Hospitality was an important value in the ancient world. Traveling without planes or cars or the other conveniences and comforts that exist now was difficult. Mistreating strangers would incur the wrath of God in the Bible and hospitality was an important part of every day life.
In his dissertation on the essence of hospitality, Kevin D. O’Gorman wrote, “Going back in time to primitive and archaic societies, hospitality in its broad sense was seen as essentially organic, as a vital and integral part of such societies revealing much about their cultural values and beliefs.”
What does the Bible say about hospitality and welcoming strangers?
There are many verses in the Bible about welcoming strangers.
- Deuteronomy 27:19 reads, “‘Cursed be anyone who deprives an alien, an orphan, or a widow of justice.’ All the people shall say, ‘Amen!’”
- In Exodus 22:21, God reminds the Israelites that they were foreigners in Egypt and shouldn’t mistreat foreigners because they should remember that experience.
- Leviticus 19 contains a similar admonition to the Israelites to remember their experience in Egypt. They are told to love foreigners like they love themselves.
- Malachi 3:5 indicates that the Lord will testify against those who set foreigners aside.
- In the parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, Jesus teaches that the Son of Man will gather the nations together and divide people on the left and the right. Jesus says that those who take care of strangers will receive eternal life and those who do not will receive eternal punishment.
- Hebrew 13:2 includes, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”