Entertained Angels Unawares?'
-by Tony Warren
- "Let brotherly love continue.
- Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares".
There are two things that we should understand when searching for the truth of this verse. Number one, the word angel here is the Greek word [aggelos], meaning messenger, and is the "exact" same word translated messenger throughout scripture. Example:
- "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?"
That word translated Messengers is the "exact same" word translated angels. It's talking about people, not angelic beings.
Number two, the word translated "entertain strangers" is the Greek word [philoxenox], meaning to be friendly to those who you don't know. It's taken from the root words [philos] meaning friend, and [xenos] which here means someone with whom you are not acquainted. This is the only place where this is translated "entertain strangers", it's normal translation is hospitality. This verse is saying always be hospitable or "friendly to those who you do not know" because thereby some have entertained (or hosted) messengers. All believers are God's Messengers [aggelos] (translated angels), and some have been a guest of another believer who was unaware that they were the Chosen of God. But the Hospitality which Christians show is to all men, that the Love of God shows in their good conduct. In fact, that Greek word [xenos] in certain contexts can mean any of three things. It can mean a stranger (alien), or by implication a guest (being a stranger in your household), or by extension a host (entertaining or be a host to a stranger to your household).
We can use the understanding of this word as a goad for us, that in all we do, we show forth the love or charity which Christ has shown to us. For we may not know which of these roles we may be in at any time. Whether a guest, or a host, or a stranger ourselves, in any role we find ourselves we should be neighborly and charitable. This is what is so often hard for some Christians to do. It's not coincidental that when we read of what is required of Christians, this virtue is given a lofty platform.