The Meaning of Maranatha: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of maranatha? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word maranatha, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word maranatha mean?

According to Bible Info and Dictionary, the word maranatha is an Aramaic word that appears in the verse 1 Corinthians 16:22 in the Bible only once. Hoevery, many versions of the Bible including the NIV (New International Version), NRSV/RSV (Revised Standard Version) and KNJV (New King James Version) translate this word into English. The King James Version and the New American Standard Bible (KJV and NASB) do not translate this word. The quote from the Bible using maranatha is, “If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed. Maranatha!” This is in Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth. Maranatha is an interjection that means “O Lord” or “The Lord is coming.” This phrase is also seen in the Didache which is part of the Apostolic Fathers’ collection. These were thought to be written in his own hand.

This may be confusing because this is an Aramaic word (מרנא תא), which is a Semitic language related to Hebrew and was the common language of the Jews in the first century A.D. A lexical difficulty lies in determining just which two Aramaic words comprise the single Greek expression. The two-word Aramaic formula is thought to be the two words מרן אתא, a possessive meaning “Our Lord” and a perfect/preterite verb or imperative verb meaning “has come.” This was the native language that Jesus and his disciples spoke, but the Corinthians spoke Greek and Paul wrote his letter in Greek. It is thought that he uses this Aramaic word because it was a secret password or watchword that early Christians even when they spoke only Greek. Since hristians were often persecuted both by Jews and Romans, this sort of Aramaic password was a kind of code they could use to identify other Christians while avoiding persecution from Greeks and Romans. 

Some Bibles split up the word maranatha differently. If it is divided as marana-tha, it means, “Our Lord, come!” This is a prayer or plea for Jesus to fulfill His promise and come again to take His faithful people to their home in heaven. This usage of maranatha expresses the Christians’ heartfelt longing to see the Lord come for them in the clouds of heaven to put an end to sin forever. This has an equivalent prayer in Greek: erchou kyrie Iēsou. This is a reference to the future coming of Christ in conjunction with the observance of communion.

The word maranatha can also be divided as maran-atha, meaning: “Our Lord has come!” This is thought to affirm the early Christian Church as a formal creed and  affirm the historical fact that the Lord Jesus Christ had come to earth as the Savior of humanity. Since Paul is emphasizing the sacrifice Jesus made on earth in the letter to the Christians at Philippi, this could make sense. While there is no linguistic evidence either way, it can be understood both ways, and both are equally true and equally important. It expresses adoration and devotion, qualities absent in false brethren.

Paul also brings his readers’ thoughts back to the true test of their Christianity with this word. He warns that people who do not love the Lord Jesus with this kind of life-changing love are accursed by saying “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” He uses the Greek word anathema, meaning condemned or damned in contrast to maranatha. In some English versions of the Bible, neither of these words are translated. It is almost as though Paul pronounces a curse, “anathema maranatha” on people who do not love Jesus. Other passages in the Bible remind us that the Lord is coming, like Luke 21:28; Revelation 22:12.

Overall, the word maranatha is an Aramaic phrase and credal expression used in the Bible by Paul at the conclusion of his first epistle. Its translation is roughly “the Lord cometh.” This was used as a sort of watchword for first-century Christians, since there is no necessary connection to the Greek language or Greek letters. It has been used in anathematizing people for great crimes, as if to say, “May the Lord come quickly to take vengeance of thy crimes.”

What are other Biblical sayings?

There are many common Biblical sayings. Take a look at this list from City NZ and see how many you know!

  •  To cast pearls before swine
  •  Put your house in order
  •  Weighed in the balance
  •  Good Samaritan
  •  Feet of clay
  •  Broken heart
  •  Letter of the law
  •  Many are called, but few are chosen
  •  Kiss of death
  •  Fight the good fight
  •  Twinkling of an eye
  •  Scapegoat
  •  Fall by the wayside
  •  Fly in the ointment
  •  A little birdie told me
  •  What God has joined together, let no one separate
  •  Reap what you sow
  •  Eat, drink, and be merry
  •  Fall from grace
  •  Put words in one’s mouth
  •  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
  •  See eye to eye
  •  Let there be light
  •  The root of the matter
  •  A man after my own heart
  •  How the mighty have fallen
  •  Armageddon
  •  Cross to bear
  •  Forbidden fruit
  •  Jezebel
  •  No rest for the wicked
  •  A house divided against itself cannot stand
  •  A law unto themselves
  •  Philistine
  •  Like a lamb led to the slaughter
  •  The truth will set you free
  •  Apple of my eye
  •  By the sweat of your brow
  •  Of biblical proportions
  •  Writing is on the wall
  •  Nothing but skin and bones
  •  Sign of the times
  •  Head on a platter
  •  Golden calf
  •  Labour of love
  •  Baptism of fire
  •  For everything there is a season
  •  Wash your hands of the matter
  •  The blind leading the blind
  •  Throw the first stone
  •  Wolves in sheep’s clothing
  •  Drop in a bucket
  •  Four corners of the earth
  •  Man does not live by bread alone
  •  Move mountains
  •  The eleventh hour
  •  Rise and shine
  •  O ye, of little faith
  •  Salt of the earth
  •  Land of milk and honey
  •  The land of Nod
  •  Better to give than receive
  •  There’s nothing new under the sun
  •  Millstone around your neck
  •  Pride comes before a fall
  •  Wits’ end
  •  He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword
  •  Give up the ghost
  •  As old as Methuselah
  •  Am I my brother’s keeper?
  •  Ends of the earth
  •  An eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth
  •  Can a leopard change his spots?
  •  By the skin of your teeth
  •  Be a man
  •  Spare the rod, spoil the child
  •  Behemoth
  •  Bite the dust
  •  The love of money is the root of all evil
  •  Flesh and blood
  •  Sour grapes
  •  Go the extra mile
  •  Fire and brimstone
  •  Straight and narrow
  •  The powers that be


  1. What does Maranatha mean? | Bible Info 
  2. Maranatha Definition & Meaning | Dictionary 
  3. 85 Bible Sayings | The Ultimate List | City Life