Apostolic Anathemas

Bryan Vinson, Sr.
Longview, Texas

The apostles of Christ were told that what they bound on earth was bound in heaven; that is, that which they bound was so because it was bound in heaven. It would he a mistake to conceive heaven to be subordinate to the apostles rather than the reverse. Hence, the obvious import is that they, the apostles, bound on earth in consequence of it being bound in heaven. But all they could possibly know about what heaven bound was as the Holy Spirit revealed it to them. They always spoke and enjoined on men in the name or by the authority of Christ. Christ is the source of authority, and the apostles were His ambassadors, exclusively so. So, then, any pronouncement they make invoking the name of the Lord had back of it, as enforced, the authority of Christ. No men on earth today have such prerogatives as did the apostles, and they possessed and exercised such by virtue of being so empowered by Him who has all authority in heaven and on earth.

Any anathema voiced by all apostle merits grave and responsive consideration by all who acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus, and to regard disdainfully what is said is to reject Christ. It is, however, to be noted that what the apostles taught was the will of the Lord, and thus Paul could consistently pronounce an anathema against any who preached any other gospel than that which he preached. Gal. 1:8-9. He here renders not only as ill-founded but as heretical the teaching of any thing other than as that which was preached by himself and his fellow-laborers in the Lord. Even angels, assuming they should appear before us, are strictly enjoined against preaching anything else. Men should be exceedingly careful and cautious in teaching God's Word. James tells us to be "not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation" (3:1).

Not only do the apostles pronounce a curse against those who teach or preach any other gospel than that which they preached, but also against those who do not keep His commandments. Paul wrote: "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha." I Cor. 16:22. Anathema means to be accursed, and maranatha suggests the Lord comes, or when He comes; hence the meaning is that those who love not the Lord are cursed and shall be so sentenced finally and irrevocably when He comes. This is, then, an apostolic warning, and one we might well heed now while we may profit from it.

But to love the Lord is to keep His commandments. John 14:15-24.

Therefore to not keep His commandments is equal, as considered by Jesus, to not loving Him. John further teaches in his letter to the children of God that we know that we know Him if we keep His commandments, and that he who says he knows Him and doesn't keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. I John 2:3-4. Also, He says that whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him because we keep His commandments and do those things well pleasing in His sight. I John 3:22. To keep the commandments of Christ is to do those things well pleasing to Him. To do that which we conceive to be well pleasing in His sight when such is not the commandment of the Lord is to deceive ourselves. No greater tragedy ever befalls a human than to misconceive the will of man to be the will of God, and thus doing the former to think he is doing the latter.

We view with the most awesome fear the ominous and irretrievable ruin which shall befall those who do not do the will of Christ and thus fall victim to the apostolic anathema above cited, whereas we view with regret but without fear the anathemas of men for not keeping their commandments and being governed by their will. Jesus taught that we should not fear those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. (Matt. 10:28). This forbids fearing men, and enjoins a fear of the Lord.

Truth Magazine IV:2, p. 1
November 1959