“The churches here in the province of Asia send greetings in the Lord, as do Aquila and Priscilla and all the others who gather in their home for church meetings. All the brothers and sisters here send greetings to you. Greet each other with a sacred kiss. HERE IS MY GREETING IN MY OWN HANDWRITING—PAUL. If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Corinthians 16:19-24 NLT
Paul sent word to the church in Corinth that the churches in Asia (the land we now call Turkey) sent their regard to their fellow saints. Aquila and Priscilla also sent their regards. Aquila and Priscilla originally met Paul in Corinth (see Acts 18:2). Aquila and Priscilla were Jewish people who had lived in Italy before moving to Corinth. They left Rome when Claudius Caesar had deported all Jews from Rome. (see Acts 18:2). Rome was the largest city of that time. Corinth very well could have been the second largest city. Paul actually lived with Aquila and Priscilla while in Corinth (see Acts 18:3). The church of Corinth were very familiar with these brethren. What a blessing to receive a letter from those who genuinely love and care for you! There was no Facebook, email, phone calls, or text messaging. Letters were the only form of communication. Such being the case, Paul had to be as comprehensive as possible when writing to them. When ending this letter, Paul sends his personal greeting by his own handwriting. Often, someone would take the dictations and record the words of the one making the address. We call them stenographers today. Paul perhaps wanted the believers in Corinth to feel his personal love for them. He tells them to greet each other as brothers in Christ with a holy kiss. This greeting was a form of personal friendship. The men would give one another a holy kiss (one not intended in any manner other than a cultural, respectful greeting). This kiss was not as we know a kiss today. This kiss was simply a customary greeting. The men didn't go around trying to kiss the ladies. That would have been inappropriate. This kind of kiss apparently was on the cheek. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Matthew 26:49; Mark 14:45; Luke 22:47-48). The idea is supposed to be a loving, respectful recognition of peace, friendship, and unity. The church today perhaps does this in shaking of hands and an embrace. Kisses of greeting are still practiced around the world today in certain cultures. There are other passages in the Epistles (letters from an Apostle) about this holy kiss. Romans 16:16; 2 Corinthians 13:12; I Thessalonians 5:26; I Peter 5:14). May God help us to love our brethren with respect and friendship.
Paul concludes this very significant Epistle with the reminder that Jesus is coming! He declares the words in Aramaic - Anathema Maranatha. (KJV). These two compounded together simply give the understanding that one is cursed if if he doesn't know Jesus Christ when Jesus returns. He then prays God's grace upon them and restates his love for them.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me love the brethren of Your church.
Rev. Curtis Norris