Summary: The "holy kiss" was a common way to show love and acceptance in the early church. What was that "kiss" intended to accomplish for God and how can we (who often don’t do that) accomplish the same goals?
OPEN: For the next 4 weeks, we’re going to be looking at what the Bible says about kissing (pause).
You know, the Bible is just FULL of kissing. There are stories where sons kiss their fathers. Friends kissing friends/ brothers kissing brothers. People kissing false idols. Kissing between a woman and her fiancé. Men kissing men, women kissing women.
There’s just a whole lot of kissing going on in that Bible.
Some kisses were affectionate.
Some were romantic.
Some were just ways of showing acceptance.
But, in our society, kissing someone that’s not your momma or your wife could get you trouble. In fact, there are some places that even THAT is illegal.
For example in Idaho, there’s a city called Bench, Idaho, where you CAN kiss your intended… but if you do it on Sunday you are required to "Pause for breath" between each kiss. Seriously, it’s on the books.
In Logan County, Colorado, it’s illegal to kiss a sleeping woman (no matter who she is).
And I’ve read that - I personally - need to be careful if I go to Indianapolis because it’s apparently against the law there to kiss someone if you have a mustache.
So, kissing people today could get you in trouble.
But back in the days of Scripture nobody took offense if you kissed them. In fact – kissing was a way to show them you liked people. Kissing was a way of showing acceptance and affection even between friends. Kind of like shaking hands or hugging each other would be in our culture.
Now frankly, affection is what the early New Testament church was all about. Notice what Paul did when ending this letter to the Romans:
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila....”
Greet also the church that meets at their house.
Greet my dear friend Epenetus...
Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. ...
Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord.
Greet Urbanus, our fellow-worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.
Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ.
Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.
Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord.
Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord.
Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them.
Greet, greet, greet, greet, greet...
These are people who matter to him and Paul is devoting a fair portion of his letter naming them and asking that they be told he wanted them to know he remembered them.
Greet them for me.
Then he ends with: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
In fact, Paul ends several of his letters this way
In I Thessalonians 5:26 “Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.”
I Corinthians 16:20 “All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
2 Corinthians 13:12 “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”
Even Peter writes:
“Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” I Peter 5:14
(Pause and grin for a few moments at the audience)
So, what do you think?
Should we start kissing one another?
(Wait for the inevitable “No” to be said)
No... I don’t think so either.
Back then, that was the way they showed affection for other Christians back then. Nowadays... it would just get people all upset. But my point is this: the early church spent a lot of time being affectionate to each other. Because that was what Jesus said the church should be known for. Jesus said: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” John 13:35
And this theme is repeated several times throughout the New Testament:
Jesus said: "This I command you, that you love one another." John 15:17
Paul wrote: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8
And again: “... through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13
And again: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
I could go on and on and on with Scripture that tells us to love each other. And in the days of the New Testament, the Holy Kiss was one way of expressing that love. Someone once said “Kissing is a means of getting 2 people so close together that they can’t see anything wrong with each other.”
That was one of the goals of the New Testament Church – to get people so close together emotionally that they would get to the point where they didn’t see each others’ faults.