Hebrews 13:2
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.
A Genius for KindnessBaxendale's AnecdotesHebrews 13:2
A Gracious Disposition Unexpectedly RewardedJohn. Owen, D. D.Hebrews 13:2
Angel VisitsH. Melvill, B. D.Hebrews 13:2
Angels as StrangersH. J. Bevis.Hebrews 13:2
Entertaining a Prince UnawaresWestern TimesHebrews 13:2
Entertaining StrangersH. J. Boris.Hebrews 13:2
HospitalityW. Jones, D. D.Hebrews 13:2
HospitalityD. Young Hebrews 13:2
Hospitality RewardedNew Cyclopedia of IllustrationsHebrews 13:2
Kindness to StrangerD. S. Patterson.Hebrews 13:2
Strangers May be AngelsHomilistHebrews 13:2
Brotherly LoveW. Jones Hebrews 13:1-3

Note the connection of vers. 1 and 2. First φιλαδελφία is enjoined, then φιλοξενία. The stranger as well as the brother must have a proper place in our consideration. Brotherliness must not lead to exclusiveness. We must go by the golden rule. If we came to a strange place at nightfall, footsore with a long day's walking, we should be very grateful to any who would open the door and give us shelter and food. The injunction to hospitality very needful in times when facilities of travel were not what they are now. Hospitable feelings are strong in many who have not yet attained to Christian virtues; let the Christian, then, be in no way behind. He will be prudent and cautious in his treatment of strangers, he will be wise as the serpent; but he will remember, too, that he is under the protection of God. Now and then he will be deceived and robbed, but this is a little matter compared with the maintenance of hospitable duties. It may seem at first as if a low motive for hospitality were here introduced; but if it be considered, we shall see that it is not so much a motive to hospitality as to unremitting watchfulness in hospitality. Let the stranger be ever in your mind. Let not one slip past your gates, or go away knocking in vain. What will it avail to admit a thousand who bring you nothing but their needs, if you let the one go who will bring you blessings far more than anything you can do for him? - Y.

Entertain strangers.
The text derives much of its importance from the times in which it was written. They were perilous times for Christians. The disciples of Christ had often to flee to strange cities, and in entertaining some stranger, a man might find he had entertained a Christian, or had given shelter and food to a messenger or angel of the Church, and he would be more than repaid by the discourse and benediction of the wayfarer.

I. SMALL DUTIES ARE OFTEN ENFORCED BY GREAT PROMISES. Small duties, like small mercies, are often overlooked. God has scattered His gifts over life's pathway, we mistake them for wild flowers or mere weeds; but they yield fragrance when pressed by our worn and weary feet. Life is made up, to a great extent, of small things, — they give symmetry and beauty to character, and make up the proportions of life; they are necessary to the order of the family and the harmony of the home; their absence would soon be detected in the irregular movements of the simple machinery, or in the note of dissonance which would mar the music of life. There are numerous instances in the past, in which pity to the oppressed and the captive, kindness to the stranger, and charity to man, were enforced by great promises; by the promise oftentimes of "living long in the land which the Lord their God had given them." And so in the text men are to entertain strangers because some "have entertained angels unawares."

II. OUR MINISTRATIONS MAY BE AS IMPORTANT FOR OUR SAKE AS FOR THE SAKE OF THOSE TO WHOM THEY ARE RENDERED. We get, in one sense, as much good by giving, as we confer on those who receive our gifts. We are to be merciful, that thus we may imitate God. Hospitality is of importance, because it involves a genial nature, — a large, loving heart, consideration and care for man. A man who is not a lover of hospitality is in danger of living to himself, shutting up life within himself, being separate and divided from his fellows. Man is a social being, and he who would have friends "must show himself friendly." Apparently incidental circumstances often lead to great and unexpected results. An introduction to a stranger — an act of courtesty — a few passing words, have led to results which have influenced all the future. Men have only thought of entertaining a stranger, and they have entertained an angel. We are to do life's duties; we are to be generous and hospitable if no angel ever enters our tent; we are to entertain strangers, though they may never turn out to be angels.

III. THE PRECEPT ENJOINS ON US BENEVOLENCE AND LARGENESS OF HEART. Men are too much accustomed to live with men of their own class, with men who read the same books, think the same thoughts, and live the same kind of life; they do not know men out of their circle, they do not receive the benefit which results from freshness of thought, and interchange of sentiment, and deeper and warmer feeling.

(H. J. Boris.)

In hospitality these things are required:

1. That we do it frequently. One swallow makes not a spring. The receiving of a stranger once makes not a hospitable man. We must make a daily use and occupation of it. It was the continual practice of Lot and Abraham, as may appear by their behaviour.

2. It must be willingly. We must not tarry till strangers offer themselves. We must pull them in, as Abraham and Lot did. We must constrain them, as Lydia did St. Paul and Silas.

3. Cheerfully without grudging (1 Peter 4:9), we must not repine at it, speak hardly of them when they be gone.

4. Meekly; not receive them after a stately and lord-like manner; but after a meek manner, as if we were rather beholden to them, than they to us. They be the brethren of Christ, the sons of God; we are not worthy of such guests.

5. Abundantly; according to that ability wherewith God hath blessed us. If we have but a little, let them have a little, as the widow of Sarepta dealt with Elias. If we have a great portion of God's blessings, let them taste of them.

6. We must do it perseveringly: be not weary of well doing. Hospitality is a good thing, be not weary of it. Let thy house be open to good men all the days of thy life. But alas, this is a hard doctrine, who can abide it; we are too much wedded to the world: yea, they that make a great show of Christianity, are ready to say with Nabal," Shall I take my bread and my water, and my flesh, and give it unto men whom I know not whence they be? "Oh forget not this duty. Here he means such strangers especially as are compelled to forsake their country for the gospel's sake; but it is to be extended to all.It is an excellent duty, and we have many spurs to prick us to it.

1. God requires it (Isaiah 58:7).

2. We have many ensamples for it.

3. We ourselves may be strangers, therefore do as ye would be done to.

4. The want of it hath been grievously punished, it was the overthrow of the whole tribe (Judges 20.).

5. In receiving men that are strangers, we may receive angels. Preachers which be God's angels, nay, Christ Himself (Matthew 25:6).

6. It is gainful for this life, and that which is to come.

(W. Jones, D. D.)

I. ESPECIAL SEASONS ARE DIRECTIONS, AND CONSTRAINING MOTIVES UNTO ESPECIAL DUTIES. And he who on such occasions will forget to receive strangers, will not long remember to retain anything of Christian religion.

II. OUR HEARTS ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED UNTO IN OCCASIONAL DUTIES, IF WE PRESERVE THEM NOT IN A CONTINUAL DISPOSITION TOWARDS THEM. If that be lost, no arguments will be prevalent to engage them unto present occasions.





(John. Owen, D. D.)

Even in later ages of the Church, there have been fine exemplifications, personal and public, of kindness to Christian strangers. Some of the most remarkable of these belong to the age of the Reformation. The heart warms towards Frankfort and Geneva, in the memory of the hospitable shelter which those venerable cities gave at that eventful epoch, to so many of our English and Scottish exiles. And not a few evangelical Protestants on the Continent of Europe now delight to extend their humble hospitality to British Christians whom an interest in "the common faith," or even a less sacred motive, may have carried to their shores.

(D. S. Patterson.)

Baxendale's Anecdotes.
"There is a man," said his neighbour, 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 neighbourly 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 neighbour, 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 waggon 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.)

Entertained angels unawares.
I. Strange PERSONS may often turn out to be "angels."

1. It may be so with the "stranger" who enters our household.

2. It may be so with the "stranger" in our neighbourhood.

3. It may be so with the "stranger" in our church.

4. It may be so with the "stranger" in our country. Treat all men with generousness and goodwill, and you may perhaps find angelic things within them.

II. Strange THINGS may often turn out to be "angels."

1. A "strange" truth may turn out to be an "angel," solving difficulties, enfranchising the intellect, and making the horizon of the soul beam brightly with unearthly stars.

2. A "strange" trial may turn out to be an "angel." Adversity, disease, bereavement, may prove blessings in disguise.

3. A "strange" charity may turn out to be an "angel." "It is more blessed to give than to receive."


There is no reason for thinking that under the Christian dispensation angelic beings ever assume a visible form, though we have nevertheless the comforting assurance that they are all "ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that shall be the heirs of salvation." But the visit might be like that of an angel, inasmuch as the visitor might bring rich intelligence as to the glorious things of the invisible world. What is there to prevent God from enabling one of our fellow-men to discourse to us so exquisitely on the deep things of our faith and the beautiful and harmonious things of heaven, that the effect shall be literally the same as though He had commissioned a cherub or a seraph to take human form and speak in human speech? We will give you as nearly as we may the scene which was likely to occur in the early days of the Church, and which, with due allowance made for change in circumstances, might occur in our own. We suppose a Christian family gathered round their fireside in times when the profession of Christianity exposed to persecution. They are themselves almost dreading the coming of the inquisitor, and they are startled by that knock at their door, fancying that it may proceed from some minister of cruelty; but there is only an aged wanderer who solicits admission, and the storm pleads for him as eloquently as his grey hairs. Shall he be refused?" It is not unlikely that he is some poor victim whom the dogs of persecution are hunting down. If we admit him, he may be tracked to this house, and then, without being able to shield him, we shall be ruined ourselves." But the master of that house is too staunch a character to be deterred from duty by the fear of consequences. Simply reminding his family of the precept — "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers," he opens his door, and bids the old man welcome in the name of the Lord; and the stranger, whilst partaking the proffered hospitality, enters into conversation, and, finding that they are Christians who have so kindly received him, seeks to recompense the kindness by discoursing on Christianity, and he pours forth all the treasures of his experience, and enlarges on the mysteries of redemption. He is one who has thought deeply and felt deeply; and as he dilates on the love of God in sending His own dear Son, and explains the blessed and marvellous manner in which the provisions of the gospel meet the wants of fallen creatures, or speaks thrillingly of "the exceeding and eternal weight of glory," for which the trials of life are only a preparation, every eye is fast rivetted upon him, and his voice falls on every ear as some unearthly sound; but most sweet and most musical in its unearthliness. Is there any reason whatsoever why this might not occur, why it might not happen in any age of the Church, though more likely when persecution had caused the excellent of the earth, like the Master whom they served, to have not where to lay the head? And when the old man, wearied by his own high stretchings into mysteries and glories, had sunk to repose, would not the amazed and delighted family say, one to another, as the disciples who had journeyed to Emmaus, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures? "Would not their feeling be as though they had received into their circle the inhabitant of a better world, known, not indeed by the wing of light and the eye of fire; but by wisdom drawn from gazing upon God; and would they not exclaim, "Oh! well hath the apostle followed up his precept, 'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers,' by saying, 'for thereby some have entertained angels unawares'"?

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

We often mistake the dispensations of God's providence. They come to us as angels veiled in sadness, or in strange forms; we think they are enemies, and wrestle with them; in the darkness, the struggle goes on, — we want our way, it is not till they touch us and teach us their Divine character; it is not till the day begins to break, that we find we are in the presence of God's messengers. We learn that we have wrestled with an angel, and then we seek to detain him, and earnestly ask for a blessing. Sorrow comes unbidden, unwelcomed; it takes its place at our fireside, sits at our table; its presence casts a shadow on us; but when we allow it to commune with us, when it touches us, our life seems changed, our thoughts and affections are transfigured. Death comes over our threshold, into our home; and life is never more the same. It reads us some lesson out of the black-letter book of God's providence. The lesson we bear in tears, but we never more forget it. "We confess that we are strangers and sojourners here." We begin to think of leaving this tent. "We declare plainly that we seek a better country." Death, so dreaded by us, acts in his ministrations only as an angel, who takes our loved ones into the everlasting home of the heavens.

(H. J. Bevis.)

New Cyclopedia of Illustrations.
Jupiter and Mercury once visited a village, and, disguised in human form, sought entertainment, but in vain, till they came to the thatched cottage of the aged Baucis and Philemon. Before the strangers was spread the best the place afforded, with careful attention. The unwasted wine revealed to them the gods to whom they would have sacrificed. "This inhospitable village shall pay the penalty of its impiety. You shall be free. Come with us to the top of yonder hill," said the gods. They obeyed, and beheld the country around sink into a lake, while their own house grew into a magnificent temple, in which they served as priests until transformed together.

(New Cyclopedia of Illustrations.)

Western Times.
During the Prince of Wales's stay at Torquay he has walked or driven to many of the numerous points of beauty or interest with which the coast abounds. It is related that on Friday the Prince landed at Babbicombe Bay, and after exploring its charms, in company with Captain Stephcnson and Lord Hastings, the trio betook themselves to an adjacent tea garden, and ordered refreshment. The establishment, however, is chiefly frequented by visitors who bring their own provisions, and was unprovided with any but very homely fare. A lady who was taking tea with friends in an adjoining arbour, overheard the colloquy to which the request gave rise, and courteously placed at the disposal of the gentlemen a portion of her provisions, including, of course, Devonshire cream, tea and cakes. The offer was accepted, and, the lady's creature comforts having been freely partaken of, the recipients, the Prince especially, were warm in their acknowledgments of this display of courtesy to strangers. It was not until after they had departed that the lady became aware that she had entertained a prince unawares.

(Western Times.)

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