BIBLE CUSTOMS AND CURIOSITIES (PAUL’S “HOLY” KISS)

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In three other of his epistles, Paul instructed believers to greet one another in this way (1 Corinthians 16:20: 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26). Thus, we can assume that the holy kiss (“kiss of charity,” 1 Peter 5:14) was practiced widely among the early New Testament churches.

This is one of those biblical customs that we find surprising and puzzling because of the romantic and sexual overtones attached to kissing in our culture. The New Living Translation takes the easy way out and renders this verse, “Greet each other in Christian love,” But greeting others with a kiss had no erotic meaning in Bible times. We might compare it to a handshake in the modern world. It was simply the customary way to greet others (see note one Genesis 29:13).

It is interesting that Paul added the word holy to this standard kiss of greeting. Early believers could greet one another with a “holy” kiss because they were members of God’s family who had been cleansed and justified by the blood of Christ.

ROMANS 16:16- Salute [Greet, NIV] one another with an holy kiss. 

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