Summary: Evidently, Paul is tired. He has already spent more than eight years on his first two missionary journeys traveling from city to city, working tirelessly, preaching the gospel, starting churches, facing opposition, sometimes even having to flee from thos
AN OPEN DOOR
Tonight I feel a little bit the way the Apostle Paul felt when he wrote the words we find in 1 Corinthians 16:5-9.
After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. 1Corinthians 16:5-9
Do you hear what he is saying? Evidently, Paul is tired. He has already spent more than eight years on his first two missionary journeys traveling from city to city, working tirelessly, preaching the gospel, starting churches, facing opposition, sometimes even having to flee from those wanting to kill him.
Now Paul is in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, and he is writing to some friends in the church at Corinth. He is saying that he would like to come and spend some time with them, maybe even spend the winter.
He sounds to me like someone who needs a vacation. And he is hoping to make it soon. But then notice what he says in vs 9, But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
Paul didn’t know it when he wrote those words, but God was opening up a great door for him in Ephesus. In fact, Paul ends up staying three years there, more than twice as long as he ever stayed any place else on his journeys.
And from what we read, God not only used Paul to start a great church in Ephesus, but while he was there, many more churches were started in the towns and cities around Ephesus. It became a center from which the gospel flowed throughout all the provinces surrounding them.
Paul saw a great door opening for him.
A Door of Opportunity
Ephesus was not exactly a place where most Christians would have wanted to settle. Yes, it was a big city, one of the major cities in the eastern Mediterranean area. It was a financial and commercial center and a very rich city.
It boasted one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Temple of Diana was there with all its gross immorality and legalized prostitution. In fact, that was a part of their worship of the goddess Diana.
It was a city where people were superstitious and believed in magic. They were constantly looking for soothsayers and fortune tellers to guide their lives. It was not a place where Christians would normally want to live.
When Paul looked at Ephesus, he saw tens of thousands of people going about their daily activities, and thought, There is an open door here and I guess I’ll stay on a while longer. He saw the opportunity that was there.
Someone said that the difference between a pessimist and an optimist is that a pessimist sees a problem in every opportunity. But an optimist sees an opportunity in every problem.