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Washing The Feet Of Angels

Angels are spiritual beings so how can humans wash their feet?

As humans, we all, and even our household pets must wash our hands, feet and our entire body to cleanse them of dirt, grime, and germs and to keep us fresh.

The Centers for Disease Control state that washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs.

It must be done on a regular basis in the homes, workplaces, and hospitals. We understand the importance of hand washing but,

How important is washing the feet?

We are generally aware that it is not comfortable to walk on the street barefooted. Hence, we spend hundreds of dollars in the shoe stores.

We wear shoes because we want our feet to be protected from sharp objects and insect bites.

We wear shoes for aesthetic reasons – our feet look great in shoes especially high heels for the ladies and the latest sports sneakers for the men.

But most importantly, we can acquire infection and diseases through the pores of the skin of our bare feet from the ground.

Hookworm larvae live in the soil in areas where there are poor sanitary conditions such as garbage, urine and fecal matter from animals and humans.

These larvae penetrate the skin and travel through the bloodstream to the lungs and intestines resulting in abdominal infection and diarrhea.

The life cycle of the hookworm (Centers for Disease Control)

Other larvae found in the soil are threadworm or pinworm in wet tropical areas causing an infection called strongyloidiasis; hookworm larvae from domestic animals causing creeping eruptions in the skin.

Jigger fleas are found in areas of central and South America and West Africa. The fleas penetrate and nested under the skin and toenails of the feet causing inflammation and ulceration (Tungiasis). Gangrene can result if left untreated.

Tetanus can result from wounds on the feet from outdoor sporting activities, insect bites and rusty metals penetrating the skin of the feet. (Walking Barefoot).

Any injury or scrapes on the feet can become deadly if untreated and bacterial infection settled in especially in diabetic patients.

If you are Diabetic read more about caring for your feet at Diabetes Self-Management.

You always wear your shoes so you are fully protected!

Not necessarily!

Many of us wear shoes outside but wear these same shoes inside our homes thus transferring germs to the carpet or floors of our homes. We then walk barefoot in our homes.

The risk of contracting the above diseases in our homes are less but the risk is still possible.

Some cultures such as the Asians remove their shoes before entering their homes. Other people have a mudroom or entryway where they transfer their outdoor shoes to indoor slippers.

These are excellent hygiene practices but the best way to remove contamination of germs from your feet is to wash them.

The physical significance of washing feet

1. Hospitality and Cleanliness

The ancient Israelites’ custom was to wash their hands and feet before entering the house and before eating. They also washed the feet of strangers or visitors to their homes. It was a hospitable act.

The Lord appeared to Abraham in the form of three strangers.

Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent relaxing, possibly taking a nap because it was very hot. Suddenly he opened his eyes and there appeared beside him were three men.

Abraham did not see where the men came from but he immediately recognized that they were messengers/angels from God.

However, the Bible recorded that the Lord, not angels, appeared to Abraham. Hence these men represented the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Immediately upon seeing these strangers, Abraham did not question their origin nor chased them away but hastily rushed to greet them bowing in reverence and invited them inside his home.

He offered the men water to drink and to wash their feet so that they were refreshed (Genesis 18).

Then the Lord appeared to him (Abraham) by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)

How many of us in today’s society would do this? Considering the rate of crimes in our society we would not welcome strangers. The natural thing for us to do is to call the police.

There is nothing wrong with doing this because God understands the present world we are living in and so most likely will not appear to us in this manner.

Abraham was courteous to the strangers and received reinforcement of God’s promise that he would have a son in his old age.

Abraham was also included in God’s plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

Read other stories in the Bible of people who offered hospitality by the washing of feet and were blessed (Genesis 19; 24:32; 43:24; Judges 19:22)

2. Intimacy

The Israelites men/women washed their feet before intimacy with their wives/husbands.

An example of this is when David told Uriah to go home and wash his feet because he wanted Uriah to sleep with his wife to pin the pregnancy of his wife who had committed adultery with David on him (2 Samuel 11:8).

Songs of Solomon states that the Shulamite woman was reluctant to get down from her bed to open the door to her beloved because she had already washed her feet and she did not want to defile them on the ground. Anyway, when she finally went to open the door, her beloved had already left (Solomon 5:3-5).

3. Purification

Before the priests ministered at the altar in the Temple, they were required to wash their hands and feet with water. If they did not perform this function before offering the sacrifices they would die (Exodus 30:17-21; 40:31).

4. Vengeance

The Lord will wash His feet in the blood of the wicked. This action demonstrates the vengeance of God against the enemy (Psalms 58:10).

5. Brokenness and Repentance 

The sinful woman washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped His feet with her hair. Then she kissed His feet and anointed them with an expensive bottle of ointment.

This woman recognized that Jesus had the authority to forgive her sins. Her actions were demonstrating both repentance and gratitude (Luke 7:39-50).

The spiritual significance of washing feet.

While Christ was on earth He deliberately did not adhere to many of the strict traditions of Jews. Jesus wanted to teach us that although the physical way of doing things was good, the spiritual significance was more important.

For example, the scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus’ disciples of not washing their hands before eating.

As noted earlier, washing of hands and feet before eating were strict traditions of the Jews.

However, Jesus told the Pharisees and scribes that it was not what you eat that defiled you but what is released out of your mouth from your heart.

Evil thoughts such as murders, adulteries, blasphemy, and deceits are in the heart and when they are released out of your mouth they will defile you and not eating with unwashed hands.

If you eat without washing your hands, you may pick up germs which will affect the physical body, not your spirit, which is more important than the body.

Later, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet after they had the Passover Supper and not before. Why?

Jesus deliberately reversed the Jewish custom because He wanted to emphasize the spiritual significance of feet washing (John 13).

Jesus was about to become the final sacrifice for our sins on the cross. After the resurrection, He took His own blood to the Holy place in the Temple of God in heaven to make restitution for our sins. He became our ultimate High Priest (Hebrews 9).

Thus, Jesus demonstrated that when He spiritually washes our feet, He cleanses and purifies us. We are then drawn into an intimate relationship with God in His secret place where He will reveal revelation to us.

Jesus washed His disciples’ feet to show His great love for them and to draw them into a more intimate relationship with Him. But, the physical washing of their feet did not make them spiritually clean as seen in Judas who betrayed Jesus and Peter who denied Him.

 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:14-15)

Jesus clearly told us to follow His example. Therefore, to demonstrate our gratitude to Christ for spiritually washing our feet, we need to wash our brothers’ and sisters’ feet both spiritually and physically, not as a formal doctrine but as a means of fellowshipping with each other to build brotherly love and unity.

Feet washing is highly recommended in the homes especially between husband and wife to build intimacy and to show gratitude and forgiveness to each other.


Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. (Hebrews 13:2)

Washing the feet of angels means, be nice and courteous to your brethren and also your neighbor.

Who is your neighbor?

Strangers and foreigners who cross your path (Luke 10:25-37).

Read also: Significance of the oil and wine.

Over to you!

Do you practice feet washing at your church?

What is your view on this practice?

Have you ever entertain angels unaware?



    • So true. Sometimes we are so caught up in the physical aspect of washing feet we neglect the spiritual implications. We also need to love each other. Thank you for your input. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

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