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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Kiss (2)

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KISS.—Originally a token of affection belonging to the intimate conditions of family life, but extended to more general relationships.

1. To kiss the hands is the expression of respect towards seniority and higher rank. Children in Oriental homes are taught to rise at the entrance of visitors and salute in this way. It is also their first form of greeting to parents and adult relatives before being kissed on the lips and cheek by them. When two sheikhs meet they kiss each other’s hands in recognition of the rank held by each. Kissing the hand, or making an attempt to do so, often occurs when one person receives a commission from another or undertakes to do some work for him. The feeling of respect originating in the relationship of child to parent is extended to that of employed and employer.

With regard to the salutation of Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:47-48), to have kissed the hand of Christ after the interval of absence caused by his conference with the chief priests would have been but an ordinary tribute of respect, and as such would have escaped the notice of the disciples, while giving the required information to those who had come with him. If, on the other hand, the kiss was on the face, it was an act of presumption for an Oriental disciple to take the initiative in offering to his master the salutation of equal friendship. The prodigal son, in meeting his father, would be described as kissing his hands before being embraced and kissed by the latter (Luke 15:20).

2. Among those of the same age, and where the relationships of life permitted it, the salutation is given sometimes on the lips, but more frequently on the check or neck. For intimate relatives or acquaintances of the same sex to part for a time, or to meet after a period of separation without such salutation, would seem strained and unnatural (Luke 15:20). In this form of greeting all thought of superior and inferior is lost in the equality of affection and identity of interest (Acts 20:37). Such was the kiss of peace or salutation of goodwill that prevailed for a time in the congregations of the early Church. It testified to the new bond of fellowship in the family of the firstborn, and was called a holy kiss (Romans 16:16) as a reminder of Christian sainthood, and also a kiss of love (1 Peter 5:14) made possible by the love that had given them such discipleship and communion.

G. M. Mackie.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Kiss (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/k/kiss-2.html. 1906-1918.

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