The way my Bible is set up, I had to turn the page to read the last 3 sentences of Paul’s letter. Prior to turning the page, as I am reading, I am almost being lulled to sleep with sweet words of, “Do everything in love..”, “I was glad,…”, “…they refreshed my spirit..” (16:14-18)
Calm words in a peaceful goodbye….😌 And then I turn the page….“If anyone does not love the Lord- a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!” (16:22) 😳 Boy did my eyebrows shoot up! I’m thinking, “Whaaat?” What happened to all the warm and comforting, good-bye words?! What is Paul saying?????
Then I thought about Paul.
This actually fits right in line with all his preaching! Remember, he is the guy who says, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22) Save them from what? From perishing…..
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1:18)
Remember back in Acts when Paul said to the Jews who opposed him, “Your blood be on your own head! I am clear of my responsibility.” (Acts 18:6) Paul takes eternal life very seriously! It is real, and he knows it! We will all go one direction or the other at the final judgement (Matt.25:32).
When we read what he says to the Corinthians, “a curse be on him.” it isn’t like he is calling down a curse from heaven to spite these heathens. On the contrary, he loves people, he will be and do anything to save some, especially the Jewish nonbeliever! Remember he said, “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.”
So, instead, his statement about the curse is more like he is summing up what John the Baptist said using a few more words, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)
The curse is already on all men who don’t love Jesus. Paul didn’t call down the curse. He is reminding this group of people he is writing to…..”Do, you truly love the Lord? ‘Cause if you don’t, the wrath of God is still on you.”