Summary: How important is it to be a welcoming church? How are we received? How do we receive faithful Bible teachers, each other, and new or weak disciples? Let’s look at the importance of hospitality in Matthew 10:40-42.
How important is it to be a welcoming church? How are we received? How do we receive faithful Bible teachers, each other, and new or weak disciples? Let’s look at the importance of hospitality in Matthew 10:40-42.
Now it happened one day that Elisha went to Shunem, where there was a notable woman… she said to her husband… let us make a small upper room on the wall… he can turn in there.”
… he had called her… What can I do for you? … Then he said, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.” And … the woman conceived, and bore a son… (2 Kings 4:8-17 NKJV)
This is a wonderful story of hospitality. A wealthy woman and her husband went to considerable trouble and expense building a spare room for Elisha to rest on his journeys. He learned that she was childless. The prophet said she would bear a child. God rewarded her for remarkable hospitality.
“He who receives you [plural] receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” (Matthew 10:40 NKJV)
Do we receive Christians of other theological persuasions? If Calvinists, Arminians, Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox also receive Jesus, do we receive them? Why would we NOT receive anyone who receives Jesus? We MAY not accept some details of their doctrines, but do we receive them as fellow believers in Jesus?
“He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matthew 10:41 NKJV)
A prophet proclaims a divine message. A prophet is someone to whom God reveals His truth, and through whom He speaks. OT prophets preached salvation, grace and glory yet to be accomplished. NT prophets preach of salvation and grace already accomplished, and glory yet to be fulfilled in the future.
A righteous man acts on a divine message. Bengel’s Gnomon says, “A prophet is one who speaks, a righteous man one who acts, in the name of God, and is distinguished for his remarkable righteousness.” Welcome a preacher or righteous person, and we receive the same reward in eternity.
“And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42 NKJV)
A glass of water is the least hospitable thing that we can do for a guest. Who is a little one? Is it broadly applicable to different people? It seems they are a disciple. New Christians, humble Christians, Christians with faulty theology, certain addictions or habitual sins are little ones.
Jesus gave four points on hospitality: 1) Receive you, and receive Jesus. 2) Receive a preacher of truth, though all are faulty. 3) Receive those righteous by faith in Jesus, though still faulty. 4) Receive new or weak disciples, though little or not yet righteous, give them a warm welcome.
In this context, Jesus was not speaking about hospitality towards false prophets or other unrepentant troublemakers. He spoke of various levels of discipleship, from the original twelve to the littlest disciple. Let’s be thankful for those who receive us. Let’s welcome faithful preachers of truth, the righteous and little ones.
The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Copyright © 1982 Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved.
Johann Albrecht Bengel. Gnomon Novi Testamenti, Exegetical Annotations on the New Testament. 1742.
Bullinger, Rev. Ethelbert W. A. Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1895. 2008 TheBible.org
Genesis 22:1-14 “The best evidence of our fearing God is our being willing to honour him with that which is dearest to us, and to part with all to him, or for him.” (John Wesley’s Commentary)
Psalm 13 In moments of despair trust in His love, rejoice in His salvation, sing of His goodness
Jeremiah 28:5-9 "Those who do not declare the alarming as well as the encouraging parts of God's word, and call men to repentance, and faith, and holiness, tread in the steps of the false prophets." (Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 a throne forever, fulfilled in a descendant of David
Romans 6:12-23 in Jesus we have complete victory over sin
Matthew 10:40-42 in Rhyme
He who receives you, receives Me
Receives the One who sent Me, He
Receive a prophet in his name
And receive his reward, the same
Receives the righteous in his name
And receive his reward, the same
Give a little one just water
A disciple, son or daughter
Believe me, you won’t be ignored
You’ll by no means lose your reward