Door Openers

John LathropBlog

In ministry we sometimes speak about open doors. There are precedents for this terminology in the Bible. The apostle Paul, on a number of occasions, made references to open doors with regard to his ministry. In 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 he spoke about a door which had opened for him in the city of Ephesus. Because of this ministry opportunity he planned to stay in the city for a while. In 2 Corinthians 2:12 he spoke about an open door in Troas. In this verse he specifically says that it was the Lord who opened this door for him. However, he did not stay to minister there! In the next verse he tells us why: He did not find Titus there. And in Colossians 4:3 he asked the believers in Colossae to pray for an open door for the message of Christ so that he and his coworkers could share it. Here again we see that God is the one who provides the open door. God’s involvement in open doors is further brought out in the book of Revelation. In Revelation 3:7-8, we are told that Jesus is the one who provided an open door for the church in Philadelphia. God is the author of open doors!

However, it is worth noting that none of these texts, which speak about open doors, tells us how these doors came to be open, we are not given specific details. He probably moved differently in each of the places referred to in the Scriptures cited above. The majority of these texts very likely concerned evangelism, but I believe the Lord opens doors in other contexts as well. I submit to you that one of the ways that the Lord opens doors is through people. In the remainder of this article we will look at some texts that do not specifically refer to open doors, but which clearly show us examples of how God prospers His followers through the actions of other people.

The first example comes from the Old Testament, from the very first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. In Genesis 37 Joseph was given two dreams, one about sheaves of grain bowing down to his sheave of grain and one about the sun, moon, and stars bowing down to him. His family members understood the message of the dreams, apparently without any outside help, and they did not like the message! They understood that the dreams indicated that Joseph would be prominent and would rule over them. After these dreams Joseph experienced a number of apparent setbacks. He was sold into slavery by his brothers (Gen. 37) and afterwards imprisoned when falsely accused of sexual impropriety by Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39). Joseph’s dreams were turning into a nightmare!

While he was in prison he met two men, one was a cupbearer and the other was a baker (Gen. 40). The two men had dreams and Joseph interpreted their dreams for them. What Joseph said came true, the cupbearer was restored to his position and the baker was killed. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him when he was restored to his position (Gen. 40:14), but he did not at that time (Gen. 40:23). However, two years later he remembered Joseph and mentioned him to Pharaoh after Pharaoh had a dream (Gen. 41). The Lord used the cupbearer to help open the door for Joseph (literally, the prison door). The cupbearer had access to Pharaoh and Joseph did not, he did for Joseph what he could not do for himself, he provided him access to Pharaoh by speaking to Pharaoh about him. Because of the cupbearer’s actions Joseph’s life took a turn for the better and it seemed that he was back on track to fulfill the dreams he had received in Genesis 37. Joseph became second in command in Egypt (Gen. 41) and his family did in fact bow down to him as he had seen in his dreams (Gen. 42:6). In spite of the adverse circumstances, what God had shown Joseph came true.

The second example comes from the New Testament. This case involved opening another literal door, one in a barracks! In Acts 23 the apostle Paul was in trouble; he was being held in custody. While he was there over 40 Jews bound themselves with an oath to kill him; they said that they would not eat or drink until they had accomplished their plan (Acts 23:12-13). They tried to get Paul transferred from the barracks to the Sanhedrin under the guise of getting more information regarding his case. However, someone who did not endorse their plan, happened to hear about it. This person was Paul’s nephew (Acts 23:16). Talk about Divine Sovereignty! The young man heard about the plot, told Paul, and Paul arranged for him to be brought to the commander. He shared the news with the commander and as a result, Paul was moved from the barracks, but he was not brought to the Sanhedrin, instead, he was sent to another city! The governmental authorities protected his life. This was in keeping with what the Lord had earlier said to Paul. He told Paul that he would speak about Him in Rome (Acts 23:11). Paul’s deliverance out of this dangerous situation was set in motion by a family relative, his nephew, who relayed some information that he had become aware of.

I am certain that many other Scriptural examples could be found. The two that I have mentioned share a couple of things in common. First, we do not know the names of either of the people who “opened the doors” in the biblical accounts cited above; we do not know the name of the cupbearer who helped Joseph, nor do we know the name of Paul’s nephew. Second, both of these unknown individuals did for the main characters in the biblical passages what they could not do for themselves. These “door openers” had mobility and access that the prisoners did not have. There have been many people throughout history that the Lord had used whose names we do not know. And, as was true in the cases above they came to the front when the servants of God were in trouble. These “unsung” heroes helped set free two men who did much to help many other people.
God opens doors to further His purposes and He sometimes works through people in order to do it. He can use both believers and unbelievers in this work. The Lord can still do it in our day. I am sure that if we each took the time to look back over our lives we would be able to identify individuals that the Lord sent our way at key times. Let us appreciate those who have remembered us, spoken up for us, and helped us to fulfill the purposes for which the Lord called us. No one goes very far in ministry without the help of others.

John P. Lathrop

John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Zion Bible Institute and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies. He has written articles and book reviews for a number of publications including: the Pneuma Review, the Africanus Journal of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Christian Trends Magazine, in India, and Berita Mujizat and Jurnal Jaffray, both in Indonesia. He is also the author of four books.