The word anathema, improperly rendered "accursed" in Gal. 1:8, has no such meaning. It's real significance is: "Let him go," "Ignore (or disregard) him." It really means "to separate." The apostle uses it here as he applies it to himself (Rom. 9:3): "I could wish myself separated from Christ." This is the view of all good critics.
Hammond: "And if any attempt to do that, though it were I myself, or even an angel from heaven, I proclaim unto you mine opinion and apostolic sentence, that you are to disclaim and renounce all communion with him, to look on him as an excommunicated person, under the second degree of excommunication, that none is to have any commerce with in sacred matters. And that he may take more heed to what I say, I repeat it again: Whosoever teaches you any new doctrine, contrary to what I at first preached unto you, let him be cast out of the church by you."
Wakefield: "But, if even we, or an angel from heaven, should preach the gospel differently from what we did preach it unto you, let him be rejected. As we told you before, so now I tell you again, if any one preach a different gospel to you from what ye received from us, let him be rejected."—Trans. in loc.
Clarke: "Perhaps this is not designed as an imprecation, but as a simple direction; for the word here may be understood as implying that such a person should have no countenance in his bad work, but let him, as Theodoret expresses it,be separated from the communion of the church. This, however, would also imply that, unless the person repented, the divine judgments would soon follow."—Com. in loc.
Nothing like what is implied in the common use of the English word "anathema" is meant by the Christian use of the Greek word. The Catholic church has employed it to mean accursed, or damned, in the Evangelical meaning of those words, which is as foreign to the spirit of Christ and Christianity as it is to curse and damn in common profanity.
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