Today, we will start with Paul's second letter to the Corinthian Church. We learn from Paul that there are opportunities to preach the Gospel (2:12), and sometimes, there are not (Acts 16:7; Rom. 15:22; 1 Thes. 2:18). From these references, we understand that "closed doors" may be the work of the Holy Spirit, or it may be that of Satan. Either way, God is in control.
Just as the Gospel was a mystery kept secret until the time of Christ (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 6:19), it is still hidden to them that are lost (2 Cor. 4:3). And again, just as both sides in the battle for souls "struggle with doors," some blindness is due to the work of Satan, and some the will of God. In Romans 11:25, it is God's will; "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." That was done so the Gentiles would have the opportunity to accept the Lord Jesus (Rom. 11:25; 16:26). Satan, on the other hand, would that every soul be blinded and eternally lost (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 4:18).
In 2 Corinthians 9:1-15, Paul was encouraging the Church to prepare for a visit by having an offering ready for those in need in other places. He indicated that giving to the poor is evidence that they had accepted the Gospel. He wrote that they may "glorify God for your professed subjection unto the Gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men" (v. 13). In other words, the Gospel not only has the power to save (Rom. 1:16), but it has the power to produce compassion for those in need.
In this, his second epistle to the Church, he was obviously disturbed that some had challenged his authority over them. In a stern rebuke, he warned them that those who opposed him would face his wrath if they did not repent prior to his return (10:1-14). I believe this clearly teaches that when one receives Christ via the Gospel, they are to submit to those in authority in the Church (Matt. 28:19-20; Heb. 13:17). Paul told them that, just as he had traveled all the way to Greece to preach the Gospel to them, he intended to go beyond them preaching the Good News about Jesus Christ (v. 16; Rom. 1:10-15).
Apparently, there were those in Corinth who accused Paul of using the Gospel to get rich. He reminded them that he had preached the Gospel to them without taking financial support from them (11:7). They obviously knew that Paul had humbly accepted support from other churches so that he was able to come to them in the past (11:7-9). It seems that those who were accusing Paul were denying his Gospel, and in its place, offering them a false Gospel (11:1-4). Paul was experiencing the life of the sower in the Lord's parable; Satan was following him around removing the seed he had sown (Matt. 13:19).
We will look at Paul's response to those who preached "another Gospel" tomorrow, when we look at his epistle to the Galatians. That is if the Lord is willing.