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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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HOSPITALITY.—This marked Oriental virtue prevailed in Palestine in Christ’s day. Our Lord assumes its exercise, rather than directly enjoins it. His Apostles, later, however, prescribed hospitality as a reflexion of the Christ spirit (Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 3:2, Titus 1:8, Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9), even towards an enemy (Romans 12:20). Because of the widespread prevalence of hospitality, inns (wh. see) were comparatively few; and even in khans or places of lodgment for strangers there were unfurnished rooms which were at the disposal of travellers, without cost. The innkeeper or host usually received remuneration for such extra service as the stranger might require, as in a case like that of the wounded man cared for at the Samaritan’s expense (Luke 10:35). Since Jesus Himself ‘had not where to lay his head’ (Matthew 8:20), He depended much upon the hospitality of the friendly disposed, as of Andrew and Peter at Capernaum (Matthew 8:14), and of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus at Bethany (John 11:1-5); and frequently accepted the hospitality of house-holders (Matthew 26:6, Luke 5:29; Luke 7:36 ff; Luke 19:5). On occasions of the great feasts at Jerusalem, guest-chambers were freely put at the disposal of visiting worshippers (Mark 14:14). When the Master sent out the Seventy, they were to take no purse, but to rely upon the hospitality of the people of the towns into which they might go (Luke 10:4 ff.); a blessing being left with the hospitable (Luke 10:6), while a woe is pronounced upon the inhospitable city (Luke 10:10-12). Christ said of His messengers that those who received them were in truth receiving Him (John 13:20). So incensed were two of His disciples at being refused entertainment in a Samaritan village, that they would have called down fire from heaven to destroy the people. But this spirit Jesus rebuked (Luke 9:52-56). The spirit of hospitality was manifested in giving not only lodging and food, but also water for the feet (Luke 7:44, cf. John 13:5); a servant usually unloosing and taking charge of the sandals (Luke 3:16). Sometimes a kiss characterized the hospitable reception (Luke 7:45).

The emphasis that Jesus laid upon the virtue of hospitality may be discovered in His description of the Last Judgment, in which the righteous are commended because ‘I was a stranger and ye took me in’ (Matthew 25:35). See also art. Inn.

Literature.—Thomson, LB [Note: The Land and the Book.] , passim; Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life; Trumbull, Oriental Social Life; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, s.v.

E. B. Pollard.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Hospitality'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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