A Holy Kiss

Greet one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 16:16); “Greet one another with a kiss of love” (1 Peter 5:14).

As referenced above, both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter instructed Christians to greet one another with a kiss. The apostle Paul also gave this inspired counsel to Christians in Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12) and Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 5:26). Because of the cultural differences between Paul and his day and ours today, some have missed the point of this divine counsel.

Like today’s handshake in the western world, a “kiss” (usually a peck on one or both cheeks of its recipient) has been the longstanding custom of greeting others in some cultures. When Laban, for example, came to greet Jacob—an adult relative he had never met before—he greeted him with an embrace and a kiss (Genesis 31:13). In Jesus’ day, it was customary for a host to greet his guests with a kiss (Luke 7:45). The brilliance of Judas’ kiss of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:49) was that none of the apostles suspected its treacherous purpose. It did not appear to be unusual in any way.

In light of this, the emphatic word in Paul’s directive is not the word “kiss” but the word “holy”. Christians are commanded to greet one another. Using the customary way of greeting each other in the culture in which they find themselves is not forbidden. But, unlike the kiss of an immoral woman seeking to arouse unholy thoughts and desires in another (Proverbs 7:10-13), Christians are to greet one another in a way which is holy and pure, not provocative and inappropriate.

For a Christian, holiness is to permeate every facet of your life, even the way in which you greet others.

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Author: jchowning

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