What Does “Maranatha” mean, and why do Christians say it?

For the past twenty years I have been attending a Calvary Chapel (CC) to worship the Lord, learn, and grow as a Christian. It’s been a great place for me and my wife. Through the years attending CC conferences, reading books, listening to Maranatha Music from the Jesus Movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s and talking with other CC’ers, the word maranatha came up frequently.

Maranatha is an Aramaic word that means, “the Lord is coming” or “please come, Lord.” Throughout history, God’s people faced much persecution. Even though God saved Egypt using a boy sold into slavery, the Israelites became slaves to Egypt and were in bondage for 430 years. The early church was started during occupation of the Roman Empire, who forced everyone to declare Ceasar was god, challenged their money system and taxed the Israelites severely to fund the occupation, build roads, and so on. Even in modern times, it was the Jews who received the most severe punishments from the Nazi Party, Germany, and Adolph Hitler; killing an estimated 6 million Jews in the Final Solution.

Today, Christians all over the world are being persecuted for their faith; especially those who live in the 10/40 window (countries located between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator) who seem to have the highest percentage of Christian persecution. Countries and nations within this window are predominately or Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, animist, Jewish, or Atheistic faiths and oppose Jesus Christ and His gospel. Christian organizations like Voice of the Martyrs, Joshua Project, and many more.

In the United States, more Christians are being persecuted in a variety of ways: slander, losing a job over sharing their faith, dragged into court for refusing to succumb to LBGTQ+ beliefs, and so much more. Check out an excellent article in the Christian Post written by William Wolfe on this topic. Even in America, people have lost their lives for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As we move closer to the return of Jesus Christ, whenever that will be, the world in which we live in will get worse and worse. Paul wrote about this in 2 Timothy:

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”

– 2 Timothy 3:1-5 NKJV

John Calvin goes on to say in his commentary of these verses:

“The characteristics Paul will describe speak not of bad times, but of bad people. “We should note what the hardness or danger of this time is in Paul’s view to be, not war, not famine or diseases, nor any of the other calamities or ills that befall the body, but the wicked and depraved ways of men.” 

Calvin, John “Timothy: Calvin’s Commentaries” Volume 21 (Galatians-Philemon) (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979)

But that’s the point isn’t it: depraved men controlled by their allegiance to their father, the Devil, to come against the Church of Christ. 2 Timothy 3:12 says, ‘All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution’ in some form. Imagine, just the desire to live a godly life in Christ will bring even the smallest contempt on a Christian’s life. The world put to death the Son of God; and since Jesus is not here in the flesh, they look to crucify us as well in one form or another.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. “He who hates Me hates My Father also. “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. “But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

John 15:18-25 NKJV

As we move forward, even with all the things we Christians face: the world dwelling in material things, increased crime, violence, and depravity coming against our kids in school; we must look up and think about heavenly things that our salvation draws near (Isaiah 51:5). If you are worried, “Maranatha!” If you are tired, “Maranatha!” If you are discouraged and want to give up, “Maranatha!” If you are persecuted for righteousness sake, “MARANATHA!”

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