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What the Bible says about welcoming outsiders

Last updated 11/12/14


Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers,
for by doing so some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13: 1–2

Some biblical sources:

Who is my neighbour? Luke 10 25–37
How to treat a foreigner Leviticus 19 33–34
How foreigners can be a blessing The book of Ruth
Justice love and fellowship Micah 6: 8
Treating others as we treat the Lord Matthew 25: 31–46
The gift of hospitality Hebrews 13: 2
Breaking down barriers Ephesians 2: 11–22
For full texts see: http://www.biblegateway.com/

See also Christian Voices

Reflections on what the Bible says

Reflections on what the Bible says

Repentance, humility, inclusion and advocacy


At the EMBRACE Annual General Meeting in 2004 Sr Brighde Vallely (then EMBRACE Vice-Chairperson) reflected how, in John’s Gospel, while Peter warmed himself by a charcoal fire, in the in-group, Jesus was in the outgroup, among the demonised. After the resurrection, it was Jesus who cooked breakfast on a charcoal fire for the disciples, and Peter, following his earlier denials of Christ, had the opportunity to make his threefold response to Jesus’ question: “Do you love me?”
Brighde then asked ‘So what must we do?’ and answered:

  • Repent of sectarianism, racism and prejudice
  • Wash the feet of others
  • Churches and church communities should be communities of the inclusive charcoal fire
  • Be informed and learn to ask the right questions, of churches, politicians and policymakers

Embracing the Stranger
God is portrayed in the scriptures as identifying with fallen and broken humanity. God revealed Himself as the God of the outsider when He intervened in the lives of the Israelites in Egypt. His liberation of His people from their oppression displayed His commitment to the marginalized and the vulnerable. And it is this concern, compassion and commitment that God holds up as a blueprint for His followers. Read more

Resources for discussion, study and response

Irish Churches recognised the biblical imperative to practice hospitality, inclusiveness, advocacy, and the importance of promoting intercultural dialogue when they endorsed the Irish Churches Affirmations on Migration, Diversity and Interculturalism in 2009. Individual churches are to report back in 2010.
Hard copies can be obtained from the EMBRACE office, the Inter-Church Centre, or the Parish Integration Project.

What the Bible says About the Stranger: Biblical Perspectives on Racism, Migration, Asylum  and Cross-Community Issues Second Revised and Expanded Edition, Kieran J. O’Mahony OSA, 2009

There are some Biblical Reflections in Inter-Cultural Insights: A series of Christian Reflections on Racism, Hospitality and Identity from the Island of Ireland. All-Ireland Churches’ Consultative Meeting on Racism/ Irish Inter-Church Meeting, 2006

The Dublin-based Parish Integration Project Unity and Diversity in our Churches, 2008, compiled by Adrian Cristea, along with Alan Martin, Robert Cochran and Tony Walsh, contains some Bible studies.

Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Racial Justice Resources
include theological and practical considerations about asylum and immigration.

Bible resources for migrants

The United Bible Societies has produced an illustrated resource, On the Road: a Journey through the Bible for Migrants, put together by the French Bible Society, in conjunction with a group of migrant people. It is a combination of Bible stories, prayers and personal experiences and suggested questions for discussion. It could be used for personal or group work, by migrants, or local people – or to help bring them together.

The Bible Society(27 Howard Street Belfast, Tel : 028 9032 6577, E-mail : gsec@bsni.co.uk) stocks Bibles in 50 languages, including some children’s editions, and can order up scriptures in 100 languages. Some bi-lingual texts are available.