Anathema

anything laid up or suspended; hence anything laid up in a
temple or set apart as sacred. In this sense the form of the
word is "anath(ee)ma", once in plural used in the Greek New
Testament, in Luke 21:5, where it is rendered "gifts." In the
LXX. the form "anathema" is generally used as the rendering of
the Hebrew word "herem", derived from a verb which means (1) to
consecrate or devote; and (2) to exterminate. Any object so
devoted to the Lord could not be redeemed (Num. 18:14; Lev.
27:28, 29); and hence the idea of exterminating connected with
the word. The Hebrew verb (haram) is frequently used of the
extermination of idolatrous nations. It had a wide range of
application. The "anathema" or "herem" was a person or thing
irrevocably devoted to God (Lev. 27:21, 28); and "none devoted
shall be ransomed. He shall surely be put to death" (27:29). The
word therefore carried the idea of devoted to destruction (Num.
21:2, 3; Josh. 6:17); and hence generally it meant a thing
accursed. In Deut. 7:26 an idol is called a "herem" =
"anathema", a thing accursed.

In the New Testament this word always implies execration. In
some cases an individual denounces an anathema on himself unless
certain conditions are fulfilled (Acts 23:12, 14, 21). "To call
Jesus accursed" [anathema] (1 Cor. 12:3) is to pronounce him
execrated or accursed. If any one preached another gospel, the
apostle says, "let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:8, 9); i.e., let his
conduct in so doing be accounted accursed.

In Rom. 9:3, the expression "accursed" (anathema) from Christ,
i.e., excluded from fellowship or alliance with Christ, has
occasioned much difficulty. The apostle here does not speak of
his wish as a possible thing. It is simply a vehement expression
of feeling, showing how strong was his desire for the salvation
of his people.

The anathema in 1 Cor. 16:22 denotes simply that they who love
not the Lord are rightly objects of loathing and execration to
all holy beings; they are guilty of a crime that merits the
severest condemnation; they are exposed to the just sentence of
"everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord."