Loving Strangers - What Did Jesus Say About Hospitality - Literally Defined In New Testament Greek As "Loving Strangers"

Loving Strangers. Under the Jewish Hospitality Ethic, "loving strangers" was more than a suggestion. It was God's command.
Camels in the desert.

Imagine that you live in the Middle East of 2000 or 3000 years ago. As you travel, you discover there is no Holiday Inn where you can stop for the night. Travellers had to depend on the hospitality of strangers for their comfort, their lives, their safety.

Hospitality was a necessary part of life in the ancient near east.

Not only was Israel commanded to treat strangers with kindness. God said Israel must love strangers as they love their neighbors.

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18.

“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:34.

Hospitality - Loving Strangers In The New Testament

1. The Testimony of Jesus About Hospitality.


Ruins of ancient Capernaum, where Jesus lived during His earthly ministry.

The Pharisees asked Jesus this question. “Which is the great commandment in the law?” Matthew 22:36-40.

Had Jesus been a modern Pharisee, He might have quoted Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13, "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination" and lowered the boom on “homosexuals,” as many modern Christians love to do.

Instead, Jesus looks the Pharisee legalists in the eye and quotes Leviticus 19:18, the hospitality ethic.

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

I'll bet those ancient Pharisees were as disappointed with Jesus' answer as modern Pharisees seem to be. What is it about Pharisees i any age that they cannot agree with Jesus?

Jesus refused to say anything negative about homosexuals. Isn't that interesting?

Here was a perfect opportunity to slam "those disgusting homos" but Jesus refused to do that. That's not what Jesus was about.

For Jesus, life was about "loving strangers."

For Jesus, life was about "philoxenia" or Hospitality.

For Jesus, life was about ministering to those no one else cared about.

According to Jesus, loving God and loving neighbor were the most important commandments in the law. If you had to boil down all of the law and the prophets into just two succinct and pithy propositions, according to Jesus they would be:

1. Love God

2. Love your neighbor.

These two commandments sum up the law and prophets.

Christians who so frequently apply Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 to homosexuals need to meditate on Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in Matthew 22:36-40. Isn’t it odd? When it comes to loving strangers, like homosexuals, for instance, it seems that

modern Pharisees who profess to follow Jesus, disagree with Jesus as frequently as did ancient Pharisees.


Some scholars locate ancient Sodom, that inhospitable city, near the southern end of the Dead Sea.

Modern Christians are a lot like the inhabitants of ancient Sodom. They lack hospitality.

Sometimes it seems like modern Christians are trying to imitate the Pharisees and the inhabitants of ancient Sodom, instead of loving strangers. They have a peculiar obsession about keeping the Law and a strange inability to show hospitality to those with whom they disagree.

  • They can quote the Law of Moses but they do not seem to know the meaning of the Greek word philoxenia ("loving strangers").

  • They can quote the Levitical Holiness Code but they do not seem to know the meaning of hospitality.

  • They can tell young Christians that the Old Testament law still applies but they do not seem to know what it truly means to "love strangers."

If modern Christians had any knowledge of how ancient Jews viewed the Sodom Story, perhaps they would be not be so antigay. The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 109 makes it clear that ancient Jews, for 1700 years after the destruction of Sodom, linked the Sodom story to Inhospitality, not to Homosexuality.

2. Jesus Points Out An Example of Inhospitality In The Life Of Simon The Pharisee.

In the ancient near east, a host showed hospitality to his guest by treating him with loving kindness.
Jesus rebukes Simon the Pharisee

Providing water for washing the feet, greeting a guest with a kiss on both cheeks, offering olive oil mixed with spices to anoint the hair, demonstrated hospitality - loving strangers - in a practical way.

Inhospitality, which could be defined as not loving strangers, was a huge and grievous sin to our pre-Christian ancestors and to Jesus. Sodom in Gen 19 is an example of Inhospitality but what about Inhospitality in the New Testament?

During His earthly ministry, when Jesus visited the home of Simon the Pharisee, Simon performed none of those hospitable acts and Jesus publicly remarked on it to Simon.

“I entered thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet... Thou gavest me no kiss... My head with oil thou didst not anoint.” Luke 7:44-46.

Hospitality was such an important issue to our Lord Jesus that it is the only sin He mentions when He discusses Sodom, Mt 10:15..

When Simon the Pharisee failed to treat Him hospitably, Jesus rebuked Simon publicly, in front of the other guests.

Isn't that interesting?

Isn't that remarkable?

Since Jesus placed such great importance on Hospitality, it is time for the modern church to change her Inhospitable behavior toward the gay community. If you profess to follow Jesus, you cannot continue to behave inhospitably toward your gay brothers and lesbian sisters.

3. The Testimony Of The New Testament.

In the New Testament, under grace, there is as much emphasis on "loving strangers" or Hospitality as in the Old Testament, under law.

a. Christians are commanded to be hospitable to strangers.

“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2.

b. Paul tells us believers in Jesus Christ should be “given to hospitality.” Romans 12:13.

The Greek word philoxenia, translated “entertain strangers” in Hebrews 13:2, is translated “hospitality” in Romans 12:13.

Philoxenia literally means “loving strangers.”

c. One of the requirements for the office of bishop in the New Testament Church was to be “given to hospitality.” I Timothy 3:2.

d. One of the requirements for an ordained elder was to be “a lover of hospitality.” Titus 1:8.

In the modern world, homosexuals are "strangers" to the community of faith. Gays and lesbians are often treated with Inhospitality. Most churches do not want us unless they can convince us we need to live under the Old Testament Law.

Did it ever occur to you that Inhospitality, the sin of Sodom, is the sin the modern church most frequently commits against homosexuals?

Modern Christians are not willing to place themselves under Old Testament Law but they willingly attempt to place gays under Old Testament Law.

How many modern pastors do you know who show love for homosexuals in practical ways?

How many modern churches minister to the homosexual community, apart from attempting to put us under the yoke of the Law?

Instead of practicing Hospitality to others, ministering to homosexuals in a kind and loving way, some modern pastors seem intent on belittling, stereotyping, name-calling and driving away homosexuals.

e. Peter reminds Christians to “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” I Peter 4:9.

There is no exception clause concerning hospitality toward gay Christians.

In the early church, pastors, elders, bishops and ordinary Christians were required to be hospitable, to love strangers.

Today, the scriptural requirement of hospitality is frequently ignored by Christians, replaced with animosity toward gays and lesbians.

Scripture is clear that God requires authentic Christians to show Hospitality. Are you an authentic Christian?

In the twenty first century, philoxenia, loving strangers, showing hospitality encompasses the way we treat the homosexual community.
Stack of Bibles.

Reaching out in love to those who are despised and rejected, to those who are spiritually wounded, can begin to heal the broken hearts and free the captives.

The question now becomes,

Will you obey the scriptures?

What really happened in ancient Sodom?

TorahQuest gives the Jewish view of the Sodom Story.

Rabbi Robert Saks gives the Jewish view on Sodom.

Rabbi Steven Greenberg of Jewish Moasaic discusses the Jewish view of Sodom.

Rabbi Steven Pik-Nathan explains the Jewish view of Sodom.

Jesus identified the sin of Sodom and it was not homosexuality.

Inhospitality As The Sin of Sodom.

History And Scripture Are Clear About The Sin Of Sodom.

In The Bible, sodomites were shrine prostitutes, not homosexuals.

This page is excerpted from our powerful new, 400 page book Gay Christian 101 - Spiritual Self-Defense For Gay Christians.

What was a sodomite in the Bible? Was it a homosexual, as many Christian preachers insist or was a sodomite in the Bible always a shrine prostitute who worshipped the Canaanite fertility goddess?

Loving strangers? Is that part of your ministry? Return to GayChristian101 Home Page.

God searches our hearts. God knows our thoughts and our motives. Has your behavior toward homosexuals obeyed God's command to "love strangers" and exhibit hospitality?

If Not, what practical steps will you take to remedy the situation?