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Hospitality was specifically commanded by God <Lev. 19:33-34; Luke 14:13-14; Rom. 12:13>. It was to be characteristic of all believers <1 Pet. 4:9>, especially bishops <Titus 1:-78; 1 Tim. 3:2>. Jesus emphasized the importance of hospitality by answering the question of who should inherit the kingdom: "I was a stranger and you took Me in" <Matt. 25:35>.

Several Old Testament personalities set a good example for all believers in the practice of hospitality. These included Abraham <Gen. 18:1-8>; David <2 Sam. 6:19>; the Shunammite woman <2 Kin. 4:8-10>; Nehemiah <Neh. 5:17-18>; and Job <Job 31:17-20>.

<Psalm 23> concludes with a portrait of a host who prepares a table for the weary, anoints the head of the guest with oil, and shows every kindness so that the guest's cup runs over. The psalmist sees the Lord Himself as Host; His hospitality exceeds all others.

The New Testament also gives examples of gracious hospitality: Mary <Matt. 26:6-13>; Martha <Luke 10:38>; the early Christians <Acts 2:45-46>; Lydia <Acts 16:14-15>; and Priscilla and Aquila <Acts 18:26>.

(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

(Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)