“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Explanation and Commentary of Hebrews 13:2
In a day and age where so much is done in order to get something, to manipulate and control others (perhaps any age in this fallen world), God would call us to show hospitality to strangers, just for the sake of showing hospitality and loving people for God’s sake.
In this way, says the author, some have entertained angels. For certain, Abraham did show hospitality to angels in Genesis 18, and then the same were entertained by Lot. How unaware they were about their guests is debatable. A few scholars have put forth the idea that the Greek for “angel” is here misinterpreted and should read, “messengers.” That way those being entertained might be preachers, rather than angels. But most scholarship favors the former.
Either way, the application is the same. Love others (Heb 13:1) by showing hospitality, even to strangers. Seek to show God’s love whenever possible, especially in the exercise of hospitality.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Hebrews 13:2
#1 “Do not forget to show hospitality…”
The act of hospitality was an important part of ancient society. Travel could be treacherous, and being welcomed by a local citizen was insurance toward mishaps that were possible on the road. Just as it is easy today to look the other way when someone is in need of welcome and provision, Christians of the first century were prone to forget their duty. Hospitality is a particularly godly trait and it is required that elders in the local church to be proven to have been hospitable.
#2 “…to strangers,”
Some people love to show off their home and their cooking to their friends and family. They are sociable and like to entertain. Some of these very same people are hesitant to show the same care for strangers. What could they get in return? What will it cost them? This requires trusting God to provide what is needed, and a willingness to show hospitality out of the love of Christ, with no regard for repayment (Lk 14:14).
#3 “for by so doing, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
Whether it is an angel, or simply, “the least of these” (Mt 25:40), there is reason enough to be hospitable just by the fact that we are commanded to be by Christ. His “Father’s house has many rooms” (Jn 14:2-3), and a place for us in one of them. When we are hospitable, we are like our Father in Heaven.
Bible Study on Hebrews 13:2
Expert Overview of Hebrews
Biblical Translations of Hebrews 13:2
Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.