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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 16 - Verse 22
Verse 22. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a most solemn and affecting, close of the whole epistle. It was designed to direct them to the great and essential matter of religion, the love of the Lord Jesus; and was intended, doubtless, to turn away their minds from the subjects which had agitated them, the disputes and dissensions which had rent the church into factions, to the great inquiry whether they truly loved the-Saviour. It is implied that there was danger, in their disputes and strifes about minor matters, of neglecting the love of the Lord Jesus, or of substituting attachment to a party in the place of that love to the Saviour, which alone could be connected with eternal life.
The word properly means accursed, or devoted to destruction; and the idea here is, that he who did not believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him, would be, and ought to be, devoted to destruction, or accursed of God. It expresses what ought to be done; it expresses a truth in regard to God's dealings, not the desire of the apostle. No matter what any man's endowments might be; no matter what might be his wealth, his standing, or his talent; no matter if he were regarded as a ruler in the church, or at the head of a party; yet, if he had not true love to the Lord Jesus, he could not be saved. This sentiment is in accordance with the declaration of the Scripture everywhere. See, particularly, Joh 3:36; Mr 16:16; See Barnes "Mr 16:16".
Maran-atha. These are Syriac words, Moran Etho—" the Lord comes;" .i.e., will come. The reason why this expression is added may be,
(1.) to give the greater solemnity to the declaration of the apostle; i. e.,. to give it an emphatic form.
(2.) To intimate that, though there were no earthly power to punish a want of love to the Saviour; though the state could not, and ought not to punish it; and though the church could not exclude all who did not love the Lord Jesus from its bosom, yet they could not escape. For the Lord would himself come to take vengeance on his enemies; and no one could escape. Though, therefore, those who did not love the Lord Jesus could not be punished by men, yet they could not escape Divine condemnation. The Lord would come to execute vengeance himself, and they could not escape. It is probable (see Lightfoot in loco) that the Jews were accustomed to use such a form in their greater excommunication; and that they meant by it, that the person who was thus devoted to destruction, and excommunicated, must be destroyed; for the Lord would come to take vengeance on all his enemies. "It certainly was not now, for the first time, used as a new kind of cursing by the apostle; but was the application of a current mode of speech to the purpose he had in contemplation. Perhaps, therefore, by inspecting the manners of the East, we may illustrate the import of this singular passage. The nearest approach to it that I have been able to discover, is in the following extract from Mr. Bruce; and though, perhaps, this does not come up to the full power of the apostle's meaning, yet, probably, it gives the idea which was commonly attached to the phrase among the public. Mr. Bruce had been forced by a pretended saint, in Egypt, to take him on board his vessel, as if to carry him to a certain place—whereas, Mr. Bruce meant no such thing; but, having set him on shore at some little distance from whence he came, 'we slacked our vessel down the stream a few yards, filling our sails, and stretching away. On seeing this, our saint fell into a desperate passion, cursing, blaspheming, and stamping with his feet; at every word crying, "Shar Ulah!" i.e., May God send, and do justice!' This appears to be the strongest execration this passionate Arab could use; i.e., 'To punish you adequately is out of my power: I remit you to the vengeance of God.' Is not this the import of anathema maranatha?" — Taylor, in Calmet. This solemn declaration, or denunciation, the apostle wrote with his own hand, as the summary of all that he had said, in order that it might be attentively regarded. There is not a more solemn declaration in the Bible; there is not a more fearful denunciation; there is no one that will be more certainly executed. No matter what we may have—be it wealth, or beauty, or rigour, or accomplishment, or adorning, or the praise and flattery of the world; no matter if we are elevated high in office and in rank; no matter if we are honoured by the present age, or gain a reputation to be transmitted to future times; yet, if we have not love to the Saviour, we cannot be saved. We must be devoted to the curse; and the Lord Jesus will soon return to execute the tremendous sentence on a guilty world. How important, then, to ask whether we have that love? Whether we are attached to the Lord Jesus in such a manner as to secure his approbation? Whether we so love him as to be prepared to hail his coming with joy, and to be received into his everlasting kingdom. In the close of the Notes on this epistle, I may ask any one who shall read these pages, whether he has this love? And I may press it upon the attention of each one, though I may never see his face in the flesh, as the great inquiry which is to determine his everlasting destiny. The solemn declaration stands here, that if he does not love the Lord Jesus, he will be, and he ought to be, devoted to destruction. The Lord Jesus will soon return to make investigation, and to judge the world, There will be no escape; and no tongue can express the awful horrors of an ETERNAL CURSE, PRONOUNCED BY THE LIPS OF THE SON OF GOD!
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