5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost.
Paul sets forth his travel plans and itinerary in verses 5-12.
Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia).
Paul planned to head to the province of Macedonia across the Aegean Sea to the Greek Macedonian province from Ephesus. Macedonia was north of Corinth. He planned to head south to Corinth after that visit. However, he changed his plan and went directly to Corinth from Ephesus (2 Co 2:1; 12-14; 13:1-2).
Paul had a vision, goals, and a plan for ministry. He had to change his strategy but he had a strategy to change. A visionary expects God to work but he does not presume how He is going to work.
And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you,
Paul needed to spend protracted time in Corinth because of problems in the church. He was not able to do this until the year after (A.D. 57-58) he anticipated being there (A.D. 56-57).
that you may send me on my journey,
This phrase may mean that the Corinthians will financially support Paul on his journey.
wherever I go.
This phrase indicates uncertainty. Christians should always leave open God’s change of direction for their lives. This requires that we trust God for His indefinite path. Note that the words “may” and “wherever” indicate Paul’s flexibility in following God’s will. This is not a matter of fickleness or indecisiveness but of the reality of changing circumstances.
2 Co 1:17 Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No?
Pr 16:9 A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
For I do not wish to see you now on the way;
Paul changed his mind about visiting the Corinthians because of winter conditions and because it made no sense to pay the Corinthians a brief visit, due to their significant problems.
but I hope to stay a while with you,
Paul did not know with absolute certainty the protracted will of God. He made plans tentatively, leaving open a change in direction God might desire. Everything depends on the will of God, so Christians need to be open and flexible to God’s change of plans for their lives.
if the Lord permits.
The “if” is conditional, implying that Paul did not presently know for sure what God’s will was.
But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost.
Pentecost was in late May or early June. Paul probably wrote this epistle in the spring in Ephesus. The sea lanes across the Aegean were closed due to winter conditions. Pentecost was about the time when the Aegean Sea began to settle down from the winter storms.
God expects us to put priority on plans for ministry.
People who have an inner direction of priorities are far more effective in accomplishing goals in their lives. Some live by emotion and compulsion, with very little direction to their lives. We often see what we choose to see, but we need to see the reality of opposition and adversaries and yet move militantly toward a greater vision.