Original Research

Old Testament foundations for Christian hospitality

Lee Roy Martin
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 1 | a752 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i1.752 | © 2014 Lee Roy Martin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 June 2012 | Published: 26 February 2014

About the author(s)

Lee Roy Martin, Pentecostal Theological Seminary, Cleveland, United States of America; Department of Old Testament and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of South Africa, South Africa


In an effort to revive the ancient Christian practice of hospitality, scholars often appeal to the Old Testament as a model to be emulated. This article examined and described the practice of hospitality in the Old Testament and evaluated its relevancy for the recent discussions surrounding hospitality. Throughout the history of discussions on hospitality, Abraham has served as the exemplar of biblical hospitality. Therefore, the Old Testament practice of hospitality was evaluated through Abraham’s story found in Genesis 18. It was concluded that the Old Testament practice of hospitality is not sufficient as a contemporary model for hospitality, but that the following elements of Old Testament thought might serve as theological underpinnings for a renewed and revisioned Christian practice of hospitality in today’s multi-faith environment, in that, (1) all humans bear the image of God, (2) all humans are relational creatures, (3) all humans are dependent upon each other and (4) all humans are travellers hosted by God.


Abraham; Genesis; foreigners; hospitality; theological exegesis


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