What does kissing on cheek mean?

What is meant by ‘greet each other with a holy kiss’?

Instructions to greet other believers with a holy kiss appear in Rom 16:16, 1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12 and 1 Thess. 5:26. We don’t know much about what the holy kiss was like, other than the fact that it was a friendly greeting. From the context of the Bible, it does not seem to be romantic. And the Bible says nothing about holy kissing on the lips. Perhaps it was like the kiss on the cheek that French people use to greet each other today?

Regardless of the exact nature of the holy kiss, Paul does not mandate that we kiss each other each time we greet, as a command for churches of all time. It would appear that the Biblical principle is that believers should greet each other warmly. In the Greek culture of New Testament times, that greeting was apparently accompanied by a kiss. In America and Great Britain today, it is accompanied by a handshake. And other cultures signify greetings in other ways. Therefore we should not feel bound to kiss other believers, regardless of culture. In some places today, kissing would be inappropriate. In other places, a modest kiss on the cheek is normal. Therefore, Christians today should keep the Biblical principle behind the holy kiss (greeting other believers warmly), even if they do not actually kiss.

How does this Bible passage speak to you? Please share your thoughts below!

Also read Can you kiss before marriage?

Marten Visser

Marten Visser

Marten Visser, 1971, experienced a call from the Lord to be a missionary while in Kindergarten, and never had any other job ambition. He received M.Div., Th.M. in Missiology, and M.A. in cultural anthropology degrees from Utrecht University, as well as a Ph.D. degree in Theology from the same university. In 1994 he founded Gave, a mission organisation ministering among refugees in the Netherlands. In 2000 he became a church planting missionary in Thailand with OMF, together with his wife Esther. They planted a church in a lower class neighbourhood in Bangkok. In 2006 they moved to Isaan, the North-east of Thailand. Marten planted two more rural churches and a Burmese factory church, while also building up a team of missionary church planters. In 2015 he returned to the Netherlands where he founded GlobalRize. He continues to serve as GlobalRize’s director of evangelism. Marten is an ordained Reformed pastor, who preaches twice almost every Sunday in churches all over the Netherlands. He and his wife have two children.

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