“And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him” (Acts 20:37).
The scene depicted in our text touches even the most cold hearted. Paul, the beloved founder of the Ephesian church, who had ministered extensively in the area, was on his way to Jerusalem and almost certain imprisonment. Recognizing that they would probably “see his face no more” (v.38), they showered their love and affection on him. In fact, the Greek word translated “kissed” (kataphileo) is actually in an intensive form and means to kiss repeatedly.
The same intensive word is found four times in the gospels—once in a parable and the other three referring to Christ.
Speaking of the wayward son, “when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20) repeatedly and lovingly. What a beautiful picture of the Heavenly Father’s love for us, and the forgiveness He so freely showers on His wayward children.
Once, as Jesus ate at the home of a Pharisee, a prostitute “stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed His feet” (Luke 7:38) over and over again, in gratitude for His forgiveness and cleansing.
Compare these precious instances with the time that one of His inner circle betrayed Him. “Forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed Him” (Matthew 26:49; see also Mark 14:45). As before, this was not a simple kiss of recognition or greeting, this was a blasphemous, traitorous, shower of kisses, feigning adoration, but revealing an inner pride and rebellion.
May our love for Him be as that of the forgiven sinner, and not as that of the hypocrite. JDM