2 Corinthians 2
In verses 1 – 4 Paul is giving further explanation to his decision not to return to Corinth. The confrontation between Paul and the Corinthians must have been pretty heated, therefore Paul decided that because of the unpleasantness of it, he would not go back. But Paul is letting them know that while it caused him pain as well as them pain it was a decision he made out of love for them. Sometimes if a situation cannot resolve itself in person, there should be wisdom used and it is best to remove yourself. To gain perspective as well as to formulate what needs to be said. Paul is sending them this letter because he loves them and wants resolution with them.
Paul goes on to address the sinner among them who has caused pain. This may have been the same person in 1 Corinthians 5. The Corinthians may have done as they were told and rebuked the man and put him out of the church and their fellowship, but when the man repented they had a hard time accepting him back. Paul is telling them that if someone that has been removed from their presence and that person repents and turns back to the fellowship that the fellowship should welcome them back and not only love them but comfort them. That not doing so, is buying right into what Satan would desire us to do.
“Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11
We should always be aware that Satan has many strategies to tear us down as well as to tear down the church. While we should not “look for a devil behind every rock” so to speak we should also “not be ignorant of his designs”.
“When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia” (2 Corinthians 2:12-14)
Paul wanted the Corinthians to know by these verses that he was always following the leading of Christ and the opened doors that Christ had for him. However, Paul also enjoyed doing ministry with others called to ministry. He felt that his strengths were in doing ministry with a team, so a solo run in Troas was shortlived.
“But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)
Paul is painting the picture for the Corinthians of a Roman triumphal parade. He is letting them know that he follows Jesus as his general. Much like the Romans would have had a general in a war and they would have a parade when the Roman general and his army would return from war to celebrate. Paul follows Jesus, as his general. When there was a Roman triumphal parade there also may have likely been incense burning when the parade returned, hence the reference of the “spreading of fragrance”.
“For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16a)
The burning of the incense in a Roman parade would have meant two different things. To the Romans it was the smell of victory. But to the prisoners of war that may have been brought back it could also be the smell of death or defeat. The same smell but 2 very different meanings. Paul is saying the aroma of Christ that we bring will also mean 2 different things. To those who are in Christ Jesus and attempting to walk with him, the aroma is a sweet smell. However to those who are perishing it may not be so pleasant, it may be offensive to them. Isn’t that just how it is in the world today? When we try to spread the gospel, the world finds our ways and what we proclaim as offensive.
“Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:16b-17)
Paul is recognizing that he is a mere man. He is recognizing the fact that no one is worthy to be a minister of the gospel. He also recognizes that there are those who are in ministry that are only “peddlers of God’s word”, but that he was “commissioned by God” and “in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
Lord, while none of us are truly worthy to be ministers or advocates of the gospel, may we still be a sweet aroma to those who hear and know us.
Please pray today for the service industry. So many stores and restaurants closing. Please pray for those who are suffering in the economy at this time.