HomeVisionStatement Of FaithArticlesPhoto GalleryEditor's NoteLinksContact

Entertaining Angels Unaware

Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Hebrews 13:1-2

Hospitality is a very important godly attribute. It is the practice of entertaining strangers graciously. The New Testament word "hospitality" means "love of strangers."

The friend of God, Abraham was warm and friendly towards visiting angels, totally unaware of their true identities. He invited these "strangers" into his house, washed their feet and prepared a meal of meat as his wife Sarah baked bread. He later went with them to send them on their way (Gen. 18:1-17). Even today a traditional greeting to the guests among the nomadic people of the Middle East is "You are among your family."

And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. (Lev 19:33-34)

Hospitality was specifically commanded by God (Lev. 19:33-34; Luke 14:13-14; Rom. 12:13). It was to be characteristic of all believers (1 Pet. 4:9), especially bishops (Titus 1:7-8; 1 Tim. 3:2). Jesus emphasized the importance of hospitality by answering the question of who should inherit the kingdom: "I was a stranger and you took Me in" (Matt. 25:35).

Several Old Testament personalities set a good example for all believers in the practice of hospitality. These included Abraham (Gen. 18:1-8); David (2 Sam. 6:19); the Shunammite woman (2 Kin. 4:8-10); Nehemiah (Neh. 5:17-18); and Job (Job 31:17-20).

Psalm 23 paints a beautiful portrait of a generous host who prepares a table for the weary, anoints the head of the guest with oil, and shows mercy and kindness until the guest's cup runs over. The psalmist sees the Lord Himself as Host; His hospitality extending to all and above all.

The New Testament also gives examples of gracious hospitality: Mary (Matt. 26:6-13); Martha (Luke 10:38); the early Christians (Acts 2:45-46); Lydia (Acts 16:14-15); and Priscilla and Aquila (Acts 18:26).

In the last of the three endtime parables in Matthew 25, we read:

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' (Matthew 25:37-40)

Sometimes, "angels" come naked, sick or saddled with problems. Whatever conditions, only discerning hearts will see them, host and love them unconditionally and be blessed.

Angels are watching over us, can we in return watch over (entertain) them?

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary