“Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.”” Gen. 19:1-2(a)
In Genesis 18, three angels visit Abraham, at least two of them depart in 18:22 and head toward Sodom, and here we see them entering the city. Plaut, in his commentary, notes that the distance is too far for men to travel within the short time allotted (about 40 miles in an afternoon from what I can gather) but as they are angels this distance is not an obstacle.
The angels come as witnesses to seal the guilt of Sodom. Just as God came down to witness the tower of Babel in progress (11:5), the same is done here as God declares in 18:21, to confirm if the wickedness is truly worthy of judgment.
Lot is sitting in the city gate. This implies he held some prominent position within the city. Generally even those that are wicked recognize virtue in those that are more righteous, and this likely caused Lot have to favor with the town elders. We know Lot himself was a sojourner, as he and Abraham were probably born in Ur, and we also know that Sodom was not typically fond of strangers, so Lot had to overcome this with the Sodomites. The fact that Lot had much property (Gen. 13:5-6) probably aided his position since he could help the local economy, instead of strain it as someone less fortunate may.
Lot rises to meet them and bows, and offers them to stay at his house and wash their feet before continuing on their journey. Note the parallels with Genesis 18:1-4: Abraham is at the entrance to his tent (Lot at the entrance to the city), Abraham also bows, invites the angels into his place, and offers water to wash their feet. In both cases a feast is also prepared. As Lot was raised in part by Abraham, it appears he learned about hospitality from Abraham, though hospitality was an important aspect of the culture at that time.
Lot’s quick offer of hospitality may have been natural reaction, but may also have been done in concern for the angels’ safety. Lot knew the men of the city were wicked. He also implies the angels would need to be on their way early in the morning, perhaps so no one would find out he helped them out.