Here’s a bit of trivia I’ll bet you find surprising: The word “opportunity” is not found in the New American Standard translation of the Old Testament. I thought I would locate it in Psalms or Proverbs, at least, maybe Ecclesiastes…but the first mention of “opportunity” is actually in the Gospel of Matthew.
That was such an unexpected discovery, I followed up with an online Bible search for its close cousin, “opportune.” Nope. Not in the Old Testament.
Now, maybe It’s just me being a Bible nerd of sorts…but I find that fascinating. In fact, I found it so fascinating I also looked for “opportunity” using the King James Version of the Bible. Nada. Zip. Ye may search, but ye locate naught.
Merriam-Webster.com defines “opportunity” as “an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done.” An additional definition states, “a favorable juncture of circumstances.”
By definition, then, the concept should be a constant in both the Old Covenant and the New. There has to be an underlying dynamic at work.
Back to that first mention of “opportunity” in the New Testament. Matthew 26:16 records, “From then on he (Judas) began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.” (NAS) Just for the record, that passage is also the first mention of the word in the King James translation. Eleven different passages from Paul’s teachings talk about “opportunity” – from addressing the Romans to the Corinthians to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, the Colossians, and the Hebrews. Interestingly enough, only one of Jesus’ statements is translated with the use of the word “opportunity.”
The scenario around Jesus’ statement is preceded by Luke 21:10-11, in which He states, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.” (NAS) He explains there will be persecution which will lead to “bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake.” (v. 12c, NAS)
Jesus continued, “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.” (v. 13-15, NAS)
Maybe that is the underlying dynamic at work in the New Covenant. Jesus isn’t standing back when it is time for “our” testimony. He is waiting for us to begin speaking so that He can give “utterance and wisdom.” Therefore, our “opportunity” can come in the midst of trial, of persecution, in good times or in those that are troubling, because we are partnering with Him and it is really His opportunity to speak into the lives of others.
Hebrews 1 states, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son…”
Think about it. Think about the opportunity we have, together…