2 Corinthians 2:15
For we are to God a sweet smell of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.—If we believe this Epistle to have been written from Philippi, it is interesting to note the recurrence of the same imagery of a “sweet savour” in the Epistle to that Church (Philippians 4:18). Here the mind of the writer turns to the sterner, sadder side of the Roman triumph. Some who appeared in that triumph were on their way to deliverance, some on their way to perish (this is the exact rendering of the words translated saved and lost), and this also has its analogue in the triumph of Christ. He does not shrink from that thought. In his belief in the righteousness and mercy of Christ, he is content to leave the souls of all men to His judgment. He will not the less do his work as incense-bearer, and let the “sweet savour” of the knowledge of God be wafted through the words which it has been given him to utter. All things are for His glory, for His righteousness will be seen to have been working through all.

2 Corinthians 2:15-16. For we — The preachers of the gospel, the apostles especially; are unto God a sweet odour of Christ — He is well pleased with this perfume diffused by us, with this incense of his name and gospel, which we spread abroad both in them that believe, love, and obey, and are therefore saved, and in them that obstinately disbelieve, and disobey, and consequently perish. To the one — Those that believe not; we are the odour of death unto death — The fragrancy, so rich in itself, instead of reviving, destroys them, and is efficacious to bring on death in its most dreadful forms. The gospel, which we preach to them, finds them dead in sin; that Isaiah , 1 st, under guilt, and a sentence of condemnation to the second death; and, 2d, in a state of alienation from the life of God, and carnally minded, which is death, Ephesians 4:18; Romans 8:6. It offers them acquittance from condemnation, and the Holy Spirit to unite them to God, and render them spiritually minded, which is life and peace. But it being disbelieved and rejected by them, they become more guilty, and condemned to greater punishment, and further removed from all union with, and conformity to, God. The expression, therefore, of death unto death, is perfectly just in this point of view; and is still more so if interpreted of the progress of such from spiritual death on earth to eternal death in hell. And to the other, we are the odour of life unto life — The gospel revives them; acquits them from condemnation; justifies them; and thereby entitles them to eternal life, Titus 3:7. It also opens an intercourse between God and their souls, communicates to them the life of grace, with a continual increase thereof, John 10:10, and then brings them to the life of glory. This seems an easy exposition of the passage. But Macknight thinks that the apostle alludes here, not to the powerful effects of strong perfumes on different persons, but to another circumstance, namely, that, in the triumphs of the ancients, “the captives of greatest note followed the triumphal chariot in chains, and that some of them had their lives granted to them; but others were put to death immediately after the procession ended. Wherefore to such, the smell of the flowers and of the incense, with which the procession was accompanied, was οσμη θανατου εις θανατον, a deadly smelling, ending in their death. But to those captives who had their lives granted to them, this was οσμη ζωης εις ζωην, a smell of life; a vivifying, refreshing smell, which ended in life to them. In allusion,” he adds, “to the method of a triumph, the apostle represents Christ as a victorious general, riding in a triumphal procession through the world, attended by his apostles, prophets, evangelists, and other ministers of the gospel, and followed by all the idolatrous nations as his captives. Among these, the preachers of the gospel diffused the smell of the knowledge of Christ, which, to those who believed on him, was a vivifying smell ending in life to them. But to the unbelievers the smell of the knowledge of Christ was a smell of death, ending in death if they continued in unbelief.” And who is sufficient for these things — So great and weighty as they are? Who is fit to bear such an important charge? Who should undertake it without trembling? Certainly, as the apostle’s question implies, the eternal destruction of those who perish may be sometimes ascribed, in some measure, to the ignorance, unfaithfulness, or negligence of the minister appointed to preach the gospel to them, and watch over their souls; in which case, their blood will be required at his hands. As for instance, 1st, If he does not know the truth, as it is in Jesus himself. 2d, Does not make it fully known to others. 3d, Does not do this with seriousness and deep concern. 4th, Is not diligent in this work, in season and out of season; constant and persevering. 5th, If he does not water the seed sown with his prayers, and watch over the souls committed to his care, as one that must give an account. Who is sufficient? 1st, Not those who do not know God and his gospel themselves, and therefore cannot make them known to others. 2d, Not those who have not God’s honour at heart, and know not the worth of souls and the importance of saving them. 3d, Not those, of whatever denomination they may be, who are pursuing worldly gain, honour, pleasure, or ease. The hireling careth not for the sheep. 4th, Not the careless, negligent, slothful, self-indulgent watchmen. 5th, Not they to whom God has not given just and clear views of the great doctrines of the gospel, and of God’s will and man’s duty, nor has opened to them a door of utterance. 6th, Not those who think themselves sufficient, and engage in this great work depending on their natural abilities, or on the mere aids of human learning. For none are sufficient of themselves, or without the powerful influence of God’s Spirit. 2:12-17 A believer's triumphs are all in Christ. To him be the praise and glory of all, while the success of the gospel is a good reason for a Christian's joy and rejoicing. In ancient triumphs, abundance of perfumes and sweet odours were used; so the name and salvation of Jesus, as ointment poured out, was a sweet savour diffused in every place. Unto some, the gospel is a savour of death unto death. They reject it to their ruin. Unto others, the gospel is a savour of life unto life: as it quickened them at first when they were dead in trespasses and sins, so it makes them more lively, and will end in eternal life. Observe the awful impressions this matter made upon the apostle, and should also make upon us. The work is great, and of ourselves we have no strength at all; all our sufficiency is of God. But what we do in religion, unless it is done in sincerity, as in the sight of God, is not of God, does not come from him, and will not reach to him. May we carefully watch ourselves in this matter; and seek the testimony of our consciences, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, that as of sincerity, so speak we in Christ and of Christ.For we are unto God - We who are his ministers, and who thus triumph. It is implied here that Paul felt that ministers were laboring for God, and felt assured that their labors would be acceptable to him. The object of Paul in the statement, in this and in the following verses, is undoubtedly to meet the charges of his detractors and enemies. He says, therefore, that whatever was the result of his labors in regard to the future salvation of people; yet, that his well-meant endeavors, and labors, and self-denials in preaching the gospel, were acceptable to God. The measure of God's approbation in the case was not his success, but his fidelity, his zeal, his self-denial, whatever might be the reception of the gospel among those who heard it.

A sweet savor - Like the smell of pleasant incense, or of grateful aromatics, such as were burned in the triumphal processions of returning conquerors. The meaning is, that their labors were acceptable to God; he was pleased with them, and would bestow on them the smiles and proofs of his approbation. The word rendered here as "sweet savor" (εὐωδία euōdia) occurs only in this place, and in Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18; and is applied to persons or things well-pleasing to God. It properly means good odor, or fragrance, and in the Septuagint it is frequently applied to the incense that was burnt in the public worship of God and to sacrifices in general; Genesis 8:21; Exodus 29:18, Exodus 29:25, Exodus 29:41; Leviticus 1:9, Leviticus 1:13, Leviticus 1:17; Leviticus 2:2, Leviticus 2:9,Leviticus 2:12; Leviticus 3:5, Leviticus 3:16; Leviticus 4:31, etc. Here it means that the services of Paul and the other ministers of religion were as grateful to God as sweet incense, or acceptable sacrifices.

Of Christ - That is, we are Christ's sweet savor to God: we are that which he has appointed, and which he has devoted and consecrated to God; we are the offering, so to speak, which he is continually making to God.

In them that are saved - In regard to them who believe the gospel through our ministry and who are saved. Our labor in carrying the gospel to them, and in bringing them to the knowledge of the truth, is acceptable to God. Their salvation is an object of his highest desire, and he is gratified with our fidelity, and with our success. This reason why their work was acceptable to God is more fully stated in the following verse, where it is said that in reference to them they were the "savor of life unto life." The word "saved" here refers to all who become Christians, and who enter heaven; and as the salvation of people is an object of such desire to God, it cannot but be that all who bear the gospel to people are engaged in an acceptable service, and that all their efforts will be pleasing to him, and approved in his sight In regard to this part of Paul's statement, there can be no difficulty.

And in them that perish - In reference to them who reject the gospel, and who are finally lost. It is implied here:

(1) That some would reject the gospel and perish, with whatever fidelity and self-denial the ministers of religion might labor.

(2) that though this would be the result, yet the labors of the ministers of religion would be acceptable to God. This is a fearful and awful declaration, and has been thought by many to be attended with difficulty. A few remarks may present the true sense of the passage, and remove the difficulty from it:

(a) It is not affirmed or implied here that the destruction of those who would reject the gospel, and who would perish, was desired by God or would be pleasing to him. This is nowhere affirmed or implied in the Bible.

(b) It is affirmed only that the labors of the ministers of religion in endeavoring to save them would be acceptable and pleasing to God. Their labors would be in order to save them, not to destroy them.

Their desire was to bring all to heaven - and this was acceptable to God. Whatever might be the result, whether successful or not, yet God would be pleased with self-denial, and toil, and prayer that was honestly and zealously put forth to save others from death. They would be approved by God in proportion to the amount of labor, zeal, and fidelity which they evinced.

(3) it would be by no fault of faithful ministers that people would perish. Their efforts would be to save them, and those efforts would be pleasing to God.

(4) it would be by no fault of the gospel that people would perish. The regular and proper tendency of the gospel is to save, not to destroy men; as the tendency of medicine is to heal them, of food to support the body, of air to give vitality, of light to give pleasure to the eye, etc. It is provided for all, and is adapted to all. There is a sufficiency in the gospel. for all people, and in its nature it is as really suited to save one as another. Whatever may be the manner in which it is received, it is always in itself the same pure and glorious system; full of benevolence and mercy. The bitterest enemy of the gospel cannot point to one of its provisions that is adapted or designed to make people miserable, and to destroy them. All its provisions are adapted to salvation; all its arrangements are those of benevolence; all the powers and influences which it originates, are those which are suited to save, not to destroy people. The gospel is what it is in itself - a pure, holy, and benevolent system, and is answerable only for effects which a pure, holy, and benevolent system is suited to produce. To use the beautiful language of Theodoret, as quoted by Bloomfield: "We indeed bear the sweet odor of Christ's gospel to all; but all who participate in it do not experience its salutiferous effects. Thus, to diseased eyes even the light of heaven is noxious; yet the sun does not bring the injury. And to those in a fever, honey is bitter; yet it is sweet nevertheless. Vultures too, it is said, fly away from sweet odors of myrrh; yet myrrh is myrrh though the vultures avoid it, Thus, if some be saved, though others perish, the gospel retains its own virtue, and we the preachers of it remain just as we are; and the gospel retains its odorous and salutiferous properties, though some may disbelieve and abuse it, and perish." Yet:

(5) It is implied that the gospel would be the occasion of heavier condemnation to some, and that they would sink into deeper ruin in consequence of its being preached to them. This is implied in the expression in 2 Corinthians 2:16, "to the one we are a savor of death unto death." In the explanation of this, we may observe:

(a) That those who perish would have perished at any rate. All were under condemnation whether the gospel had come to them or not. None will perish in consequence of the gospel's having been sent to them who would not have perished had it been unknown. People do not perish because the gospel is sent to them, but for their own sins.

continued...

15. The order is in Greek, "For (it is) of Christ (that) we are a sweet savor unto God"; thus, the "for" justifies his previous words (2Co 2:14), "the savor of His (Christ's) knowledge." We not only scatter the savor; but "we are the sweet savor" itself (So 1:3; compare Joh 1:14, 16; Eph 5:2; 1Jo 2:27).

in them that are saved—rather, "that are being saved … that are perishing" (see on [2307]1Co 1:18). As the light, though it blinds in darkness the weak, is for all that still light; and honey, though it taste bitter to the sick, is in itself still sweet; so the Gospel is still of a sweet savor, though many perish through unbelief [Chrysostom, Homilies, 5.467], (2Co 4:3, 4, 6). As some of the conquered foes led in triumph were put to death when the procession reached the capitol, and to them the smell of the incense was the "savor of death unto death," while to those saved alive, it was the "savor of life," so the Gospel was to the different classes respectively.

and in them—in the case of them. "Those being saved" (2Co 3:1-4:2): "Those that are perishing" (2Co 4:3-5).

For the God whom we serve doth not judge of us, nor will reward us, according to our success, but according to our faithfulness and diligence in his work. We give unto all a good savour by our doctrine; and our labours are a sweet savour in the nostrils of God, whatever effects they have upon souls. God accepteth of our labours as to good men, to whom we are instruments of eternal life and salvation; and though others despise the gospel, and refuse the sweet sound of it, yet as to them also we are a sweet savour in the nostrils of God: Though Israel be not saved, (saith the prophet, Isaiah 49:5), yet I shall be glorified. It is not for any neglect in us, as to our duty, if any perish, but from their own wilfulness and perverseness. For we are unto God a sweet savour,.... Here a reason is given, why the savour of the knowledge of God in Christ is made manifest by the ministers of the Gospel, because they themselves are a sweet savour; not that they are so in themselves, for they have the same corrupt hearts and natures, and complain of them as other men; but as having the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, comparable to fragrant and sweet smelling ointments, Sol 1:3, by which they are enabled to preach the savoury doctrines of the Gospel, and to adorn and recommend them by their exemplary lives and conversations: the allusion is to Aaron and the priests under the law, who were anointed with the anointing oil, which was poured upon their heads, ran down upon their beards, and descended to the skirts of their garments, so that they were all over a perfume, a sweet smell and savour; and so are the ministers of the word, being anointed with that, which the other was typical of. They are said to be a sweet savour

of Christ, because they have their gifts, grace, and Gospel from him, and he is the subject of their ministry; so that this sweet savour of theirs, is not properly theirs, but his, whose person, blood, righteousness, sacrifice, grace, and the fulness of it, as held forth in the Gospel ministry, are sweet and savoury to believers. Moreover, it is "unto God" they are such a savour, not unto men, mere carnal men, for with them they are the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things; but they are grateful and well pleasing to the Lord, as their ministrations make for, and show forth his honour and glory: and this they are

in them that are saved, who are chosen by God unto salvation, for whom Christ has wrought it out, to whom it is applied by the Spirit of God, who are heirs of it, and are kept unto it, and for it, by the power of God, and shall certainly enjoy it: yea, they are a sweet savour

in them that perish, all mankind are, through sin, in a perishing condition: some of them shall never perish; but are, and shall be saved with an everlasting salvation: others will perish in their sins, to which they are abandoned; and what sense the ministers of the Gospel are a savour in these is shown in the following verse.

{3} For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

(3) He denies that anything should be taken away from the dignity of his apostleship, because they saw that it was not received with like success in every place. But rather very many rejected and detested him, seeing that he preached Christ not only as a saviour of those that believe, but also as a judge of those that condemn him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 2:15 f. Further confirmatory development of the previous καὶ τ. ὀσμὴν κ.τ.λ., in which, however, Paul does not keep to the continuity of the figure, but, with his versatility of view, now represents the apostolic teachers themselves as odou.

Χριστοῦ εὐωδία] may mean a perfume produced by Christ, or one filled with Christ, breathing of Christ. The latter (Calvin, Estius, Bengel, Rückert, Osiander, and most expositors; comp. also Hofmann) corresponds better with the previous ὀσμὴ τῆς γνώσεως αὐτοῦ, and is more in keeping with the emphasis which the prefixed Χριστοῦ has, because otherwise the εὐωδία would remain quite undefined as regards its essential quality. The sense of the figurative expression is: for our working stands in the specific relation to God, as a perfume breathing of Christ. The image itself is considered by most (comp. Ritschl in the Jahrb. für d. Th. 1863, p. 258) as borrowed from the sacrificial fragrance (so also Billroth, Rückert, Olshausen, de Wette, Osiander, Ewald), on which account appeal is made to the well-known ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας of the LXX., רֵיחַ נִיחֹחַ, Leviticus 1:9; Leviticus 1:13; Leviticus 1:17, al. But as Paul, wherever else he uses the image of sacrifice, marks it distinctly, as Ephesians 5:2, Php 4:18, and in the present passage the statedly used ὀσμὴ εὐωδίας does not stand at all, it is more probable that he was not thinking of an odour of sacrifice (which several, like Billroth, Ewald, Ritschl, find already in ὀσμή, 2 Corinthians 2:14), but of the odours of incense that accompanied the triumphal procession; these are to God a fragrance, redolent to Him of Christ. That in this is symbolized the relation of the acceptableness to God of the apostolic working, is seen from the very word chosen, εὐωδία, which Hofmann misconstrues by explaining τῷ θεῷ to God’s service.

καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλ.] and among those, who are incurring eternal death; comp. 2 Corinthians 4:3. See on 1 Corinthians 1:18. Grotius strangely wishes to supply here κακωδία ex vi contrariorum. It is, in fact, the relation to God that is spoken of, according to which the working of the apostle is to Him εὐωδία, whether the odour be exhaled among σωζομένοι or ἀπολλυμένοι. Comp. Chrysostom. To take ἐν in the sense of operative on (Osiander) anticipates what follows. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:3.—2 Corinthians 2:16 specifies now the different relation of this odour to the two classes. Paul, however, does not again use εὐωδία, but the in itself indifferent ὀσμή, because the former would be unsuitable for the first half, while the latter suits both halve.

ἐκ θανάτου εἰς θάνατον] an odour, which arises from death and produces death. The source, namely, of the odour is Christ, and He, according to the idea of the λίθος τοῦ προσκόμματος (Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8; Acts 4:11), is for those who refuse the faith the author of eternal death.[151] For them, therefore, in accordance with their inward attitude towards Him, Christ, the source of the odour, i.e. of the apostolic activity, is death, and also the effect is death, though Christ in Himself is and works eternal life. Comp. Matthew 21:44; Luke 2:34. Hence Christ, by means of the κρίσις which He brings with Him, is the source respectively of death and life, according as His preaching is accepted by one to salvation, is rejected by another to destruction. In the latter case the blame of Christ’s being θάνατος, although he is, as respects His nature and destination, ζωή, lies on the side of man in his resistance and stubbornness. Comp. 1 Corinthians 1:23, also John 9:39; John 3:18 f., John 12:48. “Semper ergo distinguendum est proprium evangelii officium ab accidentali (ut ita loquar), quod hominum pravitati imputandum est, qua fit, ut vita illis vertatur in mortem,” Calvin. Comp. Düsterdieck on 1 John, I. p. 166. This, at the same time, in opposition to Rückert, who objects that the apostolic activity and preaching can in no way be regarded as proceeding from θάνατος, and who therefore prefers the Recepta,[152] in which Reiche and Neander agree. Gregory of Nyssa remarks aptly in Oecumenius: ΚΑΤᾺ ΤῊΝ ΠΡΟΣΟῦΣΑΝ ἙΚΆΣΤῼ ΔΙΆΘΕΣΙΝ Ἢ ΖΩΟΠΟΙῸς ἘΓΈΝΕΤΟ, Ἢ ΘΑΝΑΤΗΦΌΡΟς Ἡ ΕὔΠΝΟΙΑ. Quite similar forms of expression are found in the Rabbins, who often speak of an aroma (סַם, see Buxt. Lex. Talm. p. 1494; L. Cappellus on the passage), or odor vitae and mortis, see in Wetstein and Schoettge.

καὶ πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός;] This no longer depends on the ὅτι of 2 Corinthians 2:15 (Hofmann), a connection to which the interrogatory form would be so thoroughly unsuitable that no reader could have lighted on it; but after Paul has expressed the great, decisive efficacy of his calling, there comes into his mind the crowd of disingenuous teachers as a contrast to that exalted destination of the office, and with the quickly interjected καί he hence asks with emotion: And who is for this (i.e. for the work symbolized in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16) fit? Who is qualified for this? The ΤΊς is intentionally pushed towards the end of the question, in order to arrest reflection at the important ΠΡῸς ΤΑῦΤΑ, and then to bring in the question itself by surprise. Comp. Herod. v. 33: ΣΟῚ ΔῈ ΚΑῚ ΤΟΎΤΟΙΣΙ ΤΟῖΣΙ ΠΡΆΓΜΑΣΙ ΤΊ ἜΣΤΙ; Plat. Conv. p. 204 D: ὁ ἐρῶν τῶν καλῶν τί ἐρᾷ; Xen. Cyr. iv. 6, 8; Romans 8:24; Ephesians 4:9; Acts 11:17.

[151] Θάνατος and ζωή are to be understood both times of eternal life and death. The contrast of σωζομένοι and ἀπολλυμένοι permits no other interpretation: comp. 2 Corinthians 7:10. Ewald takes ἐκ θανάτου of temporal death and ἐκ ζωῆς of temporal life: from the former we fall into eternal death, and from the temporal life we come into the eternal.

[152] According to the Recepta, which Hofmann also follows, ὀσμὴ ζωῆς is life-giving odour, and ὀσμὴ θανάτου is deadly odour; εἰς θάνατ. and εἰς ζ. would then be solemn additions of the final result, which actually ensues from the life-giving deadly power of the odour. According to Hofmann, the genitives are intended to mean: in which they get to smell of death and of life respectively. But comp. expressions like ἄρτος τ. ζωῆς, φῶς τ. ζωῆς, λόγος ζωῆς, ῥήματα ζωῆς.2 Corinthians 2:15. ὅτι Χρ. εὐωδία κ.τ.λ.: for we are a sweet savour of Christ unto God. Not only “through us” is the ὀσμή made manifest; we ourselves in so far as we realise and manifest our membership of Christ are, in fact, that εὐωδία. The influence of the lives of the saints is sweet and penetrative, like that of incense. From this verse comes the phrase “the odour of sanctity”.—ἐν τοῖς σωζομένοις καὶ κ.τ.λ.: among them that are being saved and among them that are perishing. It is difficult to understand why the American Committee of Revisers objected to this rendering, and translated “are saved … perish”. The force of the present participles ought not to be overlooked (see reff.); men in this world are either in the way of life or the way of death, but their final destiny is not to be spoken of as fixed and irrevocable while they are in the flesh. Free will involves the possibility alike of falling away from a state of grace, or of repentance from a state of sin. But for men of either class is a Christian life lived in their midst, a εὐωδία Χριστοῦ.15. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ] The form of the expression is here altered in two ways: (1) the Apostle himself now becomes the ‘sweet savour,’ while (2) the idea of sacrifice is first brought in. The Apostle now uses the phrase used in the LXX. for a sacrificial odour (see note on last verse). The ministers of Christ are a sweet savour of Him, the great Atoning Sacrifice, not only because they make Him known, but because they are imbued and interpenetrated with the spirit of His Sacrifice, ‘always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.’ And this not only in themselves but in those to whom they minister the Spirit of the Lord (cf. ch. 2 Corinthians 3:3) as soon as they in their turn begin to display the same spirit, or even in a certain sense (see next note) when they do not. See Ephesians 5:2; Php 4:18.

in them that are saved, and in them that perish] The tense in the original speaks of no completed work, but is strictly present: those who are in process of being saved or of perishing. Cf. Luke 13:23; Acts 2:47; 1 Corinthians 1:18; ch. 2 Corinthians 4:3. The imagery of the triumphal procession is still before the Apostle. Some of those who took part in it were destined to rewards and honours, others were doomed to perpetual imprisonment or death. Christ and His servants are a savour of life unto them who are in the way of salvation, because through conformity to the spirit of Christ’s sacrifice arises conformity to His life, a savour of death unto those who are not in the way of salvation, because a deliverance refused does but make destruction inevitable. Cf. Matthew 21:44; Luke 2:34; John 3:18-20; John 9:39; John 12:48; John 15:22.2 Corinthians 2:15. Εὐωδία) a sweet savour, i.e., powerful, grateful to the godly, offensive to the ungodly. The savour of Christ pervades us, as the odour of aromatics pervades garments.—ἐν) in the case of.—σωζομένοις· ἀπολλυμένοις, in them, who are saved; in them, who perish) To which class each may belong, is evident from the manner in which he receives the Gospel. Of the former class he treats, 2 Corinthians 3:1 to 2 Corinthians 4:2; of the latter, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6.—ἀπολλυμένοις, in them that are perishing) 2 Corinthians 4:3.Verse 15. - We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ. The undeveloped metaphor involved in these words is that "we and our preaching diffuse to God's glory the knowledge of Christ which is as a sweet savour." The apostles are identified with their work; they were as the incense, crushed and burned, but diffusing everywhere a waft of perfume. St. Paul is still thinking of the incense burnt in the streets of Rome during a triumph - "Dabimusque Divis Tura benignis" (Horace, 'Od.,' 4:2.51) - though his expression recalls the "odour of a sweet smell," of Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17 (comp. Ephesians 5:2); see on this passage the excellent note of Bishop Wordsworth. In them that are saved, and in them that perish; rather, among those who are perishing and those who are being saved (comp. Acts 2:47). The odour is fragrant to God, though those who breathe it may be variously affected by it. A sweet savor of Christ (Χριστοῦ εὐωδία)

Compare Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18. As so often in Paul's writings, the figure shifts; the apostolic teachers themselves being represented as an odor, their Christian personality redolent of Christ. It is not merely a sweet odor produced by Christ, but Christ Himself is the savor which exhales in their character and work.

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