Scripture references to foreigners and strangers
Judaism: Hebrew Scriptures (Christian Old Testament)
As the Hebrews developed their community around their unique belief in one God, they faced neighboring peoples who believed in many gods and who created statues and other artistic depictions of these gods. Leaders of the Hebrews admonished their people to keep themselves apart from such influences. Celebration of the Passover, the holiday that commemorates the Hebrews’ escape from slavery in Egypt, was particularly important, and reserving it for the Hebrew community was believed to be vital.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance for the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, but any slave who has been purchased may eat of it after he has been circumcised; no found or hired servant may eat of it. …The whole congregation of Israel shall celebrate it. If an alien who resides with you wants to celebrate the Passover to the Lord, all his males shall be circumcised; then he may draw near to celebrate it; he shall be regarded as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it; there shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.
Exodus 12:43-45, 47-49
You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Christianity: New Testament
Christianity, believing that it had a message for all peoples everywhere, reached out to non-members because they might become converts. The following passages were written by early Christian leaders as the new religion was beginning to attract attention of the many groups of people of the Roman Empire.
Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
In the law it is written,
“By people of strange tongues
and by the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people;
Yet even then they will not
listen to me,”
says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.
Source: The New Oxford Annotated Bible, edited by Bruce M. Metzger and Roland E. Murphy, New Revised Standard Version (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). Note on copyright page allows up to 500 verses to be copied without permission of the publisher.
Islam: The Qu’ran
Islam teaches that Muhammad was the final and great prophet, completing messages and teachings that people had received since ancient times. Judaism and Christianity, therefore, were preludes to Islam. The Qu’ran contains these teachings of Muhammad.
Today the unbelievers have despaired of
your religion; therefore fear them not,
but fear you Me.
Today I have perfected your religion
for you, and I have completed My blessing
upon you, and I have approved Islam for
The unbelievers, though they possessed all
that is in the earth, and the like of it with it,
to ransom themselves from the chastisement
of the Day of Resurrection thereby, it would
not be accepted of them; for them awaits
a painful chastisement.
O believers, take not Jews and Christians
as friends; they are friends of each other.
Whoso of you makes them his friends
is one of them. God guides not the people
of the evildoers….
and the believers will say, ‘What, are these
the ones who swore by God most earnest oaths
that they were with you? Their works have failed,
now they are losers.’
Chapter V, The Table (portion)
In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Say: ‘O unbelievers,
I serve not what you serve
and you are not serving what I serve
nor am I serving what you have served,
neither are you serving what I serve.
To you your religion, and to me my religion!’
Chapter CIX, The Unbelievers (entire)
Source: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A. J. Arberry (New York: Touchstone, 1996). ©1955 by George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
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