Where Is The Kiss?

by Greg Gwin

Someone has written to ask: “Where is the kiss?” Our correspondent lists five passages which refer to the greeting of a “holy kiss” (Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20; II Corinthians 13:12; I Thessalonians 5:26; I Peter 5:14). He goes on to say, “I remember once being told that in the place of the holy kiss we use a handshake. But is this not a violation of the exclusionary principle? If we condemn someone for using an instrument when the scriptures say sing, why do we use a handshake when the scriptures specify a kiss? Is this not an equally severe violation of Bible authority?”

Our querist has made a serious mistake. The Scriptures do not specify a kiss as the ONLY form of greeting. We read of salutations given by spoken or written word, by a wave or gesture of the hand (Acts 21:40), AND by a clasping of the hands. In Galatians 2:9, Paul mentions that James, Peter, and John ”.. . gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship.

The “exclusionary principle” does not apply here, simply because there is not one form of greeting which was taught to the exclusion of all others. In contrast to this, as we read the New Testament, we find that ONLY vocal music (singing) was used by early Christians in their worship to God. Therefore, we properly apply the principles of Biblical authority when we insist that our worship today follow that ancient pattern.

The instructions given concerning the “holy kiss” were designed as an injunction against wrong motives and impure emotions. If people greet one another with a kiss (as is still commonly practiced in many places) it must be a HOLY kiss. Such greetings provide an obvious opportunity for lustful or improper thoughts, and the statements concerning the “holy kiss” were given as a regulation of an existing practice, rather than the establishment of a new and exclusive law concerning salutation methods.