Hotels or inns were either few or indecent and dangerous or expensive as a means of temporary housing for itinerate ministers. They primarily stayed in homes along the way, similar to contemporary bed–and–breakfast inns designed to help itinerate ministries.
Jesus and the apostles depended on this hospitality wherever they went: “Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house” (Luke 10:38).
Hospitality could mean a meal and a brief visit, but it usually implied an overnight or extended stay. Hospitality means making others feel comfortable and at home. The objective is to encourage them, sharing truths and testimonies while providing for their needs.
In a series of imperatival participles, Paul sums up the serving ministries, “distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality” (Rom 12:13). Peter describes how to serve one another: “Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet 4:9–-10). To emphasize its importance, a bishop/elder or pastor was required to be “hospitable”
(1 Tim 3:2; Titus 1:8).
The focus of 3 John is the ministry of hospitality, where Gaius is commended: “You are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. You will do well to send them on their way in a manner worthy of God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such men so that we may work together for the truth” (3 Jn 5–-9NIV).
By serving the needs of others, we indirectly serve the Lord. Matthew says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt 25:40).
He went on to describe this ministry as feeding the hungry, being hospitable to strangers, clothing the naked, and visiting those imprisoned for Christ’s sake. To ignore these opportunities for hospitality is to turn our backs on Jesus (24:45). Have you ever gone to church looking for someone to invite to your home for a meal?
“Thank You, Lord, for those who cross my path whom we can help in our home. Keep me alert to look today for someone You want us to bless.”