Be not forgetful to entertain strangers
By whom are meant, not unconverted men, who are strangers to God and Christ, and the covenants of promise; nor saints, who are as pilgrims and strangers in this world; but such as are of another country, and are unknown; and even though wicked men, they are not excluded; though such as are obliged to quit their own country for righteousness sake are chiefly designed; all strangers in distress are meant, and hospitality is to be exercised towards them; which lies negatively in doing nothing to distress them, and positively in providing food, raiment, lodging for them, and in comforting, counselling, and directing them in all matters in which they may stand in need thereof: and that this is a duty, appears from the light of nature, and practices of the Heathens, ( Acts 28:2 Acts 28:7 ) , from the express law of God, ( Deuteronomy 10:19 ) and many others made in favour of strangers, binding on the Jews; from the sundry exhortations to it in the New Testament, ( Romans 12:13 ) ( 1 Peter 4:9 ) and from the exhortation here not to forget it; and from the great regard which Christ will show to such as mind it, and his disregard to others at the last day: the persons who are to exercise it are not only the ministers of the Gospel, who should be given to hospitality; but all the saints, even the meaner sort are not exempted, but should use it according to their ability; though it is chiefly binding on those that are rich. And this should not be forgot, but pursued and followed after; it should be frequently performed; men should be given, and used to it; it should be done without grudging, and in a friendly and loving manner:
for thereby some have entertained angels unawares;
as Abraham, ( Genesis 18:1-8 ) , he knew them not to be angels at first; they appeared as men, and he treated them as such; but they were angels, yea, one of them was Jehovah himself; and hereby he received many favours, ( Genesis 18:10 Genesis 18:17 Genesis 18:23 Genesis 18:33 ) , and Lot, ( Genesis 19:1-3 ) who knew not that they were angels he took into his house; but they were, and he was delivered by them from the burning of Sodom; yea, some have unawares, this way, entertained Christ himself, ( Luke 24:15-31 ) and indeed, entertaining of his members is entertaining him, ( Matthew 25:38 Matthew 25:40 ) . It is an observation of a Jewish writer F18 upon the first of these instances;
``from hence we learn (says he) how great is the strength (or virtue) of the reception of travellers (or hospitality), as the Rabbins of blessed memory say, greater is (Myxrwa tonkh) , "hospitality", than the reception of the face of the Shechinah.''And this is said to be one of the six things which a man enjoys the fruit of in this world, and for which there remains a reward in the world to come F19.
F18 R. Abraham Seba in Tzeror Hammor, fol. 18, 4.
F19 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 127. 1.