Saturday, May 10, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014: Words 17 and 18: Hospitality and Perfect

In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words/concepts of hospitality and perfection.


The words hospitality or hospitable are mentioned in the Bible fewer than 10 times and only in the New Testament. The word in Greek that is translated to hospitality it s philoxenia, which means lover of strangers. Despite being mentioned only a few times in the Bible, it is an important concept mentioned by Paul, Peter, John, Luke, and the writer of the Hebrews. In both 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:8, Paul notes it as a qualification for elders. It is also "commanded" multiple times:

  • Romans 12:13-practice hospitality
  • Hebrews 3:2-don't forget to show hospitality
  • 1 Peter 4:9-offer hospitality without grumbling
  • 3 John 1:8- show hospitality to work together in the truth
The 3 John passage is a key point. Hospitality allows Christians to work together in the church--both through hospitality shown to other Christians and to those outside the church.

Earlier this year, I read a book by Rosaria Butterfield called The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Butterfield was formerly an atheist, lesbian, women's studies professor at Syracuse who converted to Christianity. Her path to accepting Christ was a long and winding one, but she noted in her book that the genuine hospitality of the people who shared Christ had a big impact on her. It was a hospitality akin to the hospitality that she experienced and lived it in her own life within the community of like-minded individuals she engaged with as a liberal academic. Hospitality is just as much about inviting people into your life as it is about inviting people into your home, and genuine hospitality can have a profound impact.


The world "perfect" is probably one of the most frustrating and misconstrued words in the English language. We have our own preconceived notions of perfection that are, more often than not, unattainable. We often think of perfection in the context of the attributes we like, not the attributes we have. The word "perfect" in the original Hebrew or Greek in the Bible usually means something more along the lines of "complete", "sound", or " whole".

Much of the Bible's use of the word "perfect" relates to who God is or the completeness of His character.  In the Old Testament, aspects and workings of God are called perfect:

  • His works (Deuteronomy 32:4)
  • His way (2 Samuel 22:31 and Psalm 18:30)
  • His law (Psalm 19:7)
  • His faithfulness (Isaiah 25:1)
  • His beauty (Psalm 50:2)
God's perfection and the perfection of  His character is also highlighted in the New Testament:
  • His will (Romans 12:2)
  • His power over our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)
  • His gifts (James 1:17)
  • His law (James 1:25)
  • His love that drives out fear (I John 4:8)
You might be thinking, "thanks, Captain Obvious, of course God is perfect. What about us?". The book of Hebrews especially talks about how we are perfect (complete) because of God. Particularly, chapter 10 verse 14 which says that we're perfect by His sacrifice.

Thinking about perfection with the understanding of its true meaning,completeness, I can't help but think of the saccharin sweet line from the movie Jerry Maguire:

 To be sure, that line may be sweet (even in a vomit inducing manner, but I'm not a particularly mushy person) but no person every completes us...or makes us perfect. God is the only one who can do that. We're whole because of Him. We're perfect because of Him. Whatever we think we lack, with our incomplete understanding of true perfection, is really what completes us because of His sacrifice. We were created in His image. Therefore, we are the image of perfection.

Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

 Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

 Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion

Words 7 and 8: Kindness and Faithfulness

Words 9 and 10: Goodness and Pride

Words 11 and 12: Self-Control and Self-Discipline

Words 13 and 14: Joy and Gluttony

Words 15 and 16: Submission and Persecution

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