I recently learned about the idea of Greeting in Romans 16. Greeting is not just saying “Hi” to other believers, but it is to embrace, to be joined, a union, to visit or joyfully welcome a person (Strong’s and Thayer’s dictionaries).
As I was reading through the Bible this year, I came across 1 Peter 5:13, and 14 which ends the same way as Romans 16; with the encouragement to greet. 1 Peter 5:13-14 says, “She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” This prompted me to see if the word Greet was the same as it was in Romans. It turns out that it is, but I discovered something interesting about the meaning of the word.
The Strong’s Dictionary definition of Greet is, g0782. ἀσπάζομαι aspazomai; which is from 2 words: from 1 (as a particle of union), and a presumed form of 4685; to enfold in the arms, i.e. (by implication) to salute, (figuratively) to welcome: — embrace, greet, salute, take leave. The interesting part is that the first part of the word is a particle has the meaning of union. The second part of the word is from Strong’s 4685. This definition is, σπάω spaō; a primary verb; to draw: — draw (out).
This gives us an insightful way of looking at greeting. Greeting is visiting or gathering with other saints to draw out the oneness that we already have through the Spirit. Greeting is not to spy on the saints to make sure they are "doing the right thing", but it is to evoke the reality of what the Spirit has accomplished in and among us.
A friend of mine and I have been visiting some small gatherings that meet in homes over the past few months. Sometimes these gatherings start off somewhat chaotically, not in a bad way; almost like a car trying to get traction in the snow. Various people are sharing, which at first things seem disjointed, but then something happens. There is a coalescing of the Spirit and an opening of our spirits to the Lord.
I have noticed at nearly every gathering of this type that they end with a surprising oneness. Again, just like a car getting traction in the snow, things have to slow down a bit before they become oriented. When the Lord is building his ekklesia the building will not be according to my way, but according to his desire and pleasure. The outcome of any particular gathering that is being led by the Spirit is pleasing to the Lord, and regardless of whether or not I am comfortable with it, there is a sense that the Lord is pleased by everyone in the gathering.
So greeting saints in another gathering, one you are not used to, or better yet, one you are not comfortable with, becomes a backdrop to see how the Lord will work to get a oneness that is beyond anything we could imagine or manufacture, and certainly beyond the unity that religion can attain by politics and compromise.
Song of Songs 1:4 says, “Draw me, we will run after you!” The drawing out is something we can let the Lord do through us which will result in oneness. “Draw me” is the first part. Let the Lord draw you to himself so that you know him and know how to draw others to Him. “We (together) will run after you” is the second part. The result of letting the Lord draw you to himself is that others will be drawn to the Lord with you.