Wednesday, December 16, 2015



“Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” Romans 12:13
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2

The phrase “hospitality to strangers” used in these two verses is one word in the original  Greek of the New Testament: philoxenia (Φιλοξενία). Philoxenia comes from two root words, the noun “xenos” meaning alien, foreigner or stranger; and the verb “phileo” meaning to love, to have affection for, to delight in. The Greek language had several words for love. Most of us are familiar with “eros” which is often identified with physical or sexual love, and “agape” which is a deep caring love that seeks to provide what is in the best interest of the one loved. “Philo” love is a brotherly or familial kind of love. The early Quaker settlers in Pennsylvania established Philadelphia as the “City of Brotherly Love.”

So word philoxenia, translated as “hospitality” in Romans 12 and Hebrews 13, has the connotation of loving strangers as you would a brother or family member. And as I have stated before, to the first century Greeks and Greek-speaking Hebrews and Palestinians, the word “stranger” did not just mean someone you do not know, it meant someone from an ethnic background, race, religion or culture that was different than your own. That is why some translations use the words “alien” or “foreigner” to translate “xenos” (ξένος). And that is what makes these verses so radical. Jews in the first century considered themselves “unclean” if they were even accidentally touched by a non-Jew, a Gentile. If a Gentile came into their home, they would have to ritually clean it before they could allow any of their Jewish friends or family to enter.

As I pointed out a few weeks ago, in Matthew 25 we see Jesus praising those who welcomed strangers (aliens) and condemning for eternity those who did not. In Romans 12 we see that the Apostle Paul commands Hebrew and Gentile Christians to show brotherly love to strangers (including aliens or foreigners). And the same command is repeated by the author of Hebrews in chapter 13 of that epistle. So I remain amazed and saddened that so many of my Christian acquaintances who say they want our nation to return to Christian values, are in fact demanding our nation do just the opposite of what the Bible commands and shut our borders to refugees from war and poverty.

The Christian church grew exponentially in its first few centuries of her existence. Living out the Bible’s commands to show hospitality, the brotherly love of aliens, foreigners, or strangers, was the number one reason for that growth. If you really want a Christian revival in our land, then live like you mean it. Love the strangers, the foreigners, the refugees just as the early church did. To do otherwise mocks both the Christ and the Holy Scriptures you profess to love.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


The Christian Bible records that around 2,000 years ago a man and a woman and their baby fled their homeland because a cruel despotic ruler was slaughtering innocent children. Joseph, Mary and Jesus became refugees in Egypt. Thankfully, there were no Teapublican governors at the border to turn them away. 

Apparently All Lives Don't Matter

I find it more than a bit disingenuous that many of the folks who demanded that the slogan "black lives matter" be changed to "all lives matter" are now, in effect, saying Syrian lives don't matter.

A Parable of Christ’s Return
The Sheep and The Goats

Several of my FB friends, both those of a secular background and those who purport to be Christians, have taken umbrage at my pleas to welcome to our shores a refugee population our nation helped create. It is to those who claim Christ I write now.

Just days before his crucifixion, death and resurrection, Jesus told this parable about his return:

31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.'

37 Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?'

40 And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'                                
41Then he will say to those at his left hand, "You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'

44 Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?'

45 Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

It is the word “stranger” in verses 35 and 43 that I would like to draw your attention too. The New Testament and thus this passage here were originally written in Greek, the language of commerce and diplomacy in the first century. And the Greek word translated as “stranger” in this parable is “xenos” (ξένος). Literally, xenos means foreign or alien. It is from this word we get the English word “xenophobia” which means fear of foreigners.

In the time of Christ, his people, the Jews, tended to look down their self-righteous noses at people who were not of their ethnic background. If a non-Jew entered their home they would have to ritually clean it before a fellow Jew could enter. If a non-Jew touched their garment, they would have to ritually clean it or perhaps even burn it. So this teaching of Christ was very radical to those who heard it the first time. Jesus was very clearly saying his followers are to be people who welcome the stranger, the foreigner, the alien, the person of a different culture and ethnic group, into their communities and, yes, into their homes.

And so, to my FB friends who claim Christ yet want to shun those he would welcome, I ask that you prayerfully reread the parable of the sheep and the goats and then make a decision to not be a goat.