The word for hospitable comes from sandwiching two words together–friend and stranger. The word for friend is philos, which is where we get the word “brotherly love.” A “philos” was someone you loved as a brother or friend. This word, combined with the word for stranger, is translated “hospitable,” but quite literally means to be friendly towards strangers.
Romans 12:13 ESV says, “Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” 1 Peter 4:9 says, “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” And in 1 Timothy 5:10, a widow could be enrolled to receive help if she is no less than sixty, had one husband, and “having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.”
We often think of being hospitable as opening up our homes to friends and strangers. While this can be part of hospitality, the truest meaning is simply to be friendly to strangers–to treat them as a neighbor. Jesus epitomized hospitality throughout his ministry, including calling his disciples. When he called the Galilean women, they were strangers in need of a kind hand: “And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means” (Luke 8:1-3).
Jesus constantly showed hospitality and demonstrated how his followers should do the same.