Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia
(II Cor. 2:12-13)
In some of my recent articles I have written about the ministry of the open door. In considering this subject I have focused our attention on experiences in the life of the apostle Paul.
When we looked at some of Paul’s words in Colossians 4 we saw that he directed the believers in that church to pray for an open door of ministry for him. In the second article in the series, based on 1 Corinthians 16:8-9, we found something that may have been a surprise to some readers; open doors may also contain opposition.
So, thus far in our series we have seen Paul, in the first text looking for an open door and in the second one laboring in the midst of one. The passage that we are going to focus on today is a bit different.
In 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 we read these words, “Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia” (NIV).
According to this text Paul walked away from an open door of ministry!
The fact that Paul walked away from this ministry, a door that he acknowledges the Lord opened for him, may be disturbing to some of us. It seems contrary to Paul’s usual stance regarding open doors. He sought prayer for them and walked through them when they become available to him. Why then would he walk away from this particular open door?
In verse 13 Paul tells us why he did not stay and labor in this area that God had opened to him, he left because did not find his coworker, Titus. We may question whether he should have done this or not. However, Paul tells us that this is what he did. At the time when he wrote the verses that we are considering today he had already left that field of ministry. It was by then a matter of history. This leaves us with the question: Are there any positive lessons that we can learn from what he did?
I think that there are at least two positive lessons that we can learn from these verses. First, because there is an opportunity, an open door for ministry doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to take it. Paul did not walk away from ministry completely; he walked away from this one particular ministry, but he went on to serve the Lord somewhere else.
Second, from this text we learn the importance of relationships in the body of Christ. Paul left Troas because he did not find his friend, and coworker, Titus. As believers in Christ we are to be concerned about one another; there are many scriptures that bear this out.
I think that it is perhaps especially important to be concerned about people who labor together with us in ministry. They too are engaged in the spiritual warfare of trying to plant and expand the kingdom of God on earth. May the Lord grant each of us wisdom and discernment as we seek to follow and serve Him.
John P. Lathrop - United States
John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.