Let's consider the sole Bible verse containing Maranatha, in three versions:
* NIV 1 Corinthians 16:22 - If anyone does not love the Lord -- a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!
* NAS 1 Corinthians 16:22 - If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed. Maranatha.
* NKJ 1 Corinthians 16:22 - If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come!
One can readily see that the Aramaic maranatha has been rendered "Come, O Lord!" in English by the NIV translators (and translators of several other Bible versions). What is happening here?
Some versions leave the original phrase untranslated -- or transliterated; others translate it. Like amen, maranatha is a Semitic word that has found its way into other languages. Or is it a single "word"? Actually, it's a phrase. Maran is the Aramaic for Lord. Marana means "(our) Lord," and tha means "come." So, Marana / tha is one way to break the phrase. Others break the words thus: Maran / atha. At any rate, the phrase Marana atha = "Come, Lord," or possibly the Lord has come/is near."
Maranatha and the theology behind it have provided assurance and comfort for Christians of all ages throughout the ages. As Barclay put it, this durable phrase survived from the Aramaic -- the likely first language of Jesus and most of his apostles -- because it had become "a watchword and a password."