Maran-atha is a transliteration of the Greek maran atha, which in turn is a transliteration of the Aramaic words maran ’athah. Maranatha appears once in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 16:22). It also appears in Didache 10:14, which is part of the Apostolic Fathers’ collection. The Aramaic phrase may be translated “our Lord comes,” or “our Lord, come.”
The letter to the Corinthians was written in Greek, as were all the other epistles, but Paul was a bilinguist and acquainted with Aramaic, the dialect of the people in Israel. As Paul ended his strong call to the Corinthians to forsake their divisions, false doctrines and dedicate themselves to God, he ended his epistle with the powerful assertion of the Lord’s coming.
The New Jerusalem Bible (1985) translates 1 Corinthians 16:22 in this way, “If there is anyone who does not love the Lord, a curse on such a one. Maran atha.” That is, the one who does not love the Lord is accursed because our Lord has ascended and come unto his throne (e.g., Daniel 7:13).
The KJV translates the verse: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” Here, Maranatha is attached to the preceding word “anathema,” but there is no necessary connection.
The NRSV translates the phrase Maranatha as: “Our Lord, come!” but notes that it could also be translated as: “Our Lord has come.”
The NIV translates the phrase Maranatha: “Come, O Lord.”
The Message Bible translates the phrase Maranantha: “Make room for the Master!”
The Hope of the Second Coming of Christ
Early Christians used the expression “maran-atha” as a greeting (Didache 10:6). This phrase became the usual greeting replacing the Jewish greeting shalom “peace.” The coming of Jesus should be indeed the theme of every believer’s life. For Jesus assured His followers when He was with them, “I will come again” (John 14:3).
And after His ascension to heaven, the angels of God affirmed to the disciples the same truth saying, “this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). What a glorious hope!
Jesus has gone to His Father’s house. He is waiting with great anticipation for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When His character shall be perfectly formed in His church, then He will come. It is our privilege to hasten the day of His great home-coming (2 Peter 3:12).
In His service,
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