One bearing a message, either oral or written, or one sent on an errand. (Ge 32:3-6; Jg 6:34, 35; 11:12-27; 2Sa 5:11; 1Ki 19:2; 2Ki 19:8-14; Lu 7:18-24; 9:52) At times runners served in this capacity. (2Ch 30:6-10; Jer 51:31) For more rapid communication messengers were dispatched on horses. (2Ki 9:17-19; Es 8:10-14; see COURIER.) Messengers of ancient times included heralds who publicly proclaimed royal or state decrees. (Da 3:4-6; 5:29) Messengers might be sent to sue for peace (Isa 33:7), to request military assistance (2Ki 16:7; 17:4), or to demand tribute or the surrender of a city (1Ki 20:1-9; 2Ki 18:17-35). They were accorded freedom of passage to accomplish their mission. A mistreatment of royal messengers sent on a courtesy visit to another nation was serious enough to precipitate war.
Both the Hebrew and the Greek words for “messenger” may refer to spirit messengers, or angels. (Ps 104:4; Joh 1:51) Whether human or angelic messengers are meant can be determined by the context. At Isaiah 63:9, for example, Jehovah’s “personal messenger” is evidently his angel, for this messenger saved the Israelites.
Besides using angelic messengers to convey information to men and women on earth and to accomplish other tasks (see ANGEL), Jehovah has repeatedly employed human messengers. His prophets and priests were his messengers to the nation of Israel. (2Ch 36:15, 16; Hag 1:13; Mal 2:7) The statements of his prophets were certain of fulfillment, for Jehovah is “the One that carries out completely the counsel of his own messengers.”
“Messenger of the Covenant.” In fulfillment of Malachi 3:1, John the Baptizer appeared as the messenger who prepared the way before Jehovah by getting the Jews ready for the coming of God’s chief representative, Jesus Christ.
As the foretold “messenger of the covenant,” Jesus Christ came to the temple and cleansed it. (Mt 21:12, 13; Mr 11:15-17; Lu 19:45, 46) He evidently was the messenger of the Abrahamic covenant, for it was on the basis of this covenant that the Jews were the first ones to be granted the opportunity to become Kingdom heirs. This was the covenant to which Peter appealed when calling upon the Jews to repent. It is also noteworthy that John the Baptizer’s father, Zechariah, referred to the Abrahamic covenant in connection with Jehovah’s raising up ‘a horn of salvation in the house of David,’ this horn being the Messiah.