Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
There is no reason for thinking that under the Christian dispensation angelic beings ever assume a visible form, though we have nevertheless the comforting assurance that they are all "ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that shall be the heirs of salvation." But the visit might be like that of an angel, inasmuch as the visitor might bring rich intelligence as to the glorious things of the invisible world. What is there to prevent God from enabling one of our fellow-men to discourse to us so exquisitely on the deep things of our faith and the beautiful and harmonious things of heaven, that the effect shall be literally the same as though He had commissioned a cherub or a seraph to take human form and speak in human speech? We will give you as nearly as we may the scene which was likely to occur in the early days of the Church, and which, with due allowance made for change in circumstances, might occur in our own. We suppose a Christian family gathered round their fireside in times when the profession of Christianity exposed to persecution. They are themselves almost dreading the coming of the inquisitor, and they are startled by that knock at their door, fancying that it may proceed from some minister of cruelty; but there is only an aged wanderer who solicits admission, and the storm pleads for him as eloquently as his grey hairs. Shall he be refused?" It is not unlikely that he is some poor victim whom the dogs of persecution are hunting down. If we admit him, he may be tracked to this house, and then, without being able to shield him, we shall be ruined ourselves." But the master of that house is too staunch a character to be deterred from duty by the fear of consequences. Simply reminding his family of the precept — "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers," he opens his door, and bids the old man welcome in the name of the Lord; and the stranger, whilst partaking the proffered hospitality, enters into conversation, and, finding that they are Christians who have so kindly received him, seeks to recompense the kindness by discoursing on Christianity, and he pours forth all the treasures of his experience, and enlarges on the mysteries of redemption. He is one who has thought deeply and felt deeply; and as he dilates on the love of God in sending His own dear Son, and explains the blessed and marvellous manner in which the provisions of the gospel meet the wants of fallen creatures, or speaks thrillingly of "the exceeding and eternal weight of glory," for which the trials of life are only a preparation, every eye is fast rivetted upon him, and his voice falls on every ear as some unearthly sound; but most sweet and most musical in its unearthliness. Is there any reason whatsoever why this might not occur, why it might not happen in any age of the Church, though more likely when persecution had caused the excellent of the earth, like the Master whom they served, to have not where to lay the head? And when the old man, wearied by his own high stretchings into mysteries and glories, had sunk to repose, would not the amazed and delighted family say, one to another, as the disciples who had journeyed to Emmaus, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the Scriptures? "Would not their feeling be as though they had received into their circle the inhabitant of a better world, known, not indeed by the wing of light and the eye of fire; but by wisdom drawn from gazing upon God; and would they not exclaim, "Oh! well hath the apostle followed up his precept, 'Be not forgetful to entertain strangers,' by saying, 'for thereby some have entertained angels unawares'"?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.