Commentary on 1 Peter 4:1-19
Week 4 (July 31, 2022)
Preaching text: 1 Peter 4:1–19; accompanying text: Matthew 5:43-48
The letter writer prescribes hospitality as an aspect of diaspora Christian practices. In the context of 1 Peter, hospitality is not merely a courtesy but an extension of Christian identity.
The writer reminds readers to extend welcome to all members of the community: “Be hospitable to one another without fussing” (1 Peter 4:9). The Greek word for hospitality is actually a compound word (philoxenos) blending the root words for stranger (xenos) and love (philos; see other occurrences in 1:22; 3:8; 4:9; 5:14). The letter commands readers to practice “stranger love.” Practices of providing welcome, in the form of room and board, resources, and even resettlement—for strangers within a group kinship were common in the ancient world as this was not a world of hotels, timeshares, and online homestay booking culture.
In the logic of 1 Peter, hospitality and welcome takes on the form of mutuality, support, and affirmation (1 Peter 3:8; 4:8–10; 4:14). It is a mechanism for supporting the diverse and dispersed Christian membership. It welcomes Christian strangers from elsewhere among them. It serves the purpose of maintenance and preservation, linking scattered Christian communities (1:1; 5:9, 12–13) to each other.
Read commentary on Week 5 texts (Aug. 7, 2022).