Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 16

The holy kiss

1 Corinthians 16:20

1 Corinthians 16:20 is one of four verses where Paul mentions the Ďholy kissí. The other verses are Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:26.

The holy kiss was a greeting that was very familiar to the first Christians. 1 Peter 5:14 mentions its purpose. It was an expression of love between Christians.

We have a brief description of it in Acts 20:37. There, the church leaders of Ephesus were saying goodbye to Paul for the last time. Each man in turn hugged Paul and kissed him.

In many countries today, such a greeting would seem a strange way to behave. In fact, it could offend people. It is only natural for people to have ideas about what is right and proper behaviour (11:14-15). Paul taught Christians not to follow customs that may offend people.

However, in many countries near the Mediterranean Sea, such a kiss does not offend. Men frequently greet their male friends and relatives with a kiss on the cheek. Similarly, women greet female friends and relatives in this manner.

Jesus mentioned such a kiss, between father and son, in Luke 15:20. In fact, it seems that Jesus and his disciples (special students) greeted each other in this manner. Certainly, Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss in Mark 14:45.

Of course, Judasís kiss was not sincere. Really Judas was kissing Jesus as a sign, to hand Jesus over to his enemies (Mark 14:44). That incident teaches an important lesson, both about kisses and about other acts to express love. Love must first be an attitude in a personís heart; a person shows love by his actions to help someone else. Even a kiss does not really express love if there is no love in the personís heart.

Next part: Paulís personal greeting (1 Corinthians 16:21)

 

Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.

 

© 2014, Keith Simons.