Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Matthew 11:9-11; see Luke 7:27-28; Mark 1:2-4.
2. Basic Reading Comprehension
The passage really isn't that difficult to interpret and understand.
Behold, I [God the Father] am going to send My messenger [John the Baptist], and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord [the Father], whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple [Jesus]; and the messenger of the covenant [Jesus], in whom you delight, behold, he [Jesus] is coming,” says Yahweh of Hosts.
The Lord came to his temple when the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus. The promise of the Spirit is an extremely important promise in the Bible.
And behold, I am sending forth the promise of my Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on High.”
Gathering them together, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the promise of the Father, "Which," He said, "you heard of from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.... you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." Acts 1:4-5,8
Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. Acts 2:33
See also Acts 2:16ff. and Joel 2:28ff.
3. God's Temple
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.
what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 2 Corinthians 6:16.
Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:20-21.
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:4-5
3. God's Temple is the Father's House
The Bible makes it quite clear that the Temple is the Father's house.
Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?
Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a marketplace. John 2:16
Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a son over His house - whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. Hebrews 3:5
The meaning of this passage is not difficult to interpret if we only appreciate the Scriptural facts. God the Father is the speaker at Malachi 3:1. He refers to his messenger John the Baptist. He says John the Baptist will clear the way for Him. John the Baptist did clear the way for God the Father; God the Father did mighty works in Israel by means of His Anointed One, Jesus. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:19). The Father also says the Lord will come to his temple. Jesus tells us the temple is his Father's house. Jesus is the messenger of the covenant since he came in the name of the Father as the Father's messenger and apostle (see Heb 3:1).
Created: February 24, 2016
Last Revision/Update: February 24, 2016