A holy kiss – What is it?

In biblical times, it was common for people to greet each other, or to say goodbye, with a non-sexual kiss. Many people throughout the world still show non-sexual physical affection to those they are fond of, and to family members, by kisses on one or both cheeks in greetings. Other cultures prefer a handshake.

The New Testament refers to a holy kiss in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In each, the idea is to display a kindred spirit, purity, and love for one another, not a physical attraction or public display of affection.

The kiss is "holy" in that is more than just a sign of greeting. It is physically pure and morally blameless. A holy kiss is one that is not disingenuous or deceitful, contrary to Judas' kiss to betray Jesus. Rather, a holy kiss between Christians is to express brotherly love and unity. Often, a new Christian would be ostracized from family and friends. A holy kiss would communicate a familial closeness. Further, when Jewish and Gentile Christians would greet each other with a holy kiss, the action communicated an acceptance and close fellowship.

Though Paul entreated Christians to greet each other with a holy kiss, it is unclear whether the practice is expected or instructed for modern Christians. Some churches do practice such a greeting with strict rules and instructions about communicating a pure, righteous, and sincere Christian affection with such a greeting. No matter the form of our greetings, they should be founded in true, agape love for our brothers and sisters in Christ and be characterized by purity and sincerity.


Related Truth:

What is Christian fellowship and why is fellowship so important?

What does the Bible say about edification? Why is it so important for Christians?

What was God's purpose in establishing the church?

Why is loving others often so hard to do?

In the Bible, what is a 'love feast'?


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