1 Cor. 16:22 and "Anathema Maranatha"

© 1997, 1999 by T.L. Hubeart Jr.

1Cor 16:22 (KJV) If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

A.T. Robertson in Word Pictures in the New Testament says that "It was a curious blunder in the King James Version that connected Maran atha with Anathema." I would suggest that the "curious blunder" is rather Robertson's for not considering the very real reasons for the connection:

  1. William Tyndale's New Testament (1534) had first connected the words and explicitly glossed the expression with the words "The same be accursed at the Lord's coming."
  2. The Geneva Bible (1599 ed.) does likewise, with the rendering "let him be had in execration marana-tha" (no punctuation after "execration" in either the 1599 whole Bible or 1607 NT facsimiles I have), and the marginal remark,

"By these words, is betokened the severest kind of curse and excommunication that was amongst the Iewes: and the words are as much to say, as our Lord commeth: So that his meaning may be this, Let him be accursed euen to the comming of the Lord, that is to say, to his deaths day, euen for euer."sorrow5.jpg

This seems a refinement of the makeshift reading given in the 1560 Geneva ed.: "let him be had in execration, yea excommunicate to death," with the marginal note in front of the italicized words, "Or, Maranatha."

  1. John Wesley in his Explanatory Notes on the New Testament writes that

Maran-atha-Anathema signifies a thing devoted to destruction. It seems to have been customary with the Jews of that age, when they had pronounced any man an Anathema, to add the Syriac expression, Maran-atha, that is, 'The Lord cometh;' namely, to execute vengeance upon him. This weighty sentence the apostle chose to write with his own hand; and to insert it between his salutation and solemn benediction, that it might be the more attentively regarded.

  1. Strong's Concordance under G3134 remarks that the Aramaic expression "maranatha" is "an exclamation of the approaching divine judgment." And the Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge affirms the fearfulness of the judgment in remarking, "That is, 'Let him be accursed; our Lord cometh,' i.e., to execute the judgment denounced."
  2. The translation by Joseph Agar Beet in his commentary (Beet's Notes on Romans through Colossians and Philemon) also has no period after "anathema," and of the verse Beet remarks,

. . . That these words are used as a warning implies that 'has come' refers to Christ's coming in judgment. In prophetic vision the church looked upon the moment of His appearance as though it had already come. This anticipation of the coming of Him who comes to destroy (1 Thess. 5:3) those who love Him not, Paul uses to support the curse just pronounced.

The "curious blunder" made by Robertson in criticizing the KJV without examining reasons for its rendering is, unfortunately, made all too often by those who would rather make a splash as "learned" than teach the word of God.

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