Paul signs off this letter to the Church at Corinth with a note on brotherly love.
1 Corinthians 16:19-24
19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 The greeting is in my own hand—Paul. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha. 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Yes, I said this was a note on love, even though there is that little verse 22 in there that seems to throw it all off. We see here that Paul is talking about brotherly love. He discusses the love sent from and to others in the fellowship of Christ. In verse 22 where we see Paul talking about loving the Lord, here he also uses the word phileo which is from where we derive this brotherly/ familial love. Why does Paul say that anyone who does not love the Lord in this way is to be accursed?
It is because anyone who does not love the Lord is accursed. He isn’t damning people who don’t love the Lord, he is saying that those who do not are damned and not loving the Lord is a part of crawling out of that damnation. Loving the Lord back because of His love for us is how we are transformed. His love for us gives us the opportunity to be transformed into what He designed us to be but it is our obedience and love for Him in return that is how the process continues. In John 6 we read, “33 For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.” 34 Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread. 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.” If we don’t eat the bread, we are accursed.
The word marantha is an Aramaic word used almost as an “amen” that pronounces the coming of the Lord. It isn’t so much a prophecy as it is a statement of faith that recognizes the will of God. It is particularly placed here to proclaim that what Paul said about loving the Lord and being accursed is not from what Paul says, rather it is what God has said Himself. As I read this passage again, it seems as though Paul is proclaiming to love others, but even if we do that and don’t love the Lord our God, then it doesn’t matter.
The scriptures repeatedly teach us that our relationship with God is more important than any other relationship: spouse, friends, family, pets…if God isn’t first, then we are missing something. The bible teaches us how we can love God. Parents receive their love from their children in the form of obedience. As children are obedient, they feel more loved from their kids, don’t they? Of course, the parents must first teach their kids to be obedient and the importance of it, however as the child learns, they begin to understand not only the difference between right and wrong, but the consequences of disobedience. This is what we find in the bible as children of God. He teaches us how to be obedient, what happens if we aren’t, and even gives us the strength to be obedient through the Holy Spirit.
How much do you love God through your actions and obedience?