1Co 16:8-11 “But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.”
As Paul relays his plans to the Corinthians to come and spend time with them, he further details his labor in the Lord. Here he shares that it is his intention to remain at Ephesus until the observance of Pentecost. He further outlines that this is not just some wish or whim on his part.
There has been a mighty entrance (great door) opened for Paul at Ephesus. With the opening of this door, he has been granted a powerful witness to the Ephesians. Note that Paul did not say he had opened a great door, but rather that a great door had been opened unto him. As messengers of the gospel of God’s grace, we are never able to open great doors on our own.
We have no greatness in ourselves that we can boast of. This was something that Paul was always careful to avoid the appearance of, referring to himself as the chief of sinners and least of the apostles. If ever we find great and effectual doors opened, we should immediately recognize before all that this was something that was done to us by the grace of God. We should never presume to take credit for the wonderful work that He performs for us in our lives.
Looking at the life a Paul, we find in it the truth of Jesus’ admonishment that we would have tribulation in this world, but peace in Him. Paul declares in the same statement about this great and effectual door being opened that there are many adversaries. It has always been this way in Paul’s life: everywhere he was blessed to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ with power, he encountered adversity. It should come as no surprise to us to meet with adversity if we are truly standing for the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.
Among His many assurances, Jesus assured us that if they had hated Him they would also hate us. While our Adam nature detests rejection, when brought under subjection to the Spirit, we find a measure of peace in being reviled by the world. It has ever been the case with the Lord’s witnesses that when we are being effectual by His grace, His adversaries will rise up against us.
Paul also gave the Corinthian brothers charge concerning Timothy, that they should greet him as a brother and fellow-servant. He should be regarded as one who labored in the kingdom of God even as Paul also labored. It was Paul’s expectation that Timothy would not be arriving among a group of people who were still bickering about who they were patterned after (1Co 1:12).
Knowing that Timothy was young and of mixed parentage (his mother was a Jew and his father a Gentile), he repeated to them something he had also counseled to Timothy. It was unacceptable to Paul that they should ignore (despise) Timothy as being of no consequence in God’s service (1Ti 4:12). We need to always remember that it is God that calls and qualifies men to do the work of the Lord. It is not for us to set reject any that the Lord has called and sent.
Finally, Paul tells the church at Corinth that he not only expects them to treat Timothy well, but to help him on his journey. As the church, we need to always be ready to help the servants that God sends to us, even if we are just a stop along the way. Although Timothy was apparently not coming to them to stay with them, it was good that they should encourage him on his journey to help others (Paul included).
May God bless us to always pray for, and be ready to step through, every effectual door that is opened for us, giving no heed to the adversaries and always seeking the welfare of our brethren!