Wednesday, 13 May 2015
If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! 1 Corinthians 16:22
This seems like an unusually harsh sentiment for Paul to introduce as he concludes his letter, but the entire content of the letter has been of doctrine, correction, and reproof. In chapter 15, he clearly laid out the truth of Christ’s ministry, from the gospel itself all the way through its implication for man. If man accepts the gospel, he moves from death to life. If not, he remains spiritually dead and he will be destroyed, just as Death and Hades will be destroyed.
As an indication of Paul’s intent, the word for “love” here is phileo not agape. This is a warm sort of love spoken of rather than the deeper “godly” and “reverent” love which agape normally refers to. And so to understand Paul’s intent, we can first go back to verse 20 which said, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” In that verse, the word for “kiss” is philéma, a word with the same root as phileo. Paul is probably tying the two words together in an emotional way.
The body of believers is to have the same heart for the Lord as they have for one another. It is not enough to be a tightly knit group of people who work well together, but to be one that is committed to the work and love of the Lord. If believers are willing to kiss one another and yet not kiss the Son, then their love is a misdirected love. In such an instance, Paul says “let him be accursed.” The word from which this is translated is anathema. Properly, it means “a thing devoted to God.” The implication then is something that is accursed. There is to be no association with such a person within the fellowship because he has no true part in the fellowship.
Finally, Paul closes the thought with, “O Lord, come!” It is translated from the Aramaic words marana and tha. Taken together, we say maranatha, meaning “Lord come!” Some translators use them in the past tense – “Our Lord has come!” Others in the future – “Our Lord is coming!” Others simply use the Aramaic to avoid choosing one over the other. The Lord has come and the Lord is coming again. Whichever Paul was thinking, he has proclaimed it after pronouncing his curse. Because of this, the Geneva Bible gives this thought –
“Let him be accursed even to the coming of the Lord, that is to say, to the day of his death, even for ever.”
Life application: There are times where imprecations are appropriate. Far too many Christians fail to relay the truly serious nature of the gospel. There is one path to God and only one. Without Jesus Christ, there is only death and hell ahead. For those who understand this and yet fail to love the Lord, they are to be treated as outsiders in relation to the church. Unless they change their hearts towards Him, they are accursed.
Lord God, help me to be firm in my convictions concerning biblical truths. There are many things in the Bible which we don’t want to consider because of some personal issue. Because of this, we often align our friendships with what we want rather than what the Bible says. And so Lord, do I hold to the Bible or is it more important to be their friend? In such times, give me the resolve to place Your word above all else. I know that in this I am showing my highest love to You, and this is my desire. Thank You for being with me in this. Amen.