Vol.VIII No.XI Pg.5
January 1972

Receive Strangers

Robert F. Turner

John wrote, Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers. (KJ) The A. S. translates, and strangers withal; and the context clearly indicates that these strangers were brethren in Christ. Alford, Vincent, Robertson, and many other scholars explain the grammatical construction; but we common folk would just say, Its good when you encourage traveling brethren, and strangers at that; or even though they are strangers. (And Im not even a translator.)

This passage in 3 Jn. 5 is addressed to Gaius (v.1), and whether this is the Gaius of Rom. 16:23 or not it seems significant that Paul calls Gaius host of the whole church. The word host and stranger are from the same Greek word, xenos. Thayer says the word from Homer down meant a guest—friend; and it is combined with philos to make a word meaning, loving a stranger or hospitality. The scriptures abound with exhortations to love strangers i.e. show hospitality. (Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; Heb. 13:2; 1 Pet. 4:9)

BRETHREN, AM I WASTING MY TIME AND SPACE? Is there no point here for us?

The hospitality urged upon all Christians is not coffee or punch for after-service visiting of close friends. It is love for strangers. We have motels, etc., to care for general public needs, and in this day of affluence most travelers prefer such facilities to staying in a private home. (Sometimes it may be more hospitable to provide a motel room, especially for one long on the road. But our obligation to entertain strangers (Heb. 13:2) is not changed. In one realm, particularly, we may find application for this admonition.

The strangers of 3 John were traveling for His names sake or to promote the cause of Christ. It was that we might be fellow- helpers to the truth that John urged reception of such — the Christ-like virtue of hospitality being enhanced by the fact that these travelers were known and judged only by the truth which they preached. They may have been aliens, foreigners, within the bounds of the language. The possibility of an inclination to reject, from a personal viewpoint, is the very thing which makes the reception so beautiful. We are discussing hospitality — not a pride-pleasing opportunity to show off our home to influential friends and neighbors.

Today, strangers may come our way in the interest of the Lords work in foreign lands. They may speak a different language, or have accents strange to our ears. Our colors may differ. As the preaching of the gospel in foreign (to our) lands increase (may God speed the day) these contacts must increase. This means we will have increasing opportunities to do faithfully to and for brethren, even strangers. Let us carefully guard against selfish, home-bound attitudes. These are not second -class citizens in Gods kingdom. Granting soundness in life and practice (and your closest friend must be measured by the same standard) these brethren deserve our help. Remember, Christ may come as a stranger! (Matt. 25:43)