In 1 Corinthians 16:22, the Apostle Paul uses some very strong words. The Bible says: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. Maranatha!” Strong feelings call for strong words. Sometimes carnal Christians mistake passion for bigotry. A man or woman sitting on the fence looks over at the Man of God declaring truth on one side and calls him a “bigot” or a “Pharisee” because he has the courage to follow convictions. I know why carnal compromising Christians are always angry. They are angry because their backside is full of splinters from riding the fence so long. Paul’s use of these two strong words demand our closer attention.
Paul first announces that any not loving the Lord Jesus Christ is “anathema,” that is “accused.” Paul did not shy away from this word, for we also find it announced against those that preach another Gospel (Galatians 1). Paul was doing more than simply drawing the line, he was preaching the Gospel. To know the Lord Jesus Christ as presented in New Testament is to love Him. To not love Him is to not know Him thus confine yourself to a sinner’s hell because you reject His sacrifice on your behalf. Christ became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). If Christ does not bare your curse, then you must bare your own; therefore, if you do not love the Lord Jesus you are accused! Do not say “anathema” unless you mean it.
Paul secondly yells out “Maranatha!” with vibrant enthusiasm. This phrase was the battle cry of the early church. It means: “Oh, Lord come!” or “The Lord is coming!”. It was used as a greeting, farewell, or a passionate prayer. We have lost the urgency of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. We do not expect or desire that He quickly return, because we are in love with the world. These foolish feelings put us in direct disobedience to Scripture (1 John 2:15-17). No prophecy remains to be fulfilled before Christ raptures His church out of this world. Do not say “maranatha” unless you mean it.
Paul meant what he said. These are weak and malnourished days for the church. The prophesied state of the established church prior to the end is apostasy (1 Timothy 4/2 Timothy 3). We may not want strong words in these weak days, yet we need them. Truthfully, all the words in the Bible are strong words, because that are all inspired (2 Timothy 3:16). Do you understand that without accepting the love of the Lord Jesus Christ that you will be accursed for all eternity? Do you understand that He may return for His church at any moment? When that happens the absolute WORST days in the history of the world are right around the corner. Strong words make for strong Christians; weak words make for weak Christians. Which words will you use? Christ has strong words for sinners that He loves so very strongly. Maranatha!