The Apostle Paul uses this term four times in his letters.  He says in Romans 16:16, “Salute one another with an holy kiss…”  He repeats that instruction in 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26.  The Apostle Peter uses similar language in 1 Peter 5:14 where he says, “Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.”

The custom of greeting one another with a kiss was prominent in the regions at that time.  Even today, many people, especially those in the far-east often greet each other with a kiss.  The language of Paul and Peter indicate that the salutation, or greeting, to fellow believers should show Christian affection.

We know that it was customary to greet others with a kiss in the time of Christ.  Once, when the Lord Jesus visited the home of a Pharisee named Simon, a lady that was known to be a sinner came and washed the Lord’s feet.  The Pharisees criticized the Lord between themselves.  Then, we read in Luke 7:44-45, “And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.”  Apart from the good lesson we get from this portion, we can see that it would have been proper for Simon to greet the Lord with a kiss when he visited him in his home.

Judas used a kiss to identify the Lord Jesus to the multitude in an act of betrayal.  Luke 22:47-48 says, “And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”  The Lord’s words to Judas show that this type of greeting was intended to show affection, but Judas had used it as an act of great betrayal.  This was no ‘holy kiss’; this was an ‘unholy kiss’.

Perhaps our customs may prevent us from kissing each other today, especially in the Western countries, but there are still good ways to show that we have Christian affection when we greet other believers.  A pat on the back, a friendly smile, a hearty ‘Hello’, or a hug are a few ways to ‘tell’ someone that you love them in the Lord.  Of course, a ‘holy kiss’ between fellow Christians should not be criticized, but accepted.  (156.8)