Jun 9, 2013

Titles for God in Malachi

Jimmy Millikin, in his discussion on the theology of Malachi notes the following in relation to the titles used for God in the book.

"Three significant titles for God are found in Malachi–father (1:6; 2:10), master (1:6), and king (1:14). None of these are unique to Malachi. That God is father of his covenant people is an undisputable truth found throughout the Old Testament. This father-son relationship was declared at the beginning of the Exodus (Ex. 4:22, 23), and afterward was stated explicitly a number of times (Dt. 32:6; Is. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4, 19; Ps. 89:27). However, some have thought that Malachi introduces a new dimension to Yahweh’s fatherhood in his question in 2:10: “Have we not all one father?” This is taken by some to be a preparation for the idea of the universal “fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man” supposedly taught by Jesus, a concept found nowhere else in the Old Testament. But the context clearly reveals that the question in 2:10 is applicable only to God’s particular covenant relationship to Israel. “Malachi’s point of reference is indisputably his fellow Jews” (Verhoef, p. 266).

"The titles “master” and “king” guard against misusing the title “father” to become overly familiar with Yahweh. The word “master” denotes the owner of a slave or servant. As such he is to be honored and feared. The adjective “great” is used with “king” to magnify Yahweh’s greatness and the reverence that is due his name. This composite picture of Father-master-king serves to guard against “over-familiarity one the one hand and a too distant subjection on the other” (Baldwin, p. 217)."

Jimmy A. Millikin, “The Theology of Malachi,” Mid-America Theological Journal 11:1 (1987): 72–73.


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