New Testament

"Asia" in the New Testament

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, …” Acts 16:6, KJV

I have heard with my own ears more than one preacher quote this verse as certain proof that “if the Holy Spirit hadn’t stopped Paul from going to Asia, we’d have had to get the gospel from the Chinese.” The one instance that stands out most of these several involved the featured speaker at a missions conference a decade ago. This man was a Bible college graduate, had been 20 years in the ministry, and was (and is) a denominational bigwig.

Why this incident stands out is that a man of such training and experience should have known that the assertion he made was completely devoid of any basis in fact, as even a meager amount of study and thought would have immediately shown. The truth is, Paul later did preach in Asia, and for a period of more than two years. Not only so, he evangelized the whole of it and saw many churches started there, all without coming in contact with a single Chinese.

The problem involves the meaning of the name Asia. Of course, today the term includes that great land mass east of the Ural Mountains in Russia in the north, and east of the Caspian, Aegean, Mediterranean and Red Seas further to the south. This, the largest of the seven continents, is also the most populous. But what a geographical term means today and what it meant in Bible times may have little or no connection, and “Asia” is one glaring example of this. Read more about "Asia" in the New Testament

An Overview of the New Perspective on Paul

Reprinted, with permission, from Faith Pulpit (May/June 2010).

I have had a couple of opportunities to be on camera in front of a “green screen.” The camera captures your image and ignores the green background. It is a great experience because you can project yourself on screen into any number of backgrounds. At one moment you can be skiing in the Alps; the next, you can be surfing on the North Shore. You stay the same, only the background changes. This is the same technology that weather reporters use in their studios to show the weather map.

In an odd kind of way, the green screen illustrates what the New Perspective on Paul is all about. The New Perspective on Paul, however, is not really first and foremost about Paul at all. It is about Paul’s background (i.e., Second Temple Judaism). When you change the background on the green screen from mountains to ocean, people interpret the image in a completely different way. In a similar way, New Perspective scholars are reinterpreting Paul in a variety of different ways because their perception of his background of first-century Judaism has changed. Read more about An Overview of the New Perspective on Paul