In Matthew 11:10 (ESV):

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

In Malachi 3:1 (ESV):

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,”

Is the me/you change because it is from Jesus's perspective? If not, why the change?

  • 1
    Mark also records this and it is important to note that emphasis. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 19 at 0:39

2 Answers 2


Matthew reports the words of Jesus regarding the specifics noted in the question and Mark takes this up in the opening verses of his own account.

In the opening verses of his gospel account, the evangelist, Mark, quotes twice from the Hebrew scriptures. He quotes, first, from the lesser prophet (Malachi being a 'lesser' than Isaiah, in certain terms) and, first, from the later prophecy (the book of Malachi coming some three hundred years after Isaiah's publication, which had significant precedence).

Thus, Mark draws attention to Malachi by quoting out of sequence to what might have been expected in terms of precedence and significance.

Mark changes one letter of what might have been (it cannot be said categorically) a quotation from the Septuagint, and in so doing he follows Jesus wording in regard to the same prophecy.

Jesus says 'my messenger' (μου) before 'thy face' (σου), who shall prepare 'thy way' (σου) before 'thee' (σου), Matthew 11:10. TR, undisputed.

Thus Jesus (followed by Mark) adds to the revelation of Malachi who states, in Hebrew, 'my messenger' before 'my face'.

Thus God says to the prophet 'my' way before 'my' face and Jesus re-states, with further definition and revelation 'thy' way before 'thy' face.

The Messenger of the Covenant, of whom Malachi prophesies, is the Lord himself. And the Lord himself is sent by Him who says 'I will prepare thy way before thy face' (as re-stated by Jesus of Nazareth and then re-stated by Mark in the introduction to his gospel account).

It becomes clear in the opening verses of Mark that a singular Messenger is being sent who will prepare the way before the Lord himself in an unprecedented manner.

And who may abide the day of his coming ? Malachi 3:2. And who shall stand when he appeareth ? He is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap.

There is a burning, and John was, indeed, a burning and a shining light, John 5:35. There is a purging and a cleansing :

Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. [Matthew 3:12 KJV]

The Messiah, when he comes, preceded by a previous messenger, will come with unprecedented force and with unparalleled consequence.

This is the beginning of the gospel.

  • So essentially Jesus is quoting it from the perspective of the Lord to the Messenger of the covenant (Jesus)? And via Isaiah 40 in Mark, we find that the Lord and the Messenger of the covenant are one in the same?
    – User2280
    Commented Feb 19 at 3:26
  • 4
    @User2280 Yes indeed, but Jesus changes the quotation, changing the pronoun, to reveal more of the Messenger as to Whom he really is. 'My' face to 'Thy' face reveals something about the relationship of the Messenger to God who sends Him.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 19 at 6:59
  • So, Jesus is borrowing from OT literature, like Steve Jobs at Stanford saying, "...even if it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference," is a clear application of Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. But, we only know that if we ourselves have some insight into the original languages and literature as Jesus and his students did. This is great!
    – Jesse
    Commented Feb 19 at 17:34

In addition to needing to being familiar with the larger collection of literature Jesus refers to, consider these verses...

While it doesn't change anything, it may be easier to make sense of if read in order of history that they most likely occur:

Psalm 110 (NASB)

The Lord says to my Lord:

Malachi 3:1 (NASB)

Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me...

Matthew 11:10 (NASB)

‘Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way before You.’

Matthew 22:44 (NASB)

‘The Lord said to my Lord,

John 20:21 (NASB)

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

This includes a lot of sending someone who sends someone. In that, the "me" → "you" is going to make even more sense.

And, with all the poetic references that Nigel points out, we definitely start to get an overall tone that the sending is a progressive baton continually passed on.

  1. This is the hermeneutic where we use Scripture itself as a hermeneutic to interpret other Scripture.
  2. Another factor is that Jews in the NT slightly changed words when quoting Old Testament all the time. While we don't do this, they did, among other reasons, because: a. they didn't have chapter-verse references and b. in one single statement they could make their application point while also indicating the OT Scripture they were supporting it with.

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