First Corinthians 16:22-24 and Revelation 22:20-21

Brothers and Sisters,

I would venture a guess that most of us would be hard pressed to come up with the definition or even the general meaning of the word “maranatha.”  It’s one of those words that, like “alleluia,” “Hosanna,” or “amen,” are just sort of a churchy sounding terms that we get used to hearing and possibly even using without ever being really able to articulate the definition specifically.

Well, just like the words “alleluia,” “Hosanna,” and “amen” the origin of “maranatha” is from Hebrew and Aramaic – they are transliterations.  A transliteration is different and distinct from a translation.  In a translation, we give a word in a different language that means the same thing.  Here are some apt translations:

  • Deus (Latin), Dieu (French), Dios (Spanish), Gott (German), and God
  • Ecclesia (Latin), Église (French), Iglesia (Spanish), Kirche (German), and Church

It’s fun to notice that, in these specific examples, the Latin, French, and Spanish are closely related while the English and German are connected differently.  These are examples of translations – different words from separate languages that refer to the same thing.

A transliteration is taking a word from a language and placing it directly into another language.  This is the case for alleluia, Hosanna, amen, and maranatha – all from Hebrew and Aramaic that have been brought directly into English (and other languages) with, essentially, their original pronunciation.

Maranatha, depending on how it is used, means either the “Lord is coming” or the “Lord has come.”  Here are two really fun examples from the Bible:

  • If anyone does not love the Lord, then let that person be accursed!  Maranatha.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you; my love to all of you in Christ Jesus (First Corinthians 16:22-24)
  • The One Who gives testimony says ‘yes, I am coming soon.’  Amen, maranatha.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all (Revelation 22:20-21)

In the first quote (from 1 Cor 16) maranatha means that the “Lord has come;” in the second quote (from Rev 22) maranatha means the “Lord will come.”  This is the great battle cry for Advent:  the Lord has come, and the Lord will come.  Advent is an all year event in some form for the Christian.  We always need to remind ourselves that Christ has indeed already come, and that fact must influence every bit of our lives; we must also recall that Christ will come again, and that will give our lives direction, purpose, and meaning.

Maranatha!  Lord Jesus, come to us.

God be near,

Father Jeremy