The prophet Malachi is a shadowy figure, cloaked in mystery. No one is sure precisely who he was or where he came from. It is also unknown whether or not he penned the book that contains his prophecies.
Prophesying sometime between the late sixth and fifth centuries BC, just prior to or during the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah, it was a time of despondency among the Israelites. Their captivity in Babylon had ended, but they returned to a country that was backwards and impoverished. Worship had become rote, boring, and meaningless. God’s promises of restoration and a messiah were yet to be fulfilled.
It was against this backdrop that Malachi called the people to a renewed passion for God.
Of literary note, Malachi is the only prophetic book written entirely in prose. Most Old Testament prophecy was written down in the form of poetry. The book is divided into six sections, each containing an accusation by God or Malachi, an anticipated rebuttal from the audience (always begun with the phrase, “But you say”), and finally a fuller explanation of the problem by God or Malachi.
For Further Study
Handbook on the Prophets