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show hospitality to angels

06-09-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet

images8 On Thursday, September 4, in Rijnsburg, I gave a study on Hebrews 13. Verse 2, also, came up for discussion:

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (NIV)

Be not forgetting hospitality, for through this some were oblivious when lodging messengers. (CLV)

Apparently, the Hebrews were supposed to know to what the writer, here, was referring. Known also to them were the accounts in the book of Genesis, in which both, Abraham ( chap. 18) and Lot (chap. 19) received angels, without them knowing it at first. During the discussion, the question arose whether or not, even now, it could happen that people would come into contact with angels? The first issue that was considered is whether the rendering “angels” is correct. In our understanding, we, involuntarily, think of angels to be celestial beings, but that is not necessarily the meaning of the Greek word for “angel” (aggelos). “Aggelos” means “messenger” and that function can be fulfilled by a celestial being, as well as by a human being. For example, John the Baptist, is also called an “aggelos” (Matt.11:10). And Jesus sent two “aggelos” ahead, to make things ready for Him, in a Samaritan village (Luke 9:52). And the two spies, who stayed with the harlot, Rahab, are called (in James 2:25) also “aggelos”, i.e. messengers. The latter is particularly interesting, because although I did not realize it during the Bible study last night, we have, therefore, even a biblical example of “some who unknowingly have harbored (lodged, entertained) angels. Well, not angels, but certainly “aggelos”, messengers. Rahab did not, initially, know she had encountered “aggelos”, but that became very clear to her the following day (Joshua 2). If today, it could still occur for us to accommodate angels, I did not definitively assert during the discussion. But now I know better. Also today, we can, even unwittingly, receive messengers (of God). So the motive of the encouragement, till this very day, is in force: do not forget to be hospitable!