1 Corinthians 16:9
For a great door and effectual is opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
Ephesus evidently had, as a scene of labour, many attractions for the ardent and fearless spirit of the Apostle Paul. Its vast population, its devotion to idolatry, the excitability of its inhabitants, all rendered it a congenial field for such a worker. And the opposition he encountered and the danger he braved, it is plain from the narrative, made him feel the city all the more to be an honourable and attractive post for a bold and faithful soldier of Jesus Christ.
I. THE OPPORTUNITY OF SERVICE FOR CHRIST REPRESENTED IN THIS FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE. A door offers the means of admittance to a house, and an open door invites approach and entrance. In Scripture a door is often used to express the opportunity to do God's will and advance his cause. So here, the apostle represents by this figurative language the summons which Providence addressed to him to evangelize this great city of Asia Minor. The citizens and visitors were numerous, the idolatry and vice which prevailed were flagrant, human sorrows and difficulties and temptations abounded; so that there was abundant room for evangelistic and pastoral labour. Further, there seems to have been in some quarters a remarkable and gratifying readiness to hear the gospel of Christ.
II. THE HINDRANCES TO SERVICE FOR CHRIST HERE ALLUDED TO.
1. Observe from what quarters it came. The narrative in the Book of the Acts makes it evident that opposition to Christian preaching arose from both Jews and Gentiles. On different grounds sinful men oppose the truth. It always has been so. It was so in the time of our Lord, and the disciple, the servant, must not expect or desire to be above his Master.
2. Observe what forms it took. Slander and secret misrepresentation was one way in which adversaries sought to hinder the truth. And another was open hostility and violence. This we know to have been put in motion at Ephesus against the apostle. The ignorant and impassioned mob was stirred up to oppose the work of Paul; in this sense, at all events, he fought with beasts at Ephesus.
III. THE COMPATIBILITY OF GREAT OPPORTUNITIES AND MANY ADVERSARIES. It is certainly a paradoxical statement. Yet reflection will show that there is no real inconsistency.
1. Hindrances, calumnies, serve to draw attention to any cause, and the gospel is sure to profit by anything which leads men to inquire into it.
2. These obstacles serve to test the quality of the labourers, and to bring out courage and resolution and patience where such qualities are required.
3. They always answer a valuable purpose in testing the sincerity of the converts. Times of persecution are times of testing.
IV. THE ATTRACTION THIS COMBINATION HAD FOR THE APOSTLE.
1. It called forth and employed his many and remarkable powers.
2. It enabled him to realize his fellowship with his Master.
3. It promised great results of spiritual good.
1. Enter in, Christian labourers, at every open door!
2. Be fearless of adversaries! - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.