Original Research

Shifting negative migrant categories to encourage embrace and inclusivity: Perspective from Matthew 22:34–40

Christopher Magezi
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 1 | a2664 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i1.2664 | © 2021 Christopher Magezi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 July 2020 | Published: 30 March 2021

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Christopher Magezi, Unit for Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Vanderbijlpark, South Africa

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Despite extensive theological research that has been conducted in response to the various challenges that are faced by international migrants, labelling is still prevalent. Derogatory stereotypes, names, categories and other labels continue to be used at the expense of foreigners, thus precipitating xenophobia. With the above-mentioned plight of international migrants in mind, the objective of this article is to respond to the ongoing challenge in which they are derisively labelled. The use of such derogatory stereotypes arguably exposes the migrants to many forms of discrimination, which mostly culminate in xenophobic violence. This article pays special attention to Matthew 22:34–40 as a critical text in developing a theological thinking that can shift negative categories in order to encourage the embrace and inclusion of migrants. Methodologically, this article is literature-based. The article begins by identifying the problem statement and then interacts with the aforementioned biblical text and pertinent literature in order to draw some theological implications to the identified challenge. Matthew 22:34–40 reveals how the God-man, Jesus Christ, confronts the limited definition which the Jews ascribe to the term neighbour. According to the skewed belief of the Jews, their neighbours were exclusively compatriot Jews. However, Jesus’ conception of the term neighbour is inclusive of all fellow human beings because they are all created in the image of God and are the objects of God’s love. Given the aforesaid, the article concludes by contending that before people designate derogatory stereotypes and labels that precipitate xenophobia, it is imperative to recognise each other, not only as neighbours but also as the bearers of God’s image and objects of divine love.

Contribution: In this way, the contribution of this article is embedded in utilising Matthew 22:34–40 as an attempt to develop a theological thinking that shifts negative migrant categories to encourage embrace and inclusion.


international migrants; migrants; church; political labels; stereotypes; Matthew 22:34–40; image of God; shifting negative migrant categories; embrace and inclusivity; theological thinking.


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