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Are we living with angels in flesh? I've heard of the spiritual element of angels through the Bible and other mediums, but the following verse introduces them in flesh.

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

Is this verse simply metaphoric or is there a deeper significance?

  • Just wanted to add this comment here in case it is useful. When Lot showed hospitality to the two angels (Genesis 19:3), it seems that he was not aware that they were angels. This can be seen for example in how Lot (according to Middle Eastern custom) wanted to protect his guests since they had come under his roof. Before the people of that city surrounded Lot's house, verse 3 tells us that Lot had made a feast for the visitors and fed them. So it looks like a case that would match Paul's description in Hebrews 13:2. – user100487 Jun 28 '17 at 22:25
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Angelic apparitions could be either metaphoric or real depending on who you ask.

"Throughout Scripture, we see numerous instances in which angels were an integral part of God’s plan. One verse alludes to the possibility of angels walking among us today: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). The obvious reference is to Abraham, whose angelic visitors appeared to him as mere men (Genesis 18). This verse may or may not confirm that angels are indeed walking among us unawares; “have shown” is past tense, so present-day encounters are not explicitly mentioned.

There are dozens of scriptural examples of angelic encounters, so we know that God can and does use angels to accomplish certain things. What we don’t know for sure is how often angels allow themselves to be seen by people. Here are the basics about angels from the Bible: angels can instruct people (Genesis 16:9), help people (Daniel 6:22), deliver messages to people (Luke 1:35), appear in visions and dreams (Daniel 10:13), protect people (Exodus 23:20), and help carry out God’s plans.

We know that God created angels, and He uses angels in His plan. Angels have a sense of individuality, as some have names (such as Gabriel and Michael) and all have different responsibilities within the angelic hierarchy."- Are there Angels among us?

Let us not forget that the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary at the Annunciation.

Many Catholics believe that an angel appeared to the three children of Fatima in 1916.

It is also said that St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440) was guided by an Archangel that only she could see.

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Hebrews 13:2 reflects a strong cultural injunction throughout the ancient Hellenic world. Even pagans feared offending strangers who could be gods in disguise. In Euripides' play, The Bacchae, the god Dionysis disguises himself and, through him, King Pentheus learns the consequences of inhospitality to strangers.

Had the author of Hebrews known of actual examples of people entertaining angels without knowing it, we can be sure there would have been more than a single verse placed in the middle of a whole range of scarcely related material, with no hint of evidence. We can be sure this verse this verse was simply metaphorical and intended to encourage good conduct and hospitality.

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  • I've always thought that an oblique reference to Genesis 18, though Abraham did know he was hosting angels then. At any rate, it should be familiar enough to Hebrews that it would not necessitate mention... – Wtrmute Mar 3 '17 at 11:06
  • @Wtrmute, although Abraham seem to have known that the visitors were angelic representatives of God, his nephew Lot (whom two of them visited later in Sodom, in Genesis 19) apparently was not aware of that. This can be seen for example in how Lot (according to Middle Eastern custom) wanted to protect his guests since they had come under his roof. Before the people of that city surrounded Lot's house, verse 3 tells us that Lot had made a feast for the visitors and fed them. So this seems to be a case where hospitality was shown to such visitors without knowing that they were angels. – user100487 Jun 28 '17 at 22:13
  • @Wtrmute Abraham was not entertaining angels in Genesis 18, it says that God took on the form of three persons, not God and two angels. Lot entertained two angels. The syntax shows that all three received worship and all three spoke and all three could read the mind of Sarah. Just thought it was worth clarifying the point. As for the responder Paul May very well have alluded to Lot a commonly known historical event and didn’t need to reference it in his writings. – Autodidact Mar 2 '19 at 22:25

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