If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ
The Vulgate Latin, and the Syriac and Ethiopic versions, read "our Lord". The apostle here does not so much mean profane and unregenerate sinners, who are destitute of love to Christ, from ignorance of him; nor such who, from the same principle, might persecute him in his members, for such are to be even prayed for, and wished well unto; and oftentimes such are called by grace, and become true and sincere lovers of Christ; and the apostle himself was an instance of it: some think the Jews are intended, who were the mortal enemies of Christ; hated his name and person, his Gospel and interest, and maliciously persecuted the same; they called Jesus accursed, and therefore deserved an anathema to be pronounced on them; it was prophesied of them, that their name should be left for a curse; and it was threatened to them, in case of non-repentance, upon the coming of John the Baptist, in the spirit of Elijah, that the Lord would come and smite their land with a curse; which had its accomplishment in the destruction of Jerusalem; see ( Isaiah 65:15 ) ( Malachi 4:6 ) ; others think the Gnostics are intended, one of whose tenets was, that it was lawful not to confess Christ in a time of persecution, in order to save themselves; and such might be truly said not to love our Lord Jesus, and on whom such an anathema as after mentioned might rightly be denounced: though it should seem rather, that some persons in this church, or that infested it, are referred to as the false teachers, and those who sided with them, who made factions and divisions in the church of Christ; allowed themselves in the commission of fornication and incest, and such like impurities; had no regard to the peace of the consciences of weak brethren, but laid stumblingblocks in their way; behaved in a very irreverent manner at the Lord's table, and gave in to very pernicious errors and heresies, particularly denying the resurrection of the dead; and by their many bad principles and practices plainly showed that they did not in deed and in truth love our Lord Jesus: wherefore of every such an one the apostle says,
let him be anathema.
The word anathema, answers to the Hebrew (Mrx) , and is rendered by it here in the Syriac version; and signifies anything separated and devoted to holy uses; and so it is used by the Septuagint, in ( Leviticus 27:28 ) , and in the New Testament, ( Luke 21:5 ) , and which, if alienated to any other purposes, entailed a curse on persons; hence it is often translated "accursed", as ( Romans 9:3 ) ( 1 Corinthians 12:3 ) ( Galatians 1:8 Galatians 1:9 ) , and here it signifies, that such persons that love not the Lord Jesus, should be rejected by the saints, and separated from their communion; and so the Arabic version renders it, "let him be separated"; that is, from the church; let him be cast out of it, and cut off from it; as, so living and dying without love to Christ, he will be accursed by him at the last day, and will have that awful sentence denounced on him, "go ye cursed". The apostle adds another word, about which there is some difficulty,
some make this to be the same with "anathema"; the one being the Syriac, the other the Greek word, as "Abba, Father"; and think that "maranatha" is put for (atmrxm) , "maharamatha"; others think that it is the same with (atanwrxm) , "maharonatha", which signifies "from wrath to come"; and being joined with the other word, intends an anathematizing or devoting persons to wrath to come: others take it to be the last, and worse sort of excommunication among the Jews; and observe, that the first sort was called (ywdn) , "Niddui", which was a separation from company and conversation, to which reference may be had in ( Luke 6:22 ) ; the second sort was called (Mrx) Cherem, to which "anathema" answers, and was a separation, attended with curses and imprecations; and a third sort was called (atmv) , "Shammatha", and is thought to answer to "maranatha", giving the etymology of it, as if it was, (ata Mv) , "the name", i.e. "God cometh", as "maranatha" read as two words, signify "our Lord cometh": but this is not the etymology the Jews give of "Shammatha" F7; they ask,
``what is "Shammatha?" says Rab, (htym Mv) , "there is death"; and Samuel says, (hyhy hmmv) , "desolations shall be";''but of the other etymology there is no mention made among them; nor is ever the word "maranatha" used by them for excommunication; the sense of which certainly is, "our Lord cometh"; and the Ethiopic version, joining it with the former word, renders the whole thus, "let him be anathema in the coming of our Lord", which seems to be pretty much the sense of the apostle: it is best to consider this word, or rather these two words, "maran atha", "our Lord cometh", as added by the apostle, to put persons in mind of the coming of Christ; either at the destruction of Jerusalem, to take vengeance on the Jews, who did not love, but hated him, and maliciously persecuted him, and his; or of the second coming of Christ to judgment, when all the wicked of the earth shall be accursed by him, and all such that love him not will be bid to depart from him.
F7 T. Bab. Moed Katon, fol. 17. 1.