Hospitality (Saving faith in Action)
KJV Heb 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
KJV, Heb 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
ESV, Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Much of the book of Hebrews is telling us about the supremacy of the New Covenant. By reading this book the writer is imparting to the reader, knowledge of what the New Covenant is. That the Lord Jesus Christ as perfect and superior in comparison to anything Judaism and the old covenant had to offer.
In this final chapter, the writer is giving us an insight as to how we can apply this knowledge in a practical way.
Knowledge is good to have but knowledge without wisdom is simply that, knowledge.
Here we are introduced to wisdom, which is the application of knowledge.
The first verse puts this into context.
Heb 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
What is brotherly love?
In a scriptural context, what this means is an active, selfless care of the brethren and others.
It is saving faith in action. It is James was talking about, James 2:17“Faith without works is dead” .
Jas 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
We all can have faith, but faith in what? Faith in a parent to look after us, faith in a chair, that it will not collapse when we sit on it?
When we talk about faith in action in the Biblical sense, we are talking about saving faith, faith that trusts God for our salvation in Christ.
If we say that we have this faith, then this faith will show itself in works.
James refers to Abraham, James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?
This does not mean that Abraham was made righteous through works but that he showed he had faith by his works.
Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
What the writer of Hebrews is telling here is that our faith in Christ should produce that, which only true faith can produce.
We have many references in scripture to this fact.
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
1Jn 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
Whist in the first instance, these verses seem to relate to how we as believers ought to be with the brethren, our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Yet we know from scripture that we ought to act in a loving way to those who are not brethren in Christ as well, even to our enemies.
Rom 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Rom 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Rom 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Rom 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
This was taught by the Lord Jesus Christ who said:
Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. ~Mat 25:37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
Mat 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Mat 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Mat 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
Mat 25:42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
Mat 25:43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Mat 25:44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Mat 25:45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
Mat 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
This Hebrew passage deals with the very same thing. The brethren, Heb 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
Also, Strangers and those in prison Heb 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
It is interesting to note the words that are used in this passage.
Who are to be the recipients of this kind attention, this hospitality?
Heb 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
The word for “brotherly love” is Greek – Philadelphia. (The Greek word philo refers to love for a friend or to having a special interest in someone and adelphia is related to the words for brother and sister.)
On the other hand,
Heb 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: Greek - Philoxenias, refers to friendship or special attention shown by hospitality (the Greek word xenos meant “stranger,” and the word xenia normally referred to hospitality).
So, we can grasp the idea that we are supposed as Christians to show our faith by our actions, to live in such a way that we emulate our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
He is our perfect example of how we should treat the brethren and those in the world.
What is meant by the phrases “for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”?
The word used here for angels is Greek aggelos, meaning messenger. Is this referring to an angel of God or a messenger of the Gospel?
We read in the Gospel of Luke:
Luk 7:24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
We also see that the spies sent to spy out the city of Jericho were just ordinary men. In Jas 2:25, the record of this says: Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
The word used for “the messengers” here is the same word, aggelos, used in our text. However in these verses, it does not refer to an angels of God but a human messengers, one who brings tidings.
All believers and particularly church apostles or church planters are God's Messengers [aggelos], and some have been a guest of another believer who was unaware that they were the elect of God. The hospitality that Christians show, should be to all men, that the love of God will be illustrated in their good conduct.
In fact, that Greek word xenos in certain contexts can mean any of three things. It can mean a stranger (an alien or pilgrim), or by implication it can mean a guest (being a visitor in your household), or by extension it can mean to be a host (to entertain or be a host to a stranger to your household).
The Apostle Paul, in Romans, exhorts us to show the marks of a true Christian
Rom 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
The word here “hospitality” is again the same word Philoxenias.
We know how we would act if Christ were in our home or if He was walking literally by our side and this is a prompt to us, to live in such a way, as though He was with us physically.
The question is, are these messengers in Hebrews chapter 13 referring to angels that come down from heaven. Or is it referring to earthly messengers of God?
Once the scriptures were completed, (the Teleios), (that which is perfect), (the mature Word of God), what we call Holy Canon, there are no more miraculous visitations and revelations through supernatural Angels of God coming to
earth. No revelations through miracles, through dreams, visions, tongues or any other supernatural manifestation.
An angel speaking to you, or indeed to anyone else today would be a revelation, and indeed an addition to the word of God.
God has finally spoken to us by His Son Jesus. There are no new revelations.
Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
Paul tels us in Corinthians:
1Co 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
1Co 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
1Co 13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1Co 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Visitations of angels.
Whilst there were more visitations of angels in the Old Testament, contrary to what people believe, there are not many accounts of angel visitation in the New Testament.
Angelic visit to Zacharias:
Luke 1:19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
The Angel visitation to the tomb of Jesus:
Mat 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
Mat 28:3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
Mat 28:4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
Mat 28:5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.
The angel visitation to the shepherds:
Luk 2:9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
Luk 2:10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
The angel visitation to Mary:
Luke 1:26-38 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favoured one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.
The angel visitation to the Apostle in prison:
Acts 5:19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,
The angelic visitation to Philip:
Phillip, who was one of the disciples, had an interesting incident with an angel. The angel instructed him to go to Gaza, which he did, and there he met up with a high official, under the queen of Ethiopia, who was attempting to read and understand the book of Isaiah, the prophet. Phillip explained to the man the truth about Jesus.
Acts 8 “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.
The angelic visitation to Cornelius:
Acts 10, An angel, in a vision, visited a God fearing, non-Jewish man in Caesarea named Cornelius. Cornelius described the angel as a man in bright clothing.
The angel gave him instructions to contact Peter.
The angelic visitation to Peter:
Acts 12:21—23. An experience Peter had with an angel was again while he was in prison. In order to make sure he would not get away, Peter had been chained between two soldiers. These soldiers, oddly, did not wake up, even when the area that they were in became brightly lit. The event was so extraordinary that even Peter had a hard time believing what was happening. His chains fell off and the gate opened for him. It is amusing to picture the angel thumping Peter on the side to wake him. After leading Peter out of the prison, the angel vanished.
The Revelation of the Apostle John:
The angelic beings that he saw whilst in the spirit.
Rev 4:2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
Rev 5:11 I heard the voice of many angels
Rev 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth,
Rev 7:2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east,
Rev 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar,
Rev 8:6 And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
Rev 8:13 And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven,
Rev 10:1— Rev 14: 6, 8, 9, 15, 17, 19.— Rev 15 6. — Rev 18:1. — Rev 18:21.— Rev 19:17 — Rev 20:1
Do angels still appear to men? I don’t know. I have been a Christian for 47 years and I don’t know anyone that testifies to seeing an angel.
I know that there are those that claim that they have seen angels but whether this is the case, I don’t know.
We are told in scripture: Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
So, we do know that angels do exist and that there are good and evil angels.
I do know that we are warned against being led astray.
Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
We also know that there are those that claimed to have been visited by angels.
Joseph Smith ignored this warning when he began talking to Moroni a supposed angel bringing new revelation, resulting in the heretical Book of Mormon..
So did Mohammed, who the Muslims believe dictated the Koran.
Even as late as 1980, Bob Jones (Morning Star Ministries) spoke of the angel named Emma, that helped birth and start the whole prophetic movement in Kansas City in the 1980s. She was, he said, was a mothering-type angel that helped nurture the prophetic movement as it broke out. This angel was supposedly seen by Todd Bentley of Lakeland church, Florida.
Needless to say that the Bible nowhere talks about female angels.
Whilst angelic visits have happened in the past. As we have seen the Scriptures give many examples of this. On certain occasions the people were unaware of the angelic appearance.
Because God works any way that He desires, there is nothing stopping God from sending an angelic visitor, if He should so wish. Yet we must remember that angelic appearances were not the norm, even in biblical times.
Therefore believers should not expect angels to appear to them.
Angels Do Not Replace the Holy Spirit
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)
Notice, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things, not the angels of God. Some people think God sends angels to teach them and they end up in a spiritual quagmire. The Holy Spirit alone is our Teacher. The Bible says the angels of God desire to look into the things that God has revealed to us. It does not say angels come to reveal God's Word to us.
1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
So, the question is this: Is Heb 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares, talking about angel of God, (angels from heaven) or is this referring to earthly messengers? After all, the same word is used, (aggelos).
The truth is, it does not really matter. Whoever crosses our path, be it an angel unawares, or an earthly messenger that we are also unaware of, we should be hospitable and treat everyone with compassion and love.
Matthew 25:40 "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."