Amplified: LET LOVE for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail]. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
NIV: Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. (NIV - IBS)
NLT: Continue to love each other with true Christian love. (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: Never let your brotherly love fail (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Let the brotherly affection continue. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: Let brotherly love remain;
LET LOVE OF THE BRETHREN CONTINUE: e philadelphia meneto (3SPAM): (Heb 6:10,11 10:24 Jn 13:34,35 15:17 Acts 2:1,44, 45, 46 4:32 Ro 12:9,10 Gal 5:6,13,22 Eph 4:3 5:2 Php 2:1, 2, 3 1Th 4:9,10 2Th 1:3 1Pe 1:22 1Pe 2:17 3:8 4:8 2Pe 1:7 1Jn 2:9,10 3:10-18,23 4:7, 8, 9, 10, 11,20,21 1Jn 5:1 2Jn 1:5,6 Rev 2:4)
Puritan David Dickson wrote the following comment in 1632 - Let brotherly love continue. From the first precept, learn (1) That the first fruit of faith which God requireth is love and constant love among His children. (2) That our mutual love, must be sincere and kindle as if it were grounded on bands of nature. (David Dickson - Commentary on Hebrews 1632 - downloads 11MB Pdf)
The brief exhortation (Heb 13:22) to the Hebrews follows the pattern of most NT epistles (see table above). Doctrine is followed by a call to duty, what to believe is followed by how to behave, theology should affect transform one's ethics (Related resource: Application).
Dods labels Hebrews 13:1-6 - Exhortations to social manifestations of their Christianity (Hebrews 13 Commentary - The Expositor's Greek Testament)
As I was compiling these notes it struck me that the most difficult brethren to love often are those who are closest to us - Husbands and wives, parents and children, in laws (who we often treat like "outlaws"!). Beloved, I am convicted that I need to begin in my "Jerusalem" (Acts 1:8-note) and empowered by the Holy Spirit, I am to bear "witness" of the supernatural power of a new heart (2Co 5:17-note) to those closest to me by continually letting love of the brethren continue! Too often I think of the brethren who are far removed from my sphere of influence and find it easier to show them love. God is saying to me (and perhaps to you), let love of the brethren continue right where I have you situated, right in the middle of the circumstances I have providentially ordained. That's where I (we) need to obey this command empowered by the Spirit of grace and motivated by a desire (Php 2:13NLT-note) and ambition to be pleasing to Him (2Co 5:9-note), knowing that we shall all stand before the Judgment Seat (bema) of Christ and be recompensed for the deeds we have done in the our body, including how we demonstrated love to the brethren. (2Co 5:10-note) Husbands (I'm one for some 46 years) do you hear God's call to show love to your wives? (Eph 5:25-note- Don't try to accomplish this in your own/old strength! You can't! But you can filled with His Spirit! Eph 5:18-note) Wives do you hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches? Children, are you listening? May God be greatly glorified by Spirit filled saints who seek to supernaturally love the brethren for the sake of the One Who loved us supremely in Christ (1Jn 3:16, Ro 5:8-note). Amen.
Blest be the tie that binds
A W Pink sees a link between chapter 12 and 13 (remember chapter breaks were not inspired and occasionally are poorly placed)…
So far from there being a radical break between Heb. 12 and 13 the closing verses of the former and the opening ones of the latter are closely linked together. There the apostle had mentioned the principal duties which believers are to perform Godwards, namely, to “hear” (Heb 12:25-note) and to “serve Him acceptably” (Heb 12:28); here, he tabulates those duties which are to be performed manwards. He begins with what is really the sum and substance of all the rest, brotherly love: first, the loving of God with all our heart, and then our neighbor as ourselves…
Matthew. Henry well pointed out, “the spirit of Christianity is a spirit of love.” The fruit of the Spirit is love (Gal. 5:22-note). Faith works by love (Gal. 5:6). “Everyone that loves Him that begat loves him also that is begotten of Him” (1Jn 5:1). Love to the brethren is both the first indication and fruit of the Christian life (Acts 16:33) and the final aim and result of Divine grace (2Pe 1:7-note). (Hebrews 13:1 Brotherly Love)
The first 10 chapters of Hebrews are almost pure doctrine and directed primarily to Jewish readers who had heard the Good News of the Messiah but who were in need of affirmation that the Person and Priesthood of Christ and His the New Covenant in His blood was superior to the angels, to Moses, to the priesthood of Aaron, to the Old Covenant and to the Levitical sacrificial system. The ultimate aim of the writer was to speak these truths about Christ so that their faith would be firmly anchored and unshakeable. And that is why he encourages them with the examples from their own history (Heb 11:1, 2ff-note), so that they might run the race of faith with endurance (Heb 12:1-note, Heb 12:2-note), pursuing peace and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14-note). Now in Hebrews 13 the writer is emphasizing that true faith demands true living.
And so it is not surprising that this chapter ends with a number of exhortations related to a believer's conduct…
M R De Haan has an interesting introduction to chapter 13 writing that "AT the close of a school semester, or upon completion of a prescribed course of study it is customary for the teachers to subject the students to a test or examination to determine how much the pupil has absorbed and retained of that which was taught in the daily class sessions. The results of these finals have an important bearing on the final grade, and may determine whether the individual will pass or not. No matter how brilliant the student may have been in his daily assignments, if he “flunks” his final, it will pull his average down, for the term’s marks are determined largely on the final examination. Some students are like a sieve, knowledge just runs through; others are reservoirs for the storing up of knowledge as a source of refreshing and power for the future. We can apply this method to the study of the Bible. As you read the epistles, you will notice that as a rule several chapters are devoted to the doctrinal teaching of the Word, and then the last chapter or chapters are devoted to a practical application of these truths, to be translated into action. Such is the case in the Book of Hebrews… The test is in the form of a quiz program, where the student is presented with a set of suggested questions and permitted to grade himself. The examination opens with a statement. Let brotherly love continue (Heb. 13:1). (De Haan, M. R. Studies in Hebrews. Kregel Publications)
Spurgeon - The word “continue” implies that the “brotherly love” exists, there are many things which might put an end to it, so see to it that, as far as you are concerned, it continues. Under all provocations, and under all disappointments, “let brotherly love continue.”....It is supposed to be there already; let it continue, not only love of a common kind, such as we are to have to all men, but that special “brotherly love” which Christians bear to one another as members of one family. “Let brotherly love continue.”
Henry Alford - Let it then remain, not die out. And it is put first, as being the first of the fruits of faith. The exhortations in Heb 3:12, 13.; Heb 10:24, 25.; Heb 12:12, 13, 14, point the same way). (Hebrews 13 The New Testament for English Readers)
The writer issues this exhortation as a present imperative, a command signifying that this was to be their supernaturally enabled, Spirit filled, grace strengthened habitual practice! In addition he uses the middle voice which signifies the subject initiates the action and participates in the carrying out of the action or the results of the action. This voice is reflexive and gives the sense "you yourself let it continue." Remember that God's commands always include His enablement, specifically the power of the Holy Spirit to prompt this desire in us and then to enable us to obey in love.
Two verses prior in Heb 12:28-note the phrase "have gratitude" is more literally translated as "continually having grace". It is when we are empowered by grace that we can offer to God an acceptable service in reverence and awe. Now as those in the New Covenant of grace, these readers can demonstrate love to the brethren because this grace gives them a new motivation and power (cp Ezekiel 36:26, 27-note, Php 2:12-note, Php 2:13-note). Don't try to "love the brethren" in your own power (your old natural power) for you can't do it, but God can and He promised to do it in us and through us!
The use of the verb continue indicates that such love already exists as recorded earlier "For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. (Heb 6:10-note)
Comment: Note that this love to the saints was "toward His Name" and I would add therefore was for His fame! His glory and fame are always to be the aim of our good works initiated and energized by His Spirit.
The use of the verb meno suggests that the bond had been in danger of being severed. (See comment below by Hughes)
W E Vine writes that brotherly love "is a law of the kingdom just mentioned (Heb 12:28). It is an evidence of heavenly citizenship. The exhortation suggests that such love had existed and needed maintaining.
Love is the binding power which holds the body of the Christian church together. -Stephen Olford
No man can love a saint, as a saint, but a saint. - Richard Sibbes
The measure of our love for others can largely be determined by the frequency and earnestness of our prayers for them. - A. W. Pink
A W Pink adds that "let… continue" includes the idea of enduring in the face of difficulties and temptations. That which is enjoined is perseverance in a pure and unselfish affection toward fellow-Christians. Brotherly love is a tender plant which requires much attention: if it be not watched and watered, it quickly wilts. It is an exotic, for it is not a native of the soil of fallen human nature—“hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3) is a solemn description of what we were in our unregenerate state. Yes, brotherly love is a very tender plant and quickly affected by the cold air of unkindness, easily nipped by the frost of harsh words. If it is to thrive, it must needs be carefully protected and diligently cultivated… Yes, a most needful exhortation is this: not only because hatred so largely sways the world, but also because of the state of Christendom. Here is a searching question which each of us should honestly face: Is my love for the brethren keeping pace with my growing (intellectual) knowledge of the Truth? “Let brotherly love continue.” What a solemn word is this! Is the reader startled by that adjective?—a needful and humbling one, but scarcely a “solemn.” Ah, have we forgotten the context? Look at the verse which immediately precedes, and remember that when this epistle was first written there were no chapter-breaks: Heb 12:29 and Heb 13:1 read consecutively, without any hiatus—our God is a consuming fire: let brotherly love continue! The fact these two verses are placed in immediate juxtaposition strikes a most solemn note.
Wuest - Expositor’s labels these exhortations (Heb 1–3) as exhortations to social manifestations of the Christianity of the recipients of this letter. The same authority says: “In the general decay of their faith, tendencies to disown Christian fellowship had become apparent (Heb 10:24, 25).” (Hebrews - Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament)
Love of the brethren (5360) (philadelphia from phílos = beloved, dear, friendly + adelphós = brother, from the same womb) means "fraternal love", brotherly love (kindness), love of the brethren. Brotherly love normally referred to the love members of a family held for each other (this was the way it was used in secular Greek) and would not normally be used to describe the love between members of different families.
In secular Greek use philadelphia described love of those who were actually related by blood, but here in Hebrews (and elsewhere in the NT) philadelphia describes the kinship among those who are in children of God, members of the same family (John 1:12, 13) "all from one Father" (Heb 2:11-note, Mt 23:8, 9, Compare the phrase "God our Father" in Ro 1:7 1Cor 1:3 2Cor 1:2 Gal 1:3 Eph 1:2 Php 1:2 Col 1:2 2Th 1:1 2Th 2:16 Philemon 1:3). As an aside unregenerate Jews never referred to God as their Father (cp Jn 8:39). And so in the NT philadelphia is describes the love that believers possess for one to another, for even though they were members of different natural families, they are united in Christ and were recipients of family love originating from the Father Who had bestowed His great love on His spiritual children (1Jn 3:1-note).
Philadelphia describes a love which calls for an affection for one another like that one expressed between natural family members. Wuest adds that the related verb phileo "speaks of human affection, fondness, a non-ethical, though perfectly legitimate, form of love."
This new radical relationship between believers is hinted at in the the other root word of philadelphia, adelphós, which describes one from the same womb. As Kenneth Wuest explains, the fact that all believers have their "new birth" from "the same womb" (Jn 3:3), is a truth which forms "the basis of their Christian fondness and affection for each other, the source of their Christian fellowship."
And so, in the New Covenant of grace believing Greeks and Jews, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarians, Scythians, slaves and freemen, men and women are now all one in their Lord (cp Gal 3:28, Col 3:11-note, Eph 4:1, 2, 3-note). Such a diverse cultural community would have continual need for emphasis on continuing to love the brethren.
It should also be noted that love of the brethren is not just a passive disposition of fondness but manifests itself in overt acts of kindness toward the brethren, acts which are described in subsequent passages (showing hospitality Heb 13:2, remembering those in prison Heb 13:3, etc).
Phillip Hughes writes that "our author has provided the key to the correct theological understanding of this brotherly relationship in an important passage (Heb 2:11ff.), where it becomes plain that the brotherhood enjoyed among Christians derives from Christ himself, first of all by his incarnation through which he became one with us as a fellow human being, and second by our becoming one with him through our experience of the redemption which he has accomplished for us. Christian brotherhood, therefore, is essentially brotherhood in Christ; for as he is the only Son (Heb 1:2, 5ff., etc.) so, as has already been stressed, it is through union with him that we participate in the grace of his sonship, and in him are accepted as the sons of God and, as sons, brothers and fellow heirs with him who is the heir of all things (Heb 1:2; Ro 8:14-17; Eph 1:5-7, 11-14; Jn 1:13). If our brotherhood derives from Christ, so also does our love as brothers. His infinite love for us is the source and stimulus of our love for each other. Hence the precept given by the Master in the upper room: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34; cf. 15:12, 17; 2Jn 5; 1Jn 3:11, 14, 16-18; 4:7-12). (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews- Philip Edgcumbe Hughes)
Guzik - In the ancient Greek language the New Testament was written in, there were four words at hand that we might translate love. Eros was one word for love. It described, as we might guess from the word itself, erotic love. It refers to sexual love. Storge was a second word for love. It refers to family love, the kind of love there is between a parent and child, or between family members in general. Agape is another word for love. It is the most powerful word for love in the New Testament, and is often used to describe God’s love towards us. It is a love that loves without changing. It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given - it gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive. Agape love isn’t about feelings, it is about decisions. But the word for love used in Hebrews 13:1 is philadelphia, coming from the root philia. This ancient Greek word speaks of a brotherly friendship and affection. It is the love of deep friendship and partnership. There should always be plenty of this kind of love among Christians, and it should continue.
J N Darby discusses the relationship of brotherly love to agape love noting that the latter "in its root, is the nature of God Himself, the source and perfection of every other quality that adorns Christian life. The distinction between agape love and brotherly love is of deep importance; the former is indeed the source whence the latter flows; but as this brotherly love exists in mortal men, it may be mingled in its exercise with sentiments that are merely human, with individual affection, with the effect of personal attractions, or that of habit, of suitability in natural character. Nothing is sweeter than brotherly affections; their maintenance is of the highest importance in the assembly; but they may degenerate, as they may grow cool; and if agape love, if God, does not hold the chief place, they may displace Him—set Him aside—shut Him out. Divine agape love, which is the very nature of God, directs, rules, and gives character to brotherly love; otherwise it is that which pleases us—that is, our own heart—that governs us. If divine agape love governs me, I love all my brethren; I love them because they belong to Christ; there is no partiality. I shall have greater enjoyment in a spiritual brother; but I shall occupy myself about my weak brother with a love that rises above his weakness and has tender consideration for it. I shall concern myself with my brother’s sin, from love to God, in order to restore my brother, rebuking him, if needful; nor, if divine love be in exercise, can brotherly love, or its name, be associated with disobedience. In a word, God will have His place in all my relationships. To exact brotherly love in such a manner as to shut out the requirements of that which God is, and of His claims upon us, is to shut out God in the most plausible way, in order to gratify our own hearts. Divine agape love then, which acts according to the nature, character, and will of God, is that which ought to direct and characterize our whole Christian walk, and have authority over every movement of our hearts. Without this, all that brotherly love can do is to substitute man for God. Divine love is the bond of perfectness, for it is God, who is love, working in us and making Himself the governing object of all that passes in the heart.
S Lewis Johnson - You’ve heard people say, “I love all the saints; but some I love better at a distance.” Well, that’s not Christian love. “I love them all, but there are some I don’t like.” Well, that’s not Christian love either. Those may be facts about our human experience, but they’re not Christian expressions. It certainly is not the ideal. “Let brotherly love continue.” In fact, we all know that the only way in which we can love brethren is by the divine love that is in our hearts by virtue of the work of the Holy Spirit. And so we all need to call upon the Holy Spirit within to enable us to love our Christian brethren and sisters. (Hebrews)
John emphasizes the importance of love of the brethren warning his readers that "If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love (agapao = expression of divine love) his brother whom he has seen, cannot love (agapao) God whom he has not seen. (1Jn 4:20)
Peter echoes John's point writing "Since you have in obedience (faith that obeys) to the truth purified your souls for (faith that saves leads to brotherly love) a sincere love of the brethren (philadelphia), fervently love one another from the heart for (Peter explains why we should and how we can love one another declaring that) you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God. (1Pe 1:22,23-note)
In a word, the love of the brethren proves that one is truly born again. John reiterates this truth writing…
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. (1Jn 3:14)
Henry Morris comments: Here is another test for knowing whether we are truly saved and have "passed from death unto life" (Jn 5:24; 1Jn 2:3,5; 3:24; 5:2,13). John gives three characteristics of true love for our brethren: doing righteousness (1John 3:10); willingness to die for them (1Jn 3:16); willingness to share our possessions with them" (1Jn 3:17).
A W Pink - you may, dear reader, be afraid to affirm that you love God, but do you not love His people? If you do, you must have been born again, and have in you the same spiritual nature which is in them. But do I love them? Well, do you relish their company, admire what you see of Christ in them, wish them well, pray for them, and seek their good? If so, you certainly love them. But not only is the exercise of Christian love a testimony unto the world of our Christian discipleship, and a sure evidence of our own regeneration, but it is also that which delights God Himself. Of course it does! It is the product of His own grace: the immediate fruit of His Spirit. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps 133:1) is what the Lord Himself declares.
Olford - No one can be a true Christian without a love for his brethren; and this, in itself, should be the ultimate motivation for giving hospitality to all the people of God. Martin Luther once said that we need to see ourselves as water fountains: the love of God first flowing into us and then out of us to others.
Gromacki - At conversion all believers are immediately implanted with a genuine love for God and for His children (1Th 4:9-note; 1Jn 3:14; 4:19). That love, however, needs to be increased by the effort of each believer (Heb 10:24-note; 1Th 4:9; 2Pe 1:7-note). The readers possessed true brotherly love, a sign of their regeneration. The appeal is for its daily maintenance and proper manifestation (Continue = present active imperative). (Stand Bold in Grace An Exposition of Hebrews)
As Darby and Johnson allude to in the previous discussion, the way one loves the brethren now is not by our natural powers but is by the supernatural enablement of and dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Paul taught that "the (agape) love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Ro 5:5-note) and "the fruit of the Spirit is (agape) love." (Gal 5:22-note)
In view of the fact that believers now have a supernatural source of power to love unconditionally and sacrificially, Paul exhorts the saints in Rome to…
Be devoted (philostorgos from philos = beloved, dear + storge = family love, love of parents and children) to one another in brotherly love (philadelphia); give preference to one another in honor (Ro 12:10-note)
Paul commends the saints in Thessalonica for their love…
Now as to the love of the brethren (philadelphia), you have no need for anyone to write to you, for (Paul now explains how philadelphia love is possible) you yourselves are taught by God to love (agapao in the present tense = habitually, as your new way of life) one another (1Thes 4:9-note) (Related Resource: Study the "one anothers" - most positive, some negative)
Now that saints have access to God's precious and magnificent promises (2Pe 1:4-note) and are called to be partakers of His divine nature (2Pe 1:4), we are to be diligent to grow in Christlikeness, in our faith, increasing in a number of attributes including "brotherly kindness" (philadelphia) (2Pet 1:5-note, 2Pe 1:7-note)
Jesus says brotherly love is the badge of a believer declaring "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (Jn 13:35).
Brotherly love is (should be) the natural outflow of a follower of Christ. True brotherly love cannot be self generated (as least in the sense that it brings glory to God, for apart from His initiating and enabling the work, it is our work, the work of a "branch" rather than of the Vine, Christ Jesus, Jn 15:5). To be sure, His work through us can be "faked" as well as stifled. Our goal should be to nurture this grace of letting love flow by yielding to the Spirit when He gives us opportunities to work it out in fear and trembling. This explanation also helps understand why believers are not told to make it happen but to let it continue. It's like a faucet that is turned on - we are not the source of the water coming through the conduit and the spigot but we can cut off the flow or we can choose to allow it to continue to flow. So let love "flow" through you to the brethren. Because of our having been transferred from darkness to light and into a new kingdom when we are saved, we are naturally (really supernaturally) drawn toward fellowship with other believers who are also in the kingdom of light. And remember, "be nice" to your brethren, because we are going to spend a long, long time with them in eternity future! The deepest fellowship is not based on blood but on whether you are ''under the blood of Jesus'' and have a future and a hope to share.
Remember that many of the readers of this letter had most likely been rejected by their friends and families for having made a commitment to Jesus Christ as their Savior (cp Jesus' clear warning of the cost of discipleship, the cost of following Him - Mt 10:21, 22, 34, 35, 36, Mk 13:12, Lk 12:51, 52, 53, 21:16). But the deepest fellowship is not based on race or family ties (blood is not really "thicker than water" in the spiritual realm) but is based on the life we share in Christ.
Spurgeon - The word “continue” implies that “brotherly love” exists. There are many things that might put an end to it; so see to it that, as far as you are concerned, it continues. Under all provocations, and under all disappointments, “brotherly love must continue.” Let each esteem others better than himself; let each seek his brother’s good to edification. Let us by no means be divided in heart, for schisms grieve the Holy Spirit, destroy our comfort, weaken our graces, afford occasion for naysayers, and bring a thousand ills upon us. Whereas in these evil days the Church is so much divided into denominations and sections, follow peace with all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Hold what you believe with firmness, for you are not to trifle with God’s truth; but wherever you see anything of Christ, confess relationship there, and act as a brother toward your brother in Christ.
Brotherly love an evidence of one's regeneration "The obvious inquiry is: Do you love the people of God because they are the people of God? Because you discover in them the amiableness of that religion which is altogether lovely? Do you love them, not merely because they love you or have bestowed favors upon you; not because they are of your party, but because they bear the image of your heavenly Father? Do you love them for their love of God, their self-denial, their heavenliness, their usefulness in the world, their reproachless example, their faithfulness and love of duty? Do you love them when they reprove you, and when their example condemns you? And do you love them in proportion to the measure of these excellencies which they possess? Do you feel an interest in them and for them? Can you bear and forbear with them? Can you forget their infirmities, or do you rejoice to magnify them? Can you cast the mantle of charity over their sins and pray for them, and watch over them, and pity, and love them still? And can you feel thus and act thus toward the poorest and most despised of the flock and that because he is a Christian? If so, here is your encouragement “He that loves is born of God” (1Jn 4:7). (BROTHERLY LOVE Another evidence is love to the brethren)
Barclay- The very circumstances of the early Church sometimes threatened brotherly love. The very fact that they took their religion as seriously as they did was in one sense a danger. In a Church which is threatened from the outside and desperately in earnest in the inside, there are always two dangers. First, there is the danger of heresy-hunting. The very desire to keep the faith pure tends to make men eager to track down and eliminate the heretic and the man whose faith has gone astray. Second, there is the danger of stern and unsympathetic treatment of the man whose nerve and faith have failed. The very necessity of unswerving loyalty in the midst of a heathen and a hostile world tends to add rigorousness to the treatment of the man who in some crisis had not the courage to stand for his faith. It is a great thing to keep the faith clean; but when the desire to do so makes us censorious, harsh and unsympathetic, brotherly love is destroyed and we are left with a situation which may be worse than the one we tried to avoid. Somehow or other we have to combine two things--an earnestness in the faith and a kindness to the man who has strayed from it. (Hebrews 13 Commentary - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)
See multiple articles in Puritan writings that mention "brotherly love" sitewww.gracegems.org brotherly love - Google Search
Apology of Aristides The Philosopher (Written circa 125AD when Hadrian visited Athens - the translation below is from the Syriac versio) recorded the following observations concerning the first and second century followers of Christ…
Brotherly love among the early Christians: — A striking instance of the brotherly love of the early Christians transpired in the great plague that raged round Alexandria, during the reign of Gallienus. At the first appearance of the symptoms, the heathen drove the infected man from their sight; they tore themselves from their dearest connections; they threw their friends half-dead into the streets, and left their dead unburied. But, in contrast with this cruel selfishness, “the Christians, in the abundance of their brotherly love,” as their Bishop Dionysius says, “did not spare themselves, but mutually attending each other, they would visit the sick without fear, and ministering to each other for the sake of Christ, cheerfully gave up their lives with them. Many died after their care had restored others to health. Many, who took the bodies of their Christian brethren into their hands and bosoms, and closed their eyes, and buried them with every mark of attention, soon followed them in death.”
Illustration - Frightened by the clamor of thunder in the night, a little child cried out. Holding her securely in his arms, her father explained that she needn’t fear. God would take care of her because He loved her greatly. “I know God will take care of me and loves me,” she replied. “But right now, Daddy, I want someone with skin on to love me.” We are to be God’s love, with skin on, ministering to others.
John Owen writes on the preservation of brotherly love:
The Pulpit Commentary adds that the writer of Hebrews begins his charge to practice Christian virtues …
HOMILETICS Hebrews 13:1–6.—Personal exhortations.
William Gouge sums up the motives that should encourage us to pursue brotherly love…
Amplified: Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Amplified Bible - Lockman)
KJV: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
NIV: Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
NLT: Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
Phillips: nor refuse to extend your hospitality to strangers - sometimes men have entertained angels unawares. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: Let the brotherly affection continue. Of hospitality do not continue to be forgetful, for through this [namely, hospitality] some have shown hospitality to angels unawares. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: of the hospitality be not forgetful, for through this unawares certain did entertain messengers;
|DO NOT NEGLECT TO SHOW HOSPITALITY TO STRANGERS: tes philoxenias me epilanthanesthe: (2PPMM): (Do not neglect: Lev 19:34 De 10:18,19 1Ki 17:10-16 2Ki 4:8 Job 31:19,32 Isa 58:7 Mt 25:35,43 Ac 16:15 Ro 12:13 16:23 1Ti 3:2 5:10 Tit 1:8 1Pe 4:9)
Do not neglect to show hospitality - The Greek reads more literally "of the hospitality be not forgetful". NASB adds "to show" but this is not present in the Greek. NET Bible is more accurate "Do not neglect hospitality."
Spurgeon - Abraham did so, and Lot did so; they thought they were entertaining ordinary strangers, and they washed their feet; and prepared their food but it turned out that they had entertained angels. Some people will never entertain angels unawares, for they never entertain anybody. May we be given to hospitality, for that should be part of the character of saints.
God addressed hospitality in the Pentateuch (penta = 5 > The Torah = first five books of Bible), Moses recording that…
Job was a man who was "blameless, upright, fearing God, and turning away from evil" (Job 1:1) and thus it is not surprising that he gives us his example (to imitate) by practicing hospitality even before hospitality had been commanded by God (most authorities feel that Job pre-dates Moses)…
When Jesus returns in His glory (Mt 25:31, 32, cp Zech 14:5, Mt 24:30, 31, Mk 13:26, 27, Lk 21:27) as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev 1:7-note, Rev 19:11-note, Rev 19:16-note) to sit on His throne in Jerusalem (Isa 2:2, 3, 4-note) (Millennium or see Millennial Reign of Christ), He will have a time of judgment often referred to as the "judgment of the sheep and the goats" (Judgment of the Gentiles - "nations" in Mt 25:32 = ethnos - often translated "Gentiles" = Gentiles who survive the horrible time of the Great Tribulation). What is fascinating is that the main criteria on which He will judge the Gentiles is whether or not they have exhibited hospitality! Matthew records the somber scene, the King declaring…
In Acts after Lydia's heart was opened to receive the Word of Truth (The Gospel) implanted which was able to save her soul (Jas 1:21-note, Jas 1:18-note), one of the first responses from her new heart and new spirit (Ezek 36:26, Ezek 36:27 - explains "how" one can live supernaturally. Note that one of God's "ordinances" we are to obey is to show hospitality!) was to offer Paul and his companions hospitality!
Paul uses the related word in his description of qualities desirable in elders (overseers) and godly widows…
Do not neglect (1950)(epilanthanomai [word study] from epí = in or upon - intensifies meaning of following verb + lantháno = lie hidden or concealed) conveys 2 basic nuances in the NT, to forget (not recall information concerning something) or to neglect (give little attention to, to omit by carelessness or design). The epi- preposition intensifies the meaning as noted and thus the idea is not just forgetting but "completely forgetting."
Present imperative with a negative means to stop an attitude or action in progress. In other words stop (completely) forgetting to show affection to strangers because it is an "acceptable service in reverence and awe" (Heb 12:28).
Bengel - do not forget although you have been spoiled of your goods (eg Heb 10:34, 35). It is easy to forget such a duty… (Re: Angels) So an unknown guest is often more worthy than he appears, and has angels for his attendants, although they are not seen. Actions are estimated according to what a man does, not merely according to what he thinks he does. Mt 25:40, 45. (Hebrews 13 The Critical English Testament)
Olford comments that do not neglect or do not forget conveys the idea of thoughtfulness - This very idea of thoughtfulness is repeated in the next verse where the writer says, “Remember the prisoners” (Heb 13:3). It takes no mental effort to think of those who are near and dear to us. We have no problem in exercising the spirit of consideration toward those who are our friends and colleagues, but this does not constitute the essence of thoughtfulness. The regulation here commands us to “entertain strangers” and to “remember the prisoners” (Heb 13:2, 3). The test of thoughtfulness has to do with our interest and concern for those who are strangers to us—those suffering adversity. In a world that has lost the dimension of personal involvement in the concerns of others, how refreshing to find individuals who specialize in thoughtfulness toward others. God make us sensitive to the needs of people who require encouragement and love. May our daily prayer be:
Gromacki - Most people are naturally suspicious of strangers, especially those who knock on the front door of a private residence. Many houses are guarded by high fences, strong gates, watch dogs, and security systems. The doors have multiple locks on them. Such apprehension increases in the time of political and religious persecution. The Jewish-Roman tension doubtless created the background for the second command: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers.” The imperative (Present imperative with a negative) implies that the readers had stopped many acts of social benevolence. The author wanted them to resume and to maintain their hospitality. (Stand Bold in Grace An Exposition of Hebrews)
How does obey this command? Just as one is enabled to obey all God's commands -- A personal choice of our will which is enabled and empowered by grace (Heb 12:28), which is God's supernatural power to transforms naturally selfish individuals into to the supernaturally empowered giving individuals who think more of others than they do of themselves! Such transformed hearts begin to reach out to others who are not necessarily in the "select group." And to motivate this supernatural behavior the writer says you might even encounter an angel See similar OT teaching in Lev 19:34, Dt 10:18,19, Job 31:19,32, Isa 58:7.
Hospitality to strangers (5381) (philonexia - see philoxenos below) is literally love for strangers or foreigners and thus conveys the meaning of hospitality or kindness to strangers.
TDNT - Strangeness produces mutual tension between natives and foreigners, but hospitality overcomes the tension and makes of the alien a friend. Historically foreigners are primarily enemies or outlaws who should be killed. It is then found, however, that hospitality is a better way to deal with strangers, and they thus become the wards of law and religion.
The related word philoxenos (from philos = love, friend + xenos= stranger, one unknown, alien, guest) literally means "stranger loving" or a friend of strangers, showing them care and kindness. Practically philoxenos means fond of guests and so hospitable or given to (lover of) hospitality. It describes one who is given to a generous, welcoming and cordial reception of visitors, guests or strangers. It means to give practical help to anyone who is in need (friend or stranger, believer or unbeliever) Hospitality was a highly valued Greek and Jewish virtue. It was absolutely necessary for the expansion of the gospel and necessary for the maintenance of the fellowship within the church as well as the image of the church from without.
Guzik - The point is that we do this for other Christians who are strangers to us. If you invite your best friends over for lunch, that is wonderful - but it doesn’t fulfill this command. A wonderful way to fulfill this command is to meet and befriend strangers at church, and to entertain them with hospitality. The ancient Greek word for hospitality (used in passages like Romans 12:13) is literally translated, “love for strangers.” Brotherly love means love for all our brothers and sisters in Jesus, not just those who are currently our friends. (Hebrews 13 Commentary - David Guzik Commentary on the Bible)
Hospitable is from Medieval Latin hospitāre = to receive as a guest which in turn is from Latin hospes = guest.
The hospitable man gives practical help to anyone who is in need, friend or stranger, believer or unbeliever, freely offers his time, his resources, and his encouragement to meet the needs of others.
Jesus spoke on hospitality, saying to "the one who had invited Him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (Lk 14:12, 13, 14)
In Romans Paul wrote that believers should be "contributing to the needs of the saints, (present tense = continually) practicing (literally "pursuing") hospitality. (Ro 12:13-note)
Peter links loving one another with showing hospitality - "Above all, keep fervent (ektenes = pictures one stretching himself out, straining intensely!) in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint (goggusmos = murmuring, grumbling) . (1Pe 4:8, 9-note) Amplified translates it "Practice hospitality to one another (those of the household of faith). [Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Christ’s body.] And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly (cordially and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him)."
Olford is right to remind us that "it requires no great exercise of love to show ourselves friendly to those we like, but it does call upon all the grace of God within us to go out of our way to show compassion to those who are complete strangers to us. Yet this is the essence of hospitality. Study the New Testament, observing the emphasis that the Holy Spirit puts upon Christian hospitality; then measure how far you have gone in the exercise of this holy duty. Rather disconcerting, isn’t it?… In biblical times this involved washing the feet of guests, anointing their head with oil, giving them a change of clothing, and providing food and sleeping accommodations. Whether or not there was a gratuity for this or it was provided free of charge, all hospitality was judged by the measure in which these services were effectively rendered. (Institutes of Biblical preaching: Volume Seven)
Wuest says that philoxenos describes "one who is fond of offering hospitality. But the hospitality referred to here is not of the kind which says, “Come over for dinner and let us have a good time. Some day you will return the favor and I will enjoy your hospitality.” The hospitality spoken of here found its occasion in the fact that in the days of the great Roman persecutions, Christians were banished and persecuted, and rendered homeless. Or, in the case of traveling preachers and teachers, ministering from church to church, these servants of God were to be received and cared for by the bishop. Or, because in the early centuries, the local churches had no church edifice in which to worship, the church met in the home of an individual. The bishop should be glad to thus open his home for this purpose."
The New Manners and Customs of Bible Times - In New Testament times, refusal to give hospitality amounted to rejection (Mt 10:14), and it was therefore essential for Christians to give hospitality (Gal 6:10; 1Pe 4:9). Although such a practice gave moral protection in view of the character of many inns (see p. 234) and in view of the fact that many Christians had to leave their own homes because of persecution, it was more than this: “hospitality” is philoxenia, a “love for others.” It was particularly important for preachers of the time who had given up their livelihood so that they could preach the gospel (3Jn 1:5, 6, 7, 8). They were to be given hospitality for several days, and then encouraged to move on to another place (e.g. Acts 9:43; 16:15; Ro 16:2). One could not be recognized as a leader in the church unless one was hospitable (1Ti 3:2; Titus 1:8). (Gower, R., & Wright, F. The new manners and customs of Bible times. Chicago: Moody Press)
Barclay explains that "The ancient world loved and honoured hospitality. The Jews had a saying: "There are six things the fruit of which a man eats in this world and by which his horn is raised in the world to come." And the list begins: "Hospitality to the stranger and visiting the sick." The Greeks gave Zeus, as one of his favourite titles, the title Zeus Xenios, which means Zeus, the god of strangers. The wayfaring man and the stranger were under the protection of the king of the gods. Hospitality, as Moffatt says, was an article of ancient religion. Inns were filthy, ruinously expensive, and of low repute. The Greek had always a shrinking from hospitality given for money; inn-keeping seemed to him an unnatural affair. In The Frogs of Aristophanes, Dionysus asks Heracles, when they are discussing finding a lodging, if he knows where there are fewest fleas. Plato in The Laws speaks of the inn-keeper holding travellers to ransom. It is not without significance that Josephus says that Rahab, the harlot who harboured Joshua's scouts in Jericho, kept an inn. When Theophrastus wrote his character sketch of the reckless man, he said that he was fit to keep an inn or run a brothel; he put both occupations on the same level. In the ancient world there was a rather wonderful system of what were called "guest friendships." Throughout the years families, even when they had lost active touch with each other, had an arrangement that at any time needful they would make accommodation available for each other. This hospitality was even more necessary in the circle of the Christians. Slaves had no home of their own to which to go. Wandering preachers and prophets were always on the roads. On the ordinary business of life, Christians had journeys to make. Both their price and their moral atmosphere made the public inns impossible. There must in those days have been many isolated Christians fighting a lonely battle. Christianity was, and still should be, the religion of the open door. The writer to the Hebrews says that those who have given hospitality to strangers have sometimes, all unaware, entertained the angels of God. He is thinking of the time when the angel came to Abraham and Sarah to tell them of the coming of a son (Genesis 18:1 ff.) and of the day when the angel came to Manoah to tell him that he would have a son (Jdg 13:3 ff.). in the ancient world there were always many who were on the move. Inns were notoriously expensive, dirty and immoral; and it was essential that the wayfaring Christian should find an open door within the Christian community. To this day no one needs Christian fellowship more than the stranger in a strange place." Hospitality was essential in NT times because of absence of hotels or motels and the fact that the inns were notoriously evil, often in fact functioning as brothels and as places where travelers were robbed or beaten. (Barclay describes the ancient inn as) notoriously bad. In one of Aristophane’s plays Heracles asks his companion where they will lodge for the night; and the answer is: “Where the fleas are fewest.” Plato speaks of the innkeeper being like a pirate who holds his guests to ransom. Inns tended to be dirty and expensive and, above all, immoral. (Hebrews 13 Commentary - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)
Our high tech world leads to low touch with other people, which in turn leads to the rise in a sense of loneliness. If you are lonely then let this passage guide you to look for someone in need of help and you will alleviate the loneliness for both of you!
If you are feeling all alone,
Many people are lonely
because they build walls instead of bridges.
Stephen Olford - The idea of hospitality is one that finds its source in the very heart of God. Indeed, heaven is described as the Father’s house with many abiding places. The purpose of God, from eternity past, has been to make the world a place of hospitality and friendliness. The Bible has much to say about hospitality. From the earliest records we have we read of God’s laws concerning hospitality to strangers and the poor (see Lev. 19:33–34; Deut. 15:7). People like Abraham, Lot, Reuel, and Manoah were given to hospitality; and Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, who had compassion on an injured traveler, took him to a local inn, and paid for his care (see Luke 10:2-5,37). The Epistles command us to show hospitality; indeed, it is a qualification for leadership (see Ro 12:13; 1Ti 5:10; Titus 1:8; 1Pe 4:9).“Let brotherly love continue” (Heb 13:1). Hospitality that does not find its motivation from the love of God may be commercial, but it is certainly not Christian.
Marcus Dods - In the general decay of their faith tendencies to disown Christian fellowship had become apparent, Hebrews 10:24-25. This might also lead to a failure to recognise the wants of Christians coming from a distance, therefore hospitality is urged; not as a duty they did not already practice, but, gently, as that which they might omit through forgetfulness and as that which might bring them a message from God: “Entertainment of strangers do not neglect; for thus some have entertained angels unawares,” as in Genesis 18-19; Judges 6:11-24; Judges 13:2-23 (Hebrews 13 Commentary - The Expositor's Greek Testament)
Guzik - Hospitality is an important virtue, and often it is commanded of Christians and leaders (Romans 12:10-13; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:7-8; 1 Peter 4:9). In the ancient world, “motels,” where they did exist, were notorious for immorality. It was important for traveling Christians to find open homes from other Christians. This was simply a practical way to let brotherly love continue. Because of the free offer of hospitality, Christians had to watch out for people just masquerading as Christians so they could leech off the generosity of God’s people. As time went on, Christian leaders taught their people how to recognize these kind of deceivers. The Didache was an early church “ministry manual,” written perhaps somewhere between 90 and 110 A.D. It has this to say about how to tell if a false prophet is abusing the hospitality of those in the church: Let every apostle that comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain except one day; but if there be need, also the next; but if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread … but if he asks for money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet that speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this one sin shall not be forgiven. But not everyone that speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds the ways of the Lord. Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the true prophet be known. (From The Ante-Nicean Fathers, Volume 7, page 380). (Hebrews 13 Commentary - David Guzik Commentary on the Bible)
FOR BY THIS SOME HAVE ENTERTAINED ANGELS WITHOUT KNOWING IT: dia tautes gar elathon (AAI) tines xenisantes (AAPMPN) aggelous: (some have entertained angels: Ge 18:2-10 19:1, 2, 3 Jdg 13:15-25 Mt 25:40)
For by this (See term of explanation) explains why they should not forget to show hospitality to strangers and also serves as a motivation to do so.
Alford - Bleek remarks that the notices found in the writings of the enemies of Christianity show how much this virtue was practised among the early believers
Entertained (3579) (xenizo from xenos = a stranger, foreigner) means to receive as a guest, to demonstrate hospitality and so to lodge or to entertain ("play the host" Sirach 29:25). To lodge with or be entertained by (Acts 10:6). When used intransitively, xenizo refers to something strange and so means to astonish (Acts 17:20) or to be surprised by the strangeness and novelty of something (1Pe 4:12, 2Macc 9:6).
Xenizo - 10x in 10v in NAS - Acts 10:6, 18, 23, 32; 17:20; 21:16; 28:7; Heb 13:2; 1Pe 4:4-note, 1Pe 4:12-note. NAS = entertained (2), gave… lodging (1), lodge (1), staying (3), strange things (1), surprised (2).
Once in non-apocryphal Septuagint - Esther 3:13.
Angels (32) (aggelos) is strictly speaking one who brings a message, a messenger. A person who makes an announcement (of a prophet = Hag 1:13, of a priest = Mal 2:7, of John the Baptist = Mt 11:10, Mk 1:2, Lk 7:27). Aggelos is a supernatural entity that attends upon or serves as a messenger of God (Mt 1:20; 2:13, 19; Lk 1:11; 2:9; Ac 5:19; 12:7, 23). In Ex 23:20 in context aggelos is most likely a reference to the Angel of the LORD.
See related resources:
Thayer notes that in regard to the supernatural messenger, in both testaments aggelos speaks of "one of that host of heavenly spirits that, according alike to Jewish and Christian opinion, wait upon the monarch of the universe, and are sent by him to earth, now to execute his purposes (Mt. 4:6, 11; 28:2; Mk. 1:13; Lk. 16:22; 22:43 [L br. WH reject the pass.]; Acts 7:35; 12:23; Gal. 3:19, cf. Heb. 1:14), now to make them known to men (Lk 1:11, 26, 2:9; Acts 10:3; 27:23; Mt. 1:20; 2:13; 28:5; Jn. 20:12); hence the frequent expressions (angel, messenger of Godְ)
Aggelos - 175x in 171v in NAS - In the Gospels - Mt 1:20, 24; 2:13, 19; 4:6, 11; 11:10; 13:39, 41, 49; 16:27; 18:10; 22:30; 24:31, 36; 25:31, 41; 26:53; 28:2, 5; Mk 1:2, 13; 8:38; 12:25; 13:27, 32; Lk 1:11, 13, 18f, 26, 30, 34 35, 38; 2:9, 10, 13, 15, 21; 4:10; 7:24, 27; 9:26, 52; 12:8, 9; 15:10; 16:22; 22:43; 24:23; Jn 1:51; 12:29; 20:12; Acts 5:19; 6:15; 7:30, 35, 38, 53; 8:26; 10:3, 7, 22; 11:13; 12:7, 8, 9, 15, 23; 23:8 9; 27:23; Ro 8:38; 1Co 4:9; 6:3; 11:10; 13:1; 2Co 11:14; 12:7; Gal 1:8; 3:19; 4:14; Col 2:18; 2Th 1:7; 1Ti 3:16; 5:21; Heb 1:4, 5, 6, 7, 13; 2:2, 5, 7, 9, 16; 12:22; 13:2; Jas 2:25; 1Pe 1:12; 3:22; 2Pe 2:4, 11; Jude 1:6; Rev 1:1, 20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 5, 7, 14; 5:2, 11; 7:1, 2, 11; 8:2, 3, 4, 8, 10, 12, 13; 9:1, 11, 13, 14, 15; 10:1, 5, 7, 8, 9; 11:15; 12:7, 9; 14:6, 8, 9, 10, 15, 17, 18, 19; 15:1, 6, 7, 8; 16:1, 5; 17:1, 7; 18:1, 21; 19:17; 20:1; 21:9, 12, 17; 22:6, 8, 16. NAS = angel(86), angel's(2), angelic(1), angels(80), messenger(4), messengers(3).
Spurgeon - Abraham did so, and Lot did so. They thought they were entertaining ordinary strangers, and they washed their feet, and prepared their food, but it turned out that they had entertained angels. Some people will never entertain angels unaware, for they never entertain anybody. May we be given to hospitality, for that should be part of the character of saints.
Without knowing (2990) (lanthano) means to escape notice (Mk 7:24, Lk 8:47, Lev 4:13; 5:3.4:15; Nm 5,13), to not know, to be unaware, to be ignorant of (Heb 13:2), to fail to remain aware of something (2Pe 3:5)
Vine notes that "lanthano, “to escape notice,” is used with the aorist participle of xenizo, “to entertain,” signifying “entertained…unawares” (an idiomatic usage common in classical Greek).
NET Bible - This is a vague allusion to people described in scripture and extra-biblical literature and may include Abraham and Sarah (Ge 18:2-15), Lot (Ge 19:1-14), Gideon (Jdg 6:11-18), Manoah (Jdg 13:3-22), and possibly Tobit (Tobit 12:1-20). (Hebrews 13 Notes)
This verse brings to mind the angels who ate with Abraham and later with Lot (Ge 18:2; 19:1-3).
In the OT we see that not only might one entertain angels but one might entertain a prophet of God…
The early church met in homes, ministers traveled (3Jn 1:5, 6, 7, 8), persecutions drove many believers from homes (Hebrews 10:34 "accepted joyfully the seizure of your property"), they were poor and could not afford inns. Hospitality was a highly valued Greek and Jewish virtue. It was absolutely necessary for the expansion of the gospel and necessary for the maintenance of the fellowship within the church as well as the image of the church from without.
To this day no one needs Christian fellowship more than the stranger in a strange place.
A person who is hospitable gives practical help to anyone who is in need, friend or stranger, believer or unbeliever. He freely offers his time, his resources, and his encouragement to meet the needs of others. Jesus elevated hospitality in (Lk 14:12,13,14). The Lord was not, of course, saying that we are never to invite friends and relatives over for a meal. He was pointing out that the true test of godly, self-giving hospitality is not what we do for those that we like to be around or who are likely to repay us in some way, but is what we do for others solely out of sincere concern for their welfare.
We may not entertain angels in a literal sense (though it is possible) but any stranger could turn out to be God's messenger for the Greek word “angel” simply means “messenger.” Indeed, most believers have had guests (eg, missionaries on furlough, Bible speakers from out of town) in our home who have turned out to be messengers of unspeakable blessings to our family.
Illustration - Gordon M. Ferguson tells of meeting a Filipino Methodist bishop on a European-bound ship. The bishop told of his experience when he came to North America as a student years before. The first Sunday his roommate appeared in the doorway, an umbrella under each arm. He offered to show him the way to his place of worship and then planned to go on to his own church. As they started down the street he thought, “If this man has this kind of faith and interest in my spiritual life, surely I should find out what his faith is like.” He asked his friend to take him to his church and he attended it all four years. As a result he entered Drew Theological Seminary, and years later became a bishop in the Methodist church. (Sermons Illustrated)
In hospitality these things are required:
A genius for kindness: — “There is a man,” said his neighbor, speaking of a village carpenter, “who has done more good, I really believe, in this community than any other person who ever lived in it. He cannot talk very well in prayer-meetings, and he doesn’t very often try. He isn’t worth two thousand dollars, and it’s very little that he can put down on subscription papers for any good object. But a new family never moves into the village that he does not find them out, to give them a neighborly welcome and offer any little service he can render. He is usually on the lookout to give strangers a seat in his pew at church. He is always ready to watch with a sick neighbor, and look after his affairs for him; and I’ve sometimes thought he and his wife keep house plants in winter just for the sake of being able to send little bouquets to invalids. He finds time for a pleasant word for every child he meets, and you’ll always see them climbing into his one-horse wagon when he has no other load. He really seems to have a genius for helping folks in all sorts of common ways, and it does me good every day just to meet him on the streets.” (Baxendale’s Anecdotes.)
SPARE BEDS - In 2004, Casey Fenton co-founded a nonprofit service that helps travelers find a “friendlier alternative” to unfriendly hotels. They find homeowners who are willing to offer their spare beds and couches to others.
Lord, grant me a loving heart,
THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS - While I was taking a flight to Surabaya, Indonesia, for a Bible conference, the flight attendants brought meal service. I had just eaten in the Singapore airport, so I declined, asking only for a soft drink. The Indonesian man next to me, a stranger, was visibly concerned.
Try to bring God’s love and kindness
THE HOSPITALITY MANGER - Victoria’s family refers to her as the “hospitality manager” of their home. She lives in Singapore with her daughter and son-in-law. He is the RBC Ministries international director, and they often have visitors. Victoria stays busy as a volunteer in the RBC office on that island nation, but her primary ministry is the gift of caring and hospitality. She makes their visitors feel welcome, loved, and cared for in their home.
My heart is filled, dear Lord, with love,
GOD'S LOVE ON A PLATE - During His life on earth, Jesus chose to identify with poor and destitute people. He lived as one who had no place to call home (Mt. 8:20), and His ministry was marked by compassion for the needy.
Love is giving for the world's needs,
THE BEST ROOM - During a January research trip to Germany, I was dismayed to learn that we would be staying at a monastery. I pictured an austere place with no heat, cold stone floors, and hard beds. Instead, I found a warm, welcoming, comfortable room. My colleague said, “The monks believe in treating their guests as they would treat Christ.” Though they don’t live in such comfort themselves, they are content.
Robert Herrick, a 17th-century English poet, wrote:
Christ, He requires still, wheresoe’er He comes,
It may seem easier to welcome Christ into our heart than to open our life to others. Whether it’s a room in our home or time in our schedule, too often we treat people as intruders rather than guests.
The apostle Peter wrote: “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’ Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Peter 4:8-9).
We honor Christ by giving Him the best room, our hearts, and by offering willing hospitality to others. — by David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)
I am Yours, Lord, yet teach me all it means,
WHO'S ON MY GUEST LIST? - I love hosting festive dinners. Sometimes I’ll say: “Tonia, we haven’t had anyone over for dinner in a while. Who do you think we should invite?” We go through our proposed guest list and suggest friends we have never invited or have not invited in a while. And it seems like this list is normally comprised of people who look and sound and live like we do, and who can reciprocate. But if we were to ask Jesus whom we should have over for dinner, He would give us a totally different guest list.
The poor and needy everywhere