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1 Thessalonians 5:26

ESV Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
NIV Greet all God's people with a holy kiss.
NASB Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.
CSB Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.
NLT Greet all the brothers and sisters with a sacred kiss.
KJV Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss.

What does 1 Thessalonians 5:26 mean?

Paul urges the Thessalonian church to be friendly. It was customary in the culture of Paul's time for friends to greet each other with a kiss. Men would greet other men this way, and women would greet other women in similar fashion. Today, believers should extend a warm verbal greeting and a firm handshake to one another, which are the modern-day equivalents to the "holy kiss" of that era. This matters for our welcoming of non-believers, as well. Nothing freezes the spiritual interest of a church visitor as quickly as a cold congregation.

Within the church, this verse cuts to the idea of fellowship. Fellowship means more than simply gathering for a church potluck, it is the sharing of genuine love for one another as we partner in the work of the gospel. If believers greet one another and ask, "How are you?" but really don't care what the answer will be, they are hypocrites not friends. If they tell one another, "I will pray for you," but fail to pray, they are hypocrites, not friends. If a church practices bias, giving preferential treatment to the rich or famous, it is not a friendly church, and falls under the censure of James 2:3–4. Rather, we ought to greet each other in a holy, selfless, and sincere way.
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