Is It Essential To Greet One Another With A Holy Kiss?
In Romans 16:16, the Bible states: "Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you." Is this an obligation that is mandatory of Christians for all times?
When rightly dividing God's word, the diligent student of God's word must take into account a hermeneutical (science of interpretation) principle which takes into consideration the temporary (customs) and the permanent (pattern for all to follow), 2 Timothy 2:15. For example, when one does an exhaustive study of the roles of men and women, then one will realize that the head-covering or veil (a temporary custom in the 1st century A.D.) is no longer necessary; yet the role of women to be submissive to the authority of men has been ongoing/permanent throughout all ages since the creation (Genesis 2; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:34,35; 1 Timothy 2:8-15).
There were many practices/methods mentioned in the Scriptures which were already in place and were customary to the ancient people (such as, the practice of greeting others with a kiss and/or with a letter, Romans 16:16, 22; hugging, Acts 20:1; and greeting a person by name, 3 John 1:14).
When the Bible writes of greeting with a holy kiss, the emphasis is on "holy" (compare to lawless "hands" in Acts 2:23 or lifting up holy "hands" in 1 Timothy 2:8). There are Bible examples of unholy kisses (such as Luke 22:47-48; Proverbs 27:6 when Judas kissed Jesus). A brother or sister in Christ was to greet in an unhypocritical manner (1 Peter 1:22,23).
The new covenant is regulating an ancient practice already in existence. Rather than giving an exclusive pattern requiring Christians to literally kiss one another (which is only one authorized way of doing so; in the United States culture we usually greet one another with a handshake or hug), the Scriptures are teaching us to greet the brethren - without one exclusive method or pattern.
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