God bless you and greetings in the name of Jesus Christ whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28).
Sometimes I feel like the Blues Brothers. I’m on a mission for God, but things just seem to always get in the way. It’s not unusual to pursue something that one believes is God’s will, yet still find obstacles that attempt to keep one from doing what one thought one was supposed to do? It happens to the best of us. Paul even felt that way from time to time! Let’s just not let obstacles prevent us from following through on the will of God.
I Thessalonians 2:18:
Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again [this can mean often as well as twice]; but Satan hindered [enkoptō] us (Paul, Silas, and Timothy, the ones who wrote the epistle).
Paul wanted to visit the Thessalonians a couple times, but each time he was hindered. The Greek word for hindered is enkoptō. It a compound of en “in,” and koptō, “to cut” which often carries with it the sense of lamentation, mourning or personal loss. Together they mean “to cut into,” “impede,” “detain” “interrupt,” or “hinder.”
It was originally used to describe blocking off a road by introducing an obstacle that stands sharply in the way of any moving object. It was also used of roads so deteriorated and broken up that they were impassable. It reminds me of all the detours I’ve had to take to get around roadwork.
Paul uses enkoptō to describe what hindered him from going to see the Thessalonians. Paul definitely wanted to see them, but on both attempts he didn’t make it there. Something got in the way, and he had to rethink his trip.
Enkoptō was also used in athletic contests. It was used of a runner who when coming alongside another runner would strike him and knock him out of the race. Although he was running a good race, he was aggressively shoved out of the way and loses the lead he previously held. Enkoptō was also used in military campaigns of cutting a trench between one’s self and an advancing foe, to prevent his progress.
Although I Thessalonians was written by Paul, Silas, and Timothy, the phrase “even I Paul” is used by way of emphasis to speak to the fact that this was very personal and important to him. Although he sends Timothy to visit them, he wants to be sure they know he really wanted to come myself (I Thessalonians 3:2 & 5). He also personally acknowledged how it was specifically Satan who engineered the difficulty. At other times, Paul is clear that the changing of his plans was orchestrated by God (Act 16:6-7). These two were not.
Paul understood Satan’s devices (II Corinthians 2:11). The adversary threw obstacles in his way and tried to knock him out the race, but Paul still ran to win (I Corinthians 9:24-27). Paul was aware that Satan had specifically engineered these unforeseen and unanticipated hassles to keep him from getting to the Thessalonian church.
The primary idea of “enkoptō” is a purposeful impasse so severe that it prohibits one from going where one needs to go. However, these impasses do not last forever. In time, the attacks will cease, and the way to move ahead will became clear. Because of Paul’s great love and concern he wanted to be with the Thessalonians, and although he was hindered a couple of times, he eventually got there to see them. Therefore, we can be sure God will do the same for us. He’ll empower us and give us the wisdom we need to get where we need to go! God’s timing will always be better in the long run. Although we may be cut to the heart by our longing to be together, the time we will get will be an even greater refreshing balm.