Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. — 1 Thessalonians 2:18
Have you ever pursued something that you believed was God’s will, yet obstacles seemed to keep you from doing what you thought you were supposed to do? If you have, don’t feel alone, because many people have been in that same position! Even the apostle Paul felt this way from time to time! But what should you do in times like these?
Today I want you to particularly notice the word “hindered” in the verse above. It comes from the Greek word egkopto, an old word that was originally used to describe a road so deteriorated and broken up that it was impassable.
Have you ever driven down a road on your way to your destination, only to discover that the road you’re driving on is too full of ruts and holes to continue your journey? As a result, you have to turn around, go back, and find another route to get where you are going. Well, that is exactly the image the word egkopto portrays to us!
Paul uses this word to describe hindering forces that kept him from going to see the Thessalonians. There is no doubt that this means Paul was on his way to see them — not once, he says, but twice. But the journey became so filled with danger and unexpected bumps that Paul had to turn around, go back, and rethink his strategy on how he was going to get to the church at Thessalonica. Can you think of a time when you encountered something like this in your own journey?
But the word egkopto means even more than this! It was also used in Greek times in an athletic sense. It was used to portray the moment when a runner comes alongside another runner and literally elbows him out of the race. Although the second runner was running a good race, he is shoved out of the way by the aggression of his fellow runner. As a result of this action, the runner who was elbowed loses the leading edge he previously held.
This categorically means that Paul understood Satan’s tactics. The enemy had tried to make use of dangerous and unexpected bumps along the way to throw Paul off track and to elbow him out of his spiritual race. In fact, Paul was convinced that Satan had specifically engineered these unforeseen and unanticipated hassles to keep him from getting to the Thessalonian church.
When these two ideas are combined together, the primary idea of the word “hindered” becomes that of an impasse so severe that it prohibits you from going where you need to go or an aggressor who unkindly elbows you off course in your spiritual race.
Paul is actually saying:
“…Satan created an impasse that kept me from coming to see you.”
“…Satan put obstructions in my path to prevent me from getting to you.”
“…Satan cut in on me and prohibited me from visiting you as I wanted to do.”
“…Satan tried to elbow his way in on me to keep me from coming to see you.”
When something happens that seems to prohibit you from doing the will of God, remember that you are not the first to encounter such difficulties. Others have been in the same quandary. In time, however, the devil’s attack ceased, and the way for them to move ahead became clear. In the same way, you can be sure that God is going to empower you and give you the wisdom you need to get where you need to go!
Don’t despair — the story isn’t over yet! Don’t throw in the towel and give in just because you’ve hit some kind of impasse. The devil has never had the last word on anything, and he isn’t going to have the last word on this situation either. Regardless of what the devil has tried to do, it’s time for you to remember that what God promised SHALL come to pass as you hold fast to your faith in Him!
Rick Renner is a prolific author and a highly respected Bible teacher and leader in the international Christian community. He is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestsellers Dressed To Kill and Sparkling Gems From the Greek.
In 1992, Rick and his family moved to what is now the former Soviet Union. Two years later, he and his wife Denise founded the Riga Good News Church in Latvia before moving on to Moscow in 2000 to found the Moscow Good News Church. In 2007, the Renners also launched the Kyiv Good News Church in the capital of Ukraine. Today, Rick serves as Bishop for this group of churches.
In addition, Rick and Denise pioneered a Bible school, and a ministerial association that serves thousands of Russian-speaking pastors throughout the former USSR as well as parts of the Middle East.
Rick also founded Media Mir, the first Christian television network established in the former USSR. Its broadcast capabilities via terrestrial stations in Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova, and as well by satellite means millions of people are reached with these messages. It has since expanded into book publishing and managing social media accounts. Website: Renner.org