Paul ends this letter with what appears to be a few harsh words. Let’s look at how Old John Gill interprets them…
1 Corinthians 16:22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
let him be anathema. The word anathema, answers to the Hebrew חרם, 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 Lev 27:28, and in the New Testament, Luk 21:5, and which, if alienated to any other purposes, entailed a curse on persons; hence it is often translated “accursed”, as Rom 9:3 1Co 12:3, 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,
maranatha; 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 מחרמתא, “maharamatha”; others think that it is the same with מחרונאתא, “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 נדוי, “Niddui”, which was a separation from company and conversation, to which reference may be had in Luk 6:22; the second sort was called חרם Cherem, to which “anathema” answers, and was a separation, attended with curses and imprecations; and a third sort was called שמתא, “Shammatha”, and is thought to answer to “maranatha”, giving the etymology of it, as if it was, שם אתא, “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” (g); they ask,
“what is “Shammatha?” says Rab, שם מיתה, “there is death”; and Samuel says, שממה יהיה, “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.
This is a verse you probably will not have your “modern” pastor preaching on in the near future….it’s just not seeker friendly.