Welcoming a stranger or traveller was a fundamental courtesy in the ancient Near East (Gen. 18: 1–8). Grave consequences followed a violation of this custom (Judg. 8: 4–9). In the NT (Luke 7: 36–50) Simon, a Pharisee, is rebuked for his lack of appropriate care for his guests. Jesus expected his disciples to be offered hospitality when he sent them out on a mission (Mark 6: 10). Jesus' own regard for custom is by not upstaging his host: he heals only when asked (Mark 1: 30) and knows the rules of precedence (Luke 14: 8). He was sometimes offered private homes for teaching (Mark 1: 29–34).

The early Church expected its members to receive hospitality if they visited another town (Rom. 12: 13; 1 Pet. 4: 9; Acts 17: 7). Letters of commendation on behalf of travellers were exchanged amongst Church leaders (Rom. 16: 1–2; 3 John 5).