Interestingly, the apostle Paul, after speaking about showing kindness to strangers, went on to say: “Through it some, unknown to themselves, entertained angels.” Can you imagine how you would feel if you were given the opportunity to entertain angels? But Paul prefaced this with the expression “unknown to themselves.” Putting it another way, his point was that if we have the habit of showing kindness to others, including strangers or people we do not really know, we might be rewarded in unexpected ways.
Most Bible versions with cross-references link Paul’s words with the accounts about Abraham and Lot in Genesis chapters 18 and 19. In both cases, we read about angels appearing to them as strangers with important messages. In Abraham’s case, the message was about the fulfillment of God’s promise of a son, and in Lot’s case, it was about deliverance from the impending destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.—Genesis 18:1-10; 19:1-3, 15-17.
If you read the scriptures cited above, you will note that both Abraham and Lot extended kindness to passersby who were unknown to them. Of course, in Bible times, showing hospitality to travelers and passersby—whether friends, relatives, or strangers—was a matter of custom and duty. In fact, the Mosaic Law required that Israelites not overlook the needs of non-Israelites in the land. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19) Even so, it is apparent that Abraham and Lot went beyond what later came to be required by law. They put forth extraordinary effort to show kindness to strangers, and they were blessed for doing so.
Abraham’s acts of kindness brought blessings not only for himself in that he had a son but also for us. In what way? Abraham and his son Isaac played a vital role in the outworking of God’s purpose. They became key figures in the family line leading to the Messiah, Jesus. And their faithful course foreshadowed how the basis for human salvation was to be provided through God’s love and undeserved kindness.—Genesis 22:1-18; Matthew 1:1, 2; John 3:16.