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Foreigner, you have the face of a Rich Man...



I remember arriving to Shanghai, China, not for a vacation or a visit, but to live as a foreigner.


Overnight our lives had turned upside down as my husband began a new position. Only having six weeks to pack, find a school for our youngest, help three older children prepare for college, say goodbye to family and friends, and undergo knee surgery, I arrived exhausted. The sights, the sounds, the smells, the hubbub, felt wild. Utterly foreign. Without speaking or reading Mandarin, I heard only babble and saw only babble. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, was strange: the language, the money, the food, the grocery stores, the government, the gods, the culture, even the eating utensils were different!


This was foreign territory.

The obvious included this: I don’t look Chinese. Not one bit. I occasionally asked God, “You knew ahead of time that I would live in China, why didn’t You design me to fit in with a tiny frame, beautiful dark glossy hair and golden skin?” No matter where I went I could not hide my western looks or culture. Our driver liked to tell me:


“Madam, you have the face of a rich man [person].”

Yes, this was foreign territory, but the reality was this: I was the foreigner, the alien, the one who was strange.

No one needs to move to China to enter foreign territory. Whether cancer, job loss, death of a loved one, divorce, depression, COVID, or any other trial we bump up against send us into foreign territory with sights, sounds, and smells that feel wild. Strange. Foreign. Uncomfortable. Painful. And sometimes lonely.

This alienation appears to be the state of affairs for the recipients addressed in Peter’s letter.

In today's blog, I share my teaching notes for I Peter 1. Rather than zeroing in on the inductive study details and answering the who, what, where, when, how and why questions (which I often do in daily videos), I'll share a big picture overview of the text.


Specifically, I’d like us to understand this chapter based on our three rules for studying NT letters referenced a couple of weeks ago:

  1. Remember the 1st century context.

  2. Understand their problem.

  3. Identify the main point.

Beginning in verse 1, Peter’s greeting is "textbook" for a letter of the 1st c. Hellenistic time period. If you’ve been a