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.1 Corinthians 16:8-9 NIV
As Paul concluded this letter to the Corinthian church, he added a bit about his upcoming plans. He was planning on staying in Ephesus until Pentecost, and then would be going to Jerusalem. On the way he hoped to pass through a number of places, including Corinth, collecting an offering for the church in Jerusalem.
But he gave two reasons for saying in Ephesus a bit longer. And they seem, on the surface at least, to be contrary reasons. On the one hand, a great door for effective work had been opened to him. We can easily get on board with this one. I want to hang around where the Lord’s hand is obviously at work. And especially if I am able to have an active part in it.
There Were Many Who Opposed Him
His second reason is a bit more challenging. He planned on staying because there were many who opposed him. That would seem to go along with his earlier comment in 1 Corinthians 15:32 that he had fought wild beasts in Ephesus. And with Luke’s mention of the riot caused by his work in Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41). Why would Paul want to hang on where he was facing such opposition? I can think of a couple of reasons. First is that he considered suffering for the sake of Jesus to be a blessing (Phil. 1:29). And, secondly, that opposition was really a sign that the work he was doing was being effective. It was precisely because of the effectiveness of the Lord’s work in Ephesus that he was facing so much opposition.
Paul’s model here is a good one for us. Do not be discouraged if, as you do the Lord’s work, you face opposition from the world. We should expect it. Count it as a blessing. And as a sign that God is indeed at work there. Look for that great door for effective work that God has opened to you and march through it.