“Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers—for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

Hebrews 13:1-2

You’ll never know when one might show up.


We’re fascinated by them and have a variety of ideas about them.  So often they’re portrayed with white, flowing robes, wings, a halo above their heads and strumming on a harp.  Or, in recent years on television programs and in movies, they’re depicted as someone in human form, possessing supernatural strength, who’ve been dispatched to earth to deliver a message or rescue someone in need.

Throughout the Old and New Testaments we find their presence.  And, in every situation they’re servants of God, created and used by Him as He sees fit.  Even though Satan or Lucifer was once an angel himself and fell from Heaven with one-third of all the angels (Lk. 10:18; Is. 14:12-15; Ez. 28:11-19), the angels being described in today’s Manna are still servants of the Lord God.  And, that’s why we should not be “forgetful to entertain (Grk. ‘philonexia’—‘to be hospitable toward, be fond of guests, given to hospitality, etc.’) strangers—for you never know when one of them might be an angel.”

And, most likely, they’ll not have wings or a halo or a harp.

They might look like that beggar standing on the street corner.  Or, that bag lady asleep on a piece of cardboard over a steam vent in the sidewalk of a large city.  Or, that homeless man, hopping boxcars, who lives in a “hobo jungle” at the edge of a metropolitan area.

Their hair may be dirty and unkempt.  Their clothes may be wrinkled and soiled.  Their teeth may not have seen a toothbrush or toothpaste in several weeks.  You don’t need to be told that they’ve not had a bath in a long time.

But, who said “angels in disguise” always show up in the most presentable ways?

That’s why we should always treat each person we meet with respect and do what we can to help them—for Jesus Himself said “You’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto Me” (Mt. 25:45).

Now, assuredly, there’ll be times when we know a person. . .how they’re being held captive by the devil through drink, drunks or laziness. . .and our giving them money would be foolish.  But, we still should be compassionate toward them and give them something to eat if they’re hungry, for we’re “giving a cup of cold water in the Savior’s Name” (Mt. 10:42).

Most likely, we’ll not know until we reach Heaven how many “angels we’ve entertained without knowing it.”  But, one thing is for sure:  Since the Greek word “aggelos” is used here for “angel” and also means “a messenger who brings good tidings,” we should particularly honor those whose lives are devoted to sharing Christ’s Good News with others.  And, we, too, fulfill the role of an angel when we share with others what Christ has done for us.