“Jesus saith unto her, Touch (#680) me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” John 20:17
“Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: ‘It is good for a man not to touch (#680) a woman.’ Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:1, 2 (I have taken the liberty of borrowing the quotation marks that the NIV uses in the translation of Verse 1, and I have also included the Strong’s number for the word here translated “touch.”)
#680: “haptomai; reflex of #681; prop. to attach oneself to, i.e. to touch (in many implied relations): – touch.
#681: “hapto; a prime verb; prop to fasten to i.e. (spec.) to set on fire: – kindle, light.
Paul uses this word to introduce his views on marriage, and concludes, “…it’s better to marry than burn…” 1 Corinthians 7:9.
What seems to be in view here is a particular kind of a touch, that puts one in conflict with the Kingdom or government of God.
Jesus seems to be using the word “touch” in the same way as he goes onto explain what he needs to do next, as contrasted with the rather immediate influence of Mary touching Him, “…I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.”
In short, the next thing on Jesus’ Kingdom agenda is to ascend to His Father.
In context, it is safe to say that in that moment ascending to His Father was His Father’s will for Him, and He knew it.
From Paul’s perspective we would have to say that where this kind of a touch is concerned, we need to be understand it in context. There are circumstances, where touching, even in this sense is “…the better part.” Paul explains that married couples should not deprive each other in this sense, 1 Corinthians 7:5.
That should be clear enough on its face, so then to look a little deeper into this we need to go back to what Jesus said to Mary at the grave site:
“Touch me not…” Restating this according to the meaning of the prime verb, it becomes, “Do not fasten on to me so as to set me on fire…”
While it’s possible that Jesus was concerned that Mary not be set on fire, His explanation seems to suggest that they would be “fastened” together in the flame. As for His part, His priority in the moment was to go to His Father.
This is not to imply that He was talking about the chemistry of the flesh, but rather that there was a spiritual conflict of interest in the moment. She being less spiritual than He, it was His leading of the Spirit that had to govern the conversation and the body language. It would not be long before they would be together again, but that would be a matter of the Spirit.
On the day of Pentecost, He came back to actually live in her by the Spirit. (Of course, this assumes that Mary was there that day in the upper room when the Spirit came in tongues of fire.)
What I am saying here is that there is a “touch” which can alter the content of the mind, changing it to do something other or less than God’s will. Not only is this possible where physical chemistry is concerned, but where the chemistry of the Spirit is concerned as well.
The church at Ephesus was rebuked for “leaving their first love,” for “forgetting the height from which they had fallen.” This is to say, that there is a sense in which we are to be “set on fire,” a sense in which we should be “fastened,” and it includes, in fact consists of the chemistry of The Spirit.
In the present moment I am mindful of something that the “disciple that Jesus loved” wrote in this connection:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” 1 John 1:1
It was for John, the disciple who leaned his head on Jesus’ chest at the Last Supper to make such a proclamation, one that included the fellowship of touching.
Some time ago now I had a rather masculine word picture of what happens as the result of chemical or even spiritual touch. It had to do with a reverse acting solenoid.
Commonly solenoids are operated by an electric current, which opens and closes a valve, permitting or restricting the flow of a fluid. Where this kind of “touch” is concerned, it is the fluid, which actuates the flow of electrical current, in this case to the brain, and affecting the content of the intellect. The result is that the intellect thinks differently, and comes to different conclusions, and even different priorities.
The priority of Jesus, for Instance was to go to His Father. Mary’s touch seemingly had the power to alter that priority, so it was better or, as Paul might say, “Good for her not to touch Him.”
Understanding this we can see that this kind of a touch, or the influence that it has, is different than the influence anticipated by “greeting one another with a holy kiss.” That said, it’s very important for the kissers to know what they are doing, and be in possession of godly honesty. If we can’t greet one another in that way without being set on fire with ungodly passions, then, “… it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” We need also to understand that there is a touch that “fastens” and “sets on fire” that is good and godly and desirable for the maintenance of the Spirit’s fire in the community of faith.