What does God say about how Christians are to greet one another?

Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you. (Romans 16:16)

All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss. (1 Corinthians 16:20)

Greet one another with an holy kiss. (2 Corinthians 13:12)

Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. (1 Thessalonians 5:26)

Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity. (1 Peter 5:14)

All five of these examples about greeting one another with a kiss are commandments, the Greek imperative form. If God came up to you and said greet your brother with a holy kiss, are you going to turn around and give him a handshake?

Romans 16:16 “Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you.” : A divine command for believers to greet one another with an holy kiss. The holy kiss is meant literally. There is no reason from the context or the nature of a greeting to understand kiss figuratively. Greeting by a physical kiss is one of the ways that people really greet others. For example, this is a common way people greet in France and in Russia, and some cultures in South America. How then can we reject a literal reading in favor of a figurative one? How can we say that the Lord did not mean a literal kiss? That would be wrong. A kiss on the cheek fulfills this command, although some say it was also practiced on the lips. Women are included in the list of salutations (Romans 16 v. 3 and 6), so they too are to be greeted by brothers in this manner. After all, we are brothers and sisters. In Luke 7:45, Jesus faulted his host for not giving him a kiss.

Let us consider how natural families greet. Family members in greeting seem at times almost bursting to pour out their love in a way that conveys great closeness. They seem to have an instinctive desire to have lots of touch with a hug or even a kiss on the cheek even in cultures that usually do not greet this way. Is the church not a family that fellowships in communion and love with one another?

Let’s consider babies. Kissing babies is quite loved and enjoyed, again, in cultures that usually do not greet with a kiss. Why do humans naturally kiss babies? They are adorable and loveable. We are at complete peace with them. We want to show lots of affection to them.

If God wanted any greeting with love and peace expressed, he is more than able to have said so. He could have commanded us to greet each other with any physical token of our love and fellowship. However, God commanded a specific physical token, the kiss, which was meant literally, a real kiss.

According to God’s divine way, the holy kiss is a sign of our great love, trust, and closeness with other members of our family.

The most common argument against a real kiss is because it is not culturally acceptable. What is culture? Culture is the way of living. Of whom? of men. Therefore, many believers read the Bible, then look at the way of men, and finally argue that this should replace God’s way in the Bible. This is wrong. Again, there is no reason to understand this figuratively rather than literally. People around the world really do greet each other with kisses. If we live in a culture where it is not practiced, Christians are to be those who follow God's way over man's way.

What is one of the reasons believers do not want to obey God? comfort. Those who are not used to a kiss are uncomfortable with it. However, we need to be conformed to the ways of God versus the ways of men. Should we let various cultures transform Scripture, or should we let the Bible transform the culture? As the Lord said, “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:6). Why should believers who are all one family and are commanded to love each other be embarrassed to show it physically with a kiss. What is so difficult with a kiss? We aren’t talking about an act of devotion like slashing our skulls done by the Muslims, or putting a long sword through our cheeks like Hindus. We are talking about putting our lips to another believer’s cheek as a token of love, peace, and fellowship. Can’t we do that for our God?

Also, who are we to say that the Most High commanded a holy kiss only because of cultural reasons? Many have assumed that, but do we know it is true? no. When man gives his own reason outside of Scripture that he thinks is why God made a command, which then is no longer applicable to him, he believes he does not have to obey, thereby emptying the Word of God of its power and nullifying a commandment himself. If the Scripture does not make clear the reason for a command, then we cannot disobey on the basis that we think we know the reason for it and that it no longer applies to us. God does not say it was because of the culture of the time that he commanded a kiss, and we should not assume this to be the case in order to disobey it. God who made man, and designed the close connections between our body, mind, and heart knows what is the most loving and blessed form of greeting between His saints, His holy ones. God on an absolute level commanded a holy kiss because He willed it as the greeting of His people, knowing the great love and affection that would be communicated by it. For us to instead look to the way of man and say it should replace God’s way contradicts the Word and dishonors the Lawgiver. May we mortals humble ourselves and see that the Almighty knows much better than man how to do things, including how his children ought to greet one another. God’s way is the holy kiss.

When the kiss has the right heart behind it, then it is a beautiful godly way for us to greet our family in Christ. The divine mode of greeting for believers is the loving irreplaceable holy kiss, which is a command to be obeyed.