First Love (1 Cor 16:21-22)

The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. Maranatha.” (1 Corinthians 16:21–22, KJV)

One of the saddest things I have observed is a marriage where one person does not love the other. It is sad, because the joy that should be in the relationship is snuffed out because of this essential ingredient being missed. Love is essential in meaningful and joyful relationships.

Jesus, when asked about the greatest commandment, stated this, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37–38, KJV). To love God is our great commandment. If you ask many people outside the church, if they love God, I imagine that you would get a variety of answers. People might give you a blank stare and walk away. Others, might say yes, with a puzzled look on their face. Others may give a resounding yes. Yet, how many truly love the Lord our God?

Paul makes a tough statement here at the end of the letter to the Corinthians. He stated, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema.” The word “Anathema,” refers to a person or thing accursed (Thayer pg. 10). Paul stated that the person who does not love the Lord is to be accursed. Let us consider the severity of this statement.

If people truly understood the depth of their sin and how it affronted an infinitely holy God. If they understood the penalty of their sin, which is eternal punishment. If they understood the love of God in sending God the Son to this earth to die on a cross. If they understood the pain and emotional anguish of our Lord when He hung on the cross, taking upon himself the guilt, and sorrow of all our sin so that we might have abundant and eternal life. If they received the mercy of God by faith in Christ, which resulted in the forgiveness of sin and the free gift of eternal life. How could one who received such a blessing who understood the sacrifice of Jesus, not love Him? Every time we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we are reminded of His love for us.

Jesus made this statement, which foreshadowed His sacrifice on the cross for every believer.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, KJV)

John wrote the following.

Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16, KJV)

We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, KJV)

True believers will love the Lord. Those who do not, well Paul wrote, “let him be Anathema.” We must take two things from this. One is that every unbeliever faces a judgment. We ought to be burdened enough to sacrifice of ourselves to get the message of hope to them. Second for us who have received this hope, the guarantee of eternal life, we should sound the call at the sentence that Paul wrote, “Maranatha.” Maranatha is a transliteration of an Aramaic expression, translated as, “Our Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22b, ESV).

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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