The Holy Kiss By Pastor William H. Heinrich
God is fully set apart and different from anything or anyone else. He is morally righteous in all His perfection. In Genesis 2:3 God sets apart the seventh day as holy. This means it was different from all other days. In Exodus 3:5 God tells Moses that the ground on which he stood was holy ground. This meant that it was set apart and different. God’s Commandments are holy, therefore different from the laws of man. They are derived from a holy God.
Whatever God calls holy is set apart and different from all that is common. To kiss is common, but the holy kiss is different and set apart. It is also pure and sincere. An insincere kiss, whether done on the lips or cheek, is hypocritical. To initiate the holy kiss would be misunderstood and likely rejected, but a warm handshake in love would be received in love.
The eastern custom of the holy kiss was men with men and women with women. It was lip to lip or cheek to cheek accompanied with a pat on the back. In the case of Paul when he departed from Ephesus, the elder wept, fell on his neck, and kissed him.
In Bible times the kiss was a sign of respect and submission to a superior (1 Samuel 10:1), a sign of love and affection (Genesis 27: 26-27; 1 Samuel 20:41), of idolatry, reverence, and adoration (Hosea 13:2), and the kiss of an enemy (Psalm 27:6; Song of Solomon 1:2; Luke 7:45 and Luke 22:43). In the New Testament the holy kiss is taught in Romans 16:16-20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; and 1 Peter 5:4. To kiss one’s family member is found throughout the Bible [Genesis 27: 26-27, 31:38; 1 Kings 19:20; Genesis 29:11, 31:55, 33:4, 45:15, 48:10, 50:1; Exodus 4:27, 18:17; Ruth 1:9, 14; 1 Samuel 20:41; 2 Samuel 14:33). The word for kiss in Greek is φíλι (phili) and comes from the word love (brotherly love). In fact, Peter writes, “Greet one another with a kiss of love.”
Jesus rebukes a religious Pharisee concerning his lack of a kiss in Luke 7:36-50. “A kiss you did not give me, but the woman from the moment I came in has not stopped kissing my feet.” This was a kiss of love and deep appreciation. In all his religion, he did not possess this love and appreciation.
The kiss is to be done by members of Christ’s church and is not only a love kiss but is also a holy kiss. It is a kiss done in the presence of the Holy One, a kiss set apart from all other kisses, and a kiss done in purity, sincerity, and never hypocritically. It is a kiss that is to be holy because God’s word declares it to be holy. It is to be as holy as the ground was called holy that Moses stood on.
The holy kiss is to be done by all believers. 1 Thessalonians 5:26 says, “Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.” None should be overlooked, and none should be apathetic. Here we must be careful to point out that a proper holy, loving greeting is far more important than the method used; namely lip to lip, cheek to cheek, or a deliberate warm handshake or hug. This is not to say that all methods are the biblical holy kiss. The biblical holy kiss was cheek to cheek or lip to lip and man to man or woman to woman. However, all the right methods are worthless if not done in holiness and love.
Should any today practice the biblical holy kiss, it would seem a wise practice that the reverence of Moses, when he stood on the ground called holy, be present. God’s word makes the kiss set apart and different.
It is very important that the believer’s kiss be holy. There is the seductive kiss of harlots (Proverbs 7:13) and there is the betrayal kiss of Judas to remind us that we must keep the believer’s kiss holy. As we look our brother or sister in the eye and warmly greet them, let love and holiness be received from us all.