Studies in First Corinthians – XXIX
1 Corinthians 16:7-9
“For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.”
In the closing chapter of First Corinthians, Paul begins to write of his future plans, especially his desire to visit Corinth once again. When this is possible, he does not know because he is certain that he is presently in God’s will at Ephesus.
He gives two reason for his assurance: because God has opened a door of opportunity, and there are many adversaries. He didn’t say, “But there are many adversaries, so I think I will give up soon.” He said, “And there are many adversaries, so I will stay.” In other words, Paul saw the adversaries as an opportunity and just as much a reason for staying as God’s open door.
I trust that our mediation on this may put courage into some faltering life, strength into some soldier of the cross, and insight into all our hearts as to what an open door is, and what it demands of us. – Alan Redpath
It is important to remember that the door to Ephesus had not always been open. Just a few years ago, Paul was forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach in Asia. Many things happened before this door was finally opened. Before Paul arrived, God was going to send another preacher to break up the stoney ground. And that is exactly what He did with Apollos. Paul was ready, but he had to wait for the perfect timing of God. Ephesus was shut to Paul because Ephesus was not ready for him.
Not only did Ephesus need prepared, Paul needed some toughening up for the trials that he would face when the door was finally opened. He first had to go to a prison at Philippi and a riot in Thessalonica. Both of these experiences were needed to put spiritual courage in him for the road ahead.
Now Ephesus is ready, and Paul is ready. It is a prepared man and a prepared place. It is always a thrill to step into the place of service which is prepared for you. But when the door finally opens, what will it be like? Will it be overwhelming blessing and a life of mountain top experiences? No! In fact, for Paul, Ephesus was a trial from beginning to end. You can read about all of his adversaries in Ephesus in Acts nineteen and twenty, but he sums it up nicely for us in 1 Corinthians 15:32, “I have fought with beast at Ephesus.”
This is not really what we think of as an open door. For Paul, an open door was not synonymous with ease. It was not ease that Paul was looking for, it was opportunity: opportunity to share the Gospel and opportunity to serve the Kingdom of God.
Look for open doors, not easy doors. Never doubt that God has opened the door because you see adversaries on the other side. He never promised an easy road, but He did promise that when He opens the door, no man can shut it. Walk through the door. Trust in His plan. Seize your God-given opportunity.