Paul’s last Greetings and Final Farewell to the Corinthian Believers
1 Corinthians 16:19-24 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. The greeting is in my own hand--Paul. If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. NKJV
Paul now concludes his first letter to these Corinthian believers by sending those greetings from the brothers and sisters who are present with him in Ephesus such as Priscilla and Aquila. Paul must have visited the other churches in Asia Minor and then settled himself down at Ephesus where this letter is constructed. Paul writes that all the churches of Asia salute them and this English word salute is translated by the Greek word aspazomai which literally means to wish well or to receive joyfully; to welcome or to embrace someone enfolding them or covering them in your arms. Paul wanted to always affirm the binding or creating of brotherly and sisterly ties between these believers who probably never met one another in person and never would in this sojourn here on the earth. It is normal for Christian brothers and sisters in Christ to have warm and loving affections for one another despite meeting for the first time or never physically meeting at all because of our common bond to Christ Jesus, there is automatically a common bond with one another seeing that we are a part of Christ Mystical Body. Paul sends them welcome and embracing from all the brethren and it was the custom in most of the culture in that part of the world for men to greet or welcome one another with a kiss on each cheek and likewise for the women to greet one another in the same manner.
We recall that this is how the betrayer Judas Iscariot greeted our Lord Jesus on the night he betrayed Him as recorded for us with these words by Dr. Luke, “While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’ (Luke 22:47-48). There was never anything sexual or immoral associated with these greetings, on the contrary, it is equivalent to the way those of us here in the Western part of the world greet one another with a hand shake. The English word Paul uses here is translated by the Greek word philema the same word our Lord Jesus used when He was confronted by Judas and it is from the root Greek word phileo. Phileo means to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling. Philema then means to kiss one to show friendship, care, and affection for someone as a sign of fraternal affection, Christians were accustomed to welcome or dismiss their companions in the faith in this manner.
Paul lets them know that this last part of his first letter the greeting was written by his own hand but he did not write with his own hand this entire letter, but the entire content was from him as he was moved along by God the Holy Spirit. Paul makes a very strong statement to these Corinthian believers and to us here in his salutation or greeting at the end as he writes, “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22), for this is the all-consuming or all-distinguishing mark of a truly regenerated born again believer in our Lord, Master, and Savior Jesus Christ and that is love for Him and love to Him. Paul signs his letter in this manner to remind these believers in Corinth as they were plagued with envy, strife, lawsuits, jealousy, divisions, sexual immorality, etc. that our Lord Jesus is coming back soon and their love for Him and to Him must be real. The word anathema Paul uses here is from the Aramaic language and means to be accursed or eternally damned. Also the word Maranatha Paul uses is also from the Aramaic language and means our Lord has come or the Lord is coming soon; it is an exclamation of the approaching Divine Judgment. The Aramaic language is a Semitic language originally of the ancient Arameans, but still spoken by other people in southwestern Asia and it was spoken often by our Lord Jesus Christ and His followers during His time on the earth. Paul bids them farewell and to be covered by the grace (Divine influence upon the heart or inner man) of our Lord Jesus Christ and sends his love/agape (God’s Love given to Him) to them until he sees them again.
“It stands here as a warning to the Corinthians and a rebuke of their criminal behaviour. It is an admonition to them not to be led away from the simplicity of the gospel, or those principles of it which were the great motives to purity of life, by pretenders to science, by the wisdom of the world, which would call their religion folly, and its most important doctrines absurd and ridiculous. Those men had a spite at Christ; and, if the Corinthians give ear to their seducing speeches, they were in danger of apostatizing from Him. Against this he gives them here a very solemn caution. ‘Do not give into such conduct, if you would escape the severest vengeance.’ Note, Professed Christians will, by contempt of Christ, and revolt from Him, bring upon themselves the most dreadful destruction. Some understand the words as they lie, in their plain and obvious meaning, for such as are without holy and sincere affection for the Lord Jesus Christ. Many who have His Name much in their mouths have no true love to Him in their hearts, will not have Him to rule over them (Luke 19:27), no, not though they have very towering hopes of being saved by Him. And none love Him in truth who do not love His laws and keep His commandments. Note, There are many Christians in name who do not love Christ Jesus the Lord in sincerity. But can anything be more criminal or provoking? What, not love the most glorious lover in the world! Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, who shed His blood for us, to testify His love to us, and that after heinous wrong and provocation! What had we a power of loving for, if we are unmoved with such love as this, and without affection to such a Saviour?” Matthew Henry
“Notice the flaming forth of Paul’s passionate love for Christ. He felt that any who failed to love Him must be accursed in disposition and soul; and would be accursed at His coming, like the barren tree standing in the midst of an orchard of fruit trees, crowned with blossom or heavy with fruit. Maran atha!-our Lord cometh. He will put right the wrongs of time, and crown His faithful servants with honor and glory. Hallelujah!” F. B. Meyer
“Paul closes out his first letter to these believers by reminding them of the urgency they must have in being persistent in loving our Lord Jesus Christ knowing that His Return will be sudden and without warning, whether He comes to them or us first or they or we go to Him in death, as Paul spoke of in the last chapter.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…