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Blog / What Does the Bible Say about Refugees and Foreigners?

What Does the Bible Say about Refugees and Foreigners?

Refugee illustrationDuring times of difficulty and confusion, the Christ-follower’s call is to find clarity through God’s divine Word. Scripture and prayer are the two main avenues by which Jesus calls us into his understanding. This is why, on World Refugee Day, we look to the Bible alone for answers.

The following verses found throughout the Old and New Testaments can help us understand and formulate our beliefs concerning those whom Scripture refers to as “the stranger,” “the foreigner,” or “the alien.”

When searching the Bible for clarification on a topic we may already have an opinion about, remember the importance of reading these words with integrity. Scripture is God-breathed and, like prayer, must be allowed to transform us.

Remember, too, to share specific verses with integrity (including this article). The Bible can be, and has been, put to misuse, especially when verses are pulled from their larger context and presented as though they were stand-alone epigrams. Bible Gateway has a couple good methods for avoiding this tendency.

  • First, as you read, click each link where you’ll be taken to the verse page with multiple translations in parallel with each other. Each translation is an attempt to capture both the idea and the accurate wording as they were originally written; but there are differences, so reading versions side-by-side can add to your understanding of the text. You can also change the translations to any combination of up to 5 different versions.
  • Second, we encourage you to take the time to read each verse reference in its broader context. You can do this on Bible Gateway with the “View Full Chapter” icon beside the verse:

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With that said, God certainly has a lot to say about refugees and foreigners, and our prayer is that we’re open to hear the words he’s saying:

1. Matthew 25:35-40

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  —(New International Version)

2. Leviticus 19:33-34

When immigrants live in your land with you, you must not cheat them. Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself, because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God. —(Common English Bible)

3. Ephesians 2:17-20

And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, —(English Standard Version)

4. 2 Chronicles 6:32-33

Moreover, concerning a foreigner, who is not of Your people Israel, but has come from a far country for the sake of Your great name and Your mighty hand and Your outstretched arm, when they come and pray in this temple; then hear from heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, that all peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this temple which I have built is called by Your name. —(New King James Version)

5. Jeremiah 22:3

The Lord proclaims: Do what is just and right; rescue the oppressed from the power of the oppressor. Don’t exploit or mistreat the refugee, the orphan, and the widow. Don’t spill the blood of the innocent in this place. —(Common English Bible)

6. Hebrews 13:2

Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! —(New Living Translation)

7. Isaiah 21:14

To the thirsty bring water;
    meet the fugitive with bread,
    O inhabitants of the land of Tema. —(English Standard Version)

8. 3 John 5-6

Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;

Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: —(King James Version)

9. Ezekiel 24:26-27

on that day, a refugee will come to you so that you yourself will hear the news. On that day your mouth will be opened to the refugee, and you will speak and no longer be silent. You will be their sign, and they will know that I am the Lord. —(Common English Bible)

10. 1 Chronicles 29:14-16

“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. —(New International Version)


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