What does the Bible say about greeting others, especially about greeting among Christians?
The Bible, especially the epistles, is full of greetings. Every epistle in the New Testament begins with a greeting and ends with a greeting.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7b NASB)
At the end of the Epistle to the Romans, Paul dedicates an entire chapter to send greetings to loved ones. I quote only a small part of this chapter below:
“Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” (Romans 16:3-7 NASB)
Interestingly, by sending greetings, Paul not only greets them, but uses this opportunity to appreciate the work that each of them does. So the greeting is more than just a “Hello!” or “Goodbye.”
Greeting is a way to show your respect and appreciation for someone.
After greeting about 26 people in this chapter, Paul, in order not to lose sight of anyone, commands them the following:
“Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.” (Romans 16:16 NASB)
Greeting is a commandment. Christians in the early church greeted each other with a holy kiss. Regardless of the people, greeting is a way to show respect for another person. After Paul sent his greetings to each one by name, from verse 21 we see that even those who were with him did not want to end the letter without greeting the recipients. Thus in verse 21 we find the following written:
“Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen. I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord. Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 16: 21-24 NASB)
How beautifully Christians greeted each other. If they could send greetings from a distance, through a letter, how do you think they would have greeted each other if they had seen each other face to face? Greeting is a way to show your respect, an opportunity to encourage someone, to give a smile, a hug, to honor those to whom you owe honor, as Scripture says:
“Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”(Romans 13:7 NASB)
I once witnessed a very unpleasant situation. Someone came to a work meeting of a Christian organization, sat at the meeting, then greeted those who came to greet him, after which he left without even approaching and greeting the leaders of that organization… I thought that this is not the case even with unbelievers, but especially not with God’s children. Such behavior is proof of a total lack of common sense, but I think it is also a spiritual problem. A man with a heart full of contentment, joy, peace, can’t wait to shake hands with others and wish them well. Moreover, the Bible says:
“You shall rise up before the gray headed and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:32 NASB)
Gray hair was a sign not only of old age, but also of wisdom, of authority. The fact that you work under someone’s leadership and you don’t even have the common sense to approach to honor them with a greeting, this, according to the same verse above, shows that, in fact, you do not fear God either. God teaches us to stand up, as a sign of honor and respect for the gray headed, and to honor all people, especially those who are in a higher position than us. You don’t have to do it because they ask you to, but it is a manifestation also for the good and peace of your soul. The Pharisees and scribes dressed in long robes and walked through the markets, so that people could see them and bow to them (Luke 20:46). For them, the bowing of people was a priority, but I am not talking about such an “honor.” Those people bowed down to the Pharisees, but they had no respect in their hearts. I am talking about the attitude of a pure and fulfilled heart with God, a heart that gladly shows respect and appreciation for people, out of pure love and not with hypocrisy. In fact, the apostle Paul said to his disciples:
“nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.” (1 Thessalonians 2: 6 NASB).
Your disrespectful behavior affects you in the first place. You alone hurt yourself, and a child of God should not behave like that…
Do not abuse the attention of those around you
There is also a limit to which we must be aware. There are two extremes here (people are tempted to fall into extremes and less and less to maintain a balance). If some are quick to blow you off without greeting each other, then others, when they approach, demand all your attention only for themselves. This, in my opinion, is still a lack of common sense. When the pastor is talking to someone and someone comes and bursts into their discussion, they greet him, take his hand and pull him aside, because he has an important word to say to him, this is still a lack of good sense. Respect all people and it is nice in this case to wait a bit and then, after the discussion, to approach and greet.
Be very careful not to be the one who, when he approaches to greet, keeps talking and telling meaningless stories, until the pastor or the given person no longer knows how to tell you that he has to leave. Do not abuse someone’s attention, but be wise.
I want to end with this verse that says:
“Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”(1 Peter 2:17 NASB)
May God help us to honor all people, to love our brothers and to show that we fear Him!
Translated by Olya Trikolich