1 Corinthians 16:19-21 – “Greetings in the Lord”

Translation and Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS 14 Mar 2010

Introduction - Forms of greeting

A. Meanings of our greetings:


B. Why greet?


C. Transition to 1 Cor 16


19. The churches of Asia [province] greet y’all.

Aquila and Prisca greet y’all profusely in the Lord,

            together with the church corresponding to their house.

20. All the brothers greet y’all.

            Greet one another with a holy kiss.

21. This greeting is in my own hand, Paul.


22. If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be cursed. Maranatha!

23. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with y’all.

24. My love is with all of y’all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

1.  The churches of Asia greet y’all (v.19a)


The next group to send greetings is a husband and wife:

2. Aquila & Prisc[ill]a-greet y’all… together with the church in their house (19b)

Who were Aquila & Priscilla?

1.      perhaps because she was of some higher social status than her husband,

2.      or perhaps because she was the more outgoing and engaging of the couple.


Moving on from Aquila and Priscilla, there is a third group which wants to greet the Corinthians:

3.  All the brothers greet y’all (v.20a)


Skipping the command at the end of verse 20 for now, we move on to a fourth party giving greetings to the Corinthians, and that is Paul himself.

4.  Paul’s handwritten greeting (vs. 21-24)

o       It starts with a curse (v.22)

o       Then it reminds them of the presence of the grace of the Lord Jesus with them (v.23)

o       And it reminds them of Paul’s Christian love for each and every one of them (v.24).

Next week, I want to look at these three parts to Paul’s greeting in depth:

 But for now, let’s go back to the command in v. 20b and consider how we can obey it:

* Greet one another with a holy kiss (v.20b)

o       When the elders of the church in Ephesus received a return visit from Paul, they kissed him (Acts 20:37).

o       In Luke 7:45, Jesus makes it clear that it was appropriate for a host to kiss his dinner guests.

o       Then there is the kiss of Judas, which must have been what he customarily did – kissed his teacher on the cheek (Luke 22:47).

o       100’s AD – Justin Martyr described a Christian worship service and wrote, “after prayers we embrace each other with a kiss.”

o       Around 200 AD – Tertullian wrote in his Apostolical Constitutions, “Let the men apart and the women apart greet each other with a kiss in the Lord.”

o       One Roman emperor apparently made a law against the kiss of greeting, indicating that it must have been practiced in the Roman church. Perhaps that’s why they started the tradition instead of kissing the bread plate in the Lord’s Supper.

o       Even in our own day, I’ve seen kisses used commonly in greetings when visited churches in Europe and Asia.

o       I’ve also seen it practiced in Brethren churches in the USA.

o       Nevertheless, modern translations like the Living Bible and The Message render the word “kiss” as a “handshake” – “Greet one another with a hearty handshake.”

o       not deceitful like Judas’ kiss,

o       not common/sensual,

o       It should be done in such a way that you remain entirely blameless.

a.         There is nothing wrong with kissing in greeting if it is done to indicate brotherly Christian love and unity.

b.       I recognize there are cultural issues surrounding greetings, and that we might not be ready to implement this point of Biblical culture here and now,

c.        but I believe we should move in the direction of this Biblical command by initiating forms of greeting that are more intimate than businesslike handshakes, such as giving a hug (again, a friendly one that is above reproach, not a sensual hug).

d.       For crying out loud, these are your brothers and sisters that you are going to spend eternity with! Go ahead and let ‘em know you love them or learn to love them!

Application of these 4 greetings together with this command:

1.      Greet people in our church!

a.       Be inclusive. Greetings indicate that someone is included in your circle of friends.

b.      As our church gets larger, you may not be able to get around to greeting everybody every Sunday, but by all means, make a point to spend some time after the service greeting some people.

c.       This will increase the unity in our church, as people are no longer left wondering, “Do they want me to be a friend or not?”

2.      If it was proper for the churches of Asia in Paul’s day to greet the church in Corinth, it is proper for us today to also recognize the worldwide brotherhood of believers in Christ Jesus and share greetings with other churches.

a.       If you ever visit another church, I want you to bring greetings to them from Christ the Redeemer Church in Manhattan KS.

b.      Recognize that you are part of a growing worldwide movement of faith in Christ Jesus, so find connecting points with other Christian groups in town and pray with those other believers, or go out on mission trips and pray for other Christians around the world.

3.       Think about what you are saying when you greet someone:

4.      Increase the level of intimacy in your greetings with brothers and/or sisters in Christ.