An Outline of the Book of Malachi

The Prophet Malachi
Painting by Duccio di Buoninsegna
c. 1310-1311 (Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena Cathedral)

The book of the prophet Malachi is the last book of the Minor Prophets in the Protestant canon of the Old Testament. In the Hebrew Bible, Malachi appears in the section called “The Latter Prophets.”

The title of the book appears in the opening verse of the book: “The word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi” (Malachi 1:1). The meaning of the prophet’s name is “My Messenger.” The name “Malachi” does not appear as a personal name anywhere else in the Old Testament. For this reason, many scholars believe that the name is a title for the prophet. The name Malachi can also be translated as “My Messenger” and it is as such that the name is translated in Malachi 3:1: “I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me.”

In the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible, the book of Malachi has three chapters. The English versions of the book of Malachi follow the structure of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Thus, in our English Bibles, the Book of Malachi has four chapters.

Below is an outline of the book of Malachi. This outline is designed to help pastors and Bible teachers to preach and to teach from the book of Malachi.

1. Introduction, 1:1

a. The name of the prophet
b. The date of Malachi’s ministry
c. The ministry of Malachi

2. God’s Love for Israel, 1: 2·-5

a. The declaration of God’s love, 1:2a
b. The evidence of God’s love, 1:2b
c. The devastation of Edom, 1:3-4
(1) Yahweh has laid waste Edom’s hill country, v.3
(2) The arrogance of Edom, v.4
d. The praise of Israel, 1:5

3 The Condemnation of the Priesthood, 1:6-14

a. The unfaithfulness of the priests, 1:6
b. The indictment of the priesthood, 1:7-9
(1) The priests have polluted the altar, v. 7
(2) The priests have offered unacceptable sacrifices, v. 8
(3) The priests should repent, v. 9
c. Yahweh rejects the priests, 1:10
d. Gentiles offer a better sacrifice to Yahweh, 1:11
e. The profanation of God’s altar, 1:12-13
(1) The priests profane the altar by their insolent behavior, v.12
(2) The altar is profaned when priests reject their ministry, v.13
f. Yahweh is the great King, 1:14

4. The Violation of the Covenant, 2:1-9

a. The punishment of the priests, 2:1-3
(1) The prophet confronts the priests, v.1
(2) God appeals to the priests to listen, v.2
(3) The punishment of the priests, v.3
b. God’s covenant with Levi, 2:4-5
(1) God’s purpose in judging the priests, v.4
(2) God’s covenant with Levi: a covenant of life and peace, v.5
c. The ideal priest, 2:6-7
(1) The ideal priest is a true teacher, v.6
(2) The ideal priest is a messenger of Yahweh, v.7
d. God rejects unfaithful priests, 2:8-9
(1) Unfaithful priests cause people to stumble, v.8
(2) Unfaithful priests are despised by the people, v.9

5. The Unfaithfulness of Israel, 2:10-16

a. Unfaithfulness among brothers, 2:10
b. Unfaithful to God. 2:11-12
(1) The men of Judah have married heathen women, v. 11
(2) Yahweh will judge the people who condone unfaithfulness, v.12
c. Unfaithfulness in marriage, 2:13-16
(1) The rejection of offerings, v. 13
(2) Yahweh, a witness between husbands and wives, v.14
(3) God’s design for marriage, v. 15
(4) The problem of divorce, v. 16

6. The Justice of God and the Day of Yahweh, 2:17-3:5

a. The people have wearied God, 2:17
b. The coming of the Lord, 3:1
c. The purification of the priesthood, 3:2-3
(1) The refiner’s fire and the fullers’ soap, v.2
(2) The purifying of the sons of Levi, v .3
d.· The restoration of the priesthood, 3:4
e. Sinners before the Righteous Judge, 3:5

7. The Sin of Israel, 3:6-12

a. The faithfulness of God, 3:6
b. The apostasy of Israel, 3:7
c. Robbing God: tithes and offerings, 3:8
d. Israel is guilty before God, 3:9
e. God’s promise, 3:10-12
(1) “Bring the full tithe,” v.10a
(2) “Put me to the test,” v.10b
(3) God’s blessing, v. 11
(4) The result of faithfulness, v. 12

8. The Difference Between the Righteous and the Wicked, 3:13-18

a. The people’s words against God, 3:13
b. The people’s accusations against God, 3:14
c. The people’s reaction to the evildoers, 3:15
d. The book of remembrance, 3:16
e. The faithful people: God’s special treasure, 3:17
f. The difference between the righteous and the wicked, 3:18

9. The Day of Yahweh, 4:1-3

a. The Day of the Lord, 4:1
b. The Sun of Righteousness, 4:2
c. The destiny of the wicked, 4:3

10. Conclusion, 4:4-6

a. “Remember the Law of Moses,” 4:4
b. The Coming of Elijah
c. The Mission of Elijah


For a detailed introduction to the book of Malachi, read my article “Malachi and His Book.”

For a study of the book of remembrance and the difference of the righteous and the wicked (3:13-18), read my post “The Book of Remembrance.”

NOTE: For other studies on the Book of Malachi, read my article Studies on the Book of Malachi.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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