English blog

Curse for whom?

07-12-2015 - Posted by Andre Piet

index_4 Paul closes the first Corinthian letter with the following words (chap. 16):

21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. 22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Whence Paul in verse 22 so violently concludes with a curse? Anathema maranata! The first word is Greek, the second comes from the Hebrew (mara = curse, ata = you are; cp Mal.3: 9.). Paul speaks of this double curse on those who have no affinity (Gr. phileo) with the Lord. What kind of person is that? Not here but in the Galatians letter we get an answer. Because in that letter, Paul just about starts with an anathema on those who deviate from the Gospel that he preached (Galatians 1: 8-9) and personally received from the Lord (Galatians 1: 11,12). The Galatians were called into the grace of Christ and now they let themselves be dissuaded to a different kind of gospel which is no gospel (Galatians 1: 6). Once they started with hearing and faith but ended up with works and law (Galatians 3: 2). They started in Spirit and ended in flesh (Galatians 3: 2). All very religious, though. Including the promotion of circumcision (5: 3) and maintaining of days, months, seasons and years (Galatians 4: 10) – but nevertheless: “flesh” or work of man. The curse of anathema Paul reserves for all those who in the name of Christ, compromise his mercy. Where a price tag will be attached to what according to Scripture is for free. Such competitiors were on the horizon in the ecclesia of Galatia but also of Corinth, as we know from the second Corinthian letter (chapter 3). What is Paul’s answer and how does he oppose it? He sums it up in the following closing sentences of his letter:

23 The GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My LOVE be with you all IN CHRIST JESUS.

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