Question:

Does the church curse an erring member in the cause of withdrawal of fellowship, according to I Corinthians 16:22?


Answer:

"If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!" (I Corinthians 16:22).

The Greek anathema, translated here as "accursed," is defined by the Vines Dictionary as:

"Curse, Cursing (Noun and Verb), Cursed, Accursed: transliterated from the Greek, is frequently used in the Sept., where it translates the Heb. cherem, "a thing devoted to God," whether
(a) for His service, as the sacrifices, Lev 27:28 (cp. anathema, a votive offering, gift), or
(b) for its destruction, as an idol, Deu 7:26, or a city, Jos 6:17.
Later it acquired the more general meaning of "the disfavor of Jehovah," e.g., Zec 14:11. This is the meaning in the NT. It is used of
(a) the sentence pronounced, Act 23:14 (lit., "cursed themselves with a curse;" see anathematizo below);
(b) of the object on which the "curse" is laid, "accursed;" in the following, the RV keeps to the word "anathema," Rom 9:3; 1Cr 12:3; 16:22; Gal 1:8, 9, all of which the AV renders by "accursed" except 1Cr 16:22, where it has "Anathema." In Gal 1:8-9, the Apostle declares in the strongest manner that the Gospel he preached was the one and only way of salvation, and that to preach another was to nullify the Death of Christ."

The Greek word used here means God's disfavor is upon you or being devoted to or given up to God's wrath because of your sin as in Romans 1:18-19; 2:5-11. To be "accursed," when used in a way pertaining to your relationship with God, as in (I Corinthians 16:22), simply means to have God's wrath or disfavor against you.
 
The local church or individual does not decide one's standing with the Lord (III John 1:9-10). Because of false teachers such as Diotrephes in the Bible, one can be put out of the local church and yet still not be accursed from God. That is why we do not use our personal judgement but God's righteous judgement when we withdraw from someone. "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment" (John 7:24). The only person who can make one accursed from God is God Himself. "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die" (Ezekiel 18:4). Even Moses did not have the right to choose to be accursed from God or not. "Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, "Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin--and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!" The LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book" (Exodus 32:31-33). It will always be God's choice, we cannot make other people accursed.

We are told to withdraw from an erring Christian if they will not repent (I Corinthians 5:11). This action will help with turn him back to the Lord and purify the church from sin. The reason for this is because God has already rendered His judgment on the situation (I Corinthians 5:3-8). We are simply reinforcing it in the local church when we do as we are commanded. But we must remember he is still considered a brother, even though he has lost his salvation (II Thessalonians 3:14-15). We should treat him with respect and love when confrontation happens so that there may be a chance to turn him back to God. 

By Alan Feaster

I'm most grateful, sir.