“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for the good man to do nothing.” - (Edmund Burke).
It appeared that Paul’s plans had completely fallen apart. He had sent Titus to Corinth to find out their spiritual condition and had arranged to meet him in Troas for a first hand report (v. 12). When Titus failed to show up, Paul became very concerned (v. 13). For all Paul knew, Titus might have been carrying with him a portion of the Corinthian collection and fallen prey to bandits. He also was very concerned about what was going on in Corinth. Paul had great open doors of ministry at Troas, but he could not concentrate on these because of the circumstances. The circumstances were not comfortable, and Paul could not explain the detours and disappointments, but he was sure God was in control.
Paul now draws attention from himself to the triumphant Christ (v. 14). The picture is that of the “Roman Triumph“ parade. When a commander-in-chief won a complete victory over the enemy and gained new territory for the Emperor, he was entitled to a victory parade. In front of his chariot, captives would march carrying incense; their lives were to be spared (v. 15). Behind him other captives would follow carrying incense; they were to be put to death (v. 16). The spiritual application is that those who handle the Word of God and make known the gospel share in Christ’s victory. The captives in front represent believers giving forth the fragrance of Christ in life. The ones behind the chariot represent other believers who are the fragrance of death, as serving Christ may mean life or death to a lost world around us.
Paul lived not in pessimistic fear, but in the glorious optimism which knew the triumphant life in Christ. There were those who said that he was not fit to preach Christ. There were those who said worse, that he was using the gospel as an excuse to line his own pockets (v. 17). Again Paul uses the word eilikrineia for purity. His motives will stand the penetrating rays of the sun. His message is from God, and it will stand the very scrutiny of Christ himself. Paul never feared what men might say, because his conscience told him that he had the approval of God and the “Well done!” of Christ.
When things fall apart around me, who do I turn to? The Lord didn’t promise me a life with no battles but He has promised to be in the battles with me.
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. 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. 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. 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.
View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »
II Corinthians 1:1-11Comfort in Suffering
II Corinthians 1:12-14Paul’s Change of Plans
II Corinthians 1:15-24Sparing The Church
II Corinthians 2:1-4Effective Leadership Is Sensitive to Others
II Corinthians 2:5-11Forgiveness For The Sinner
II Corinthians 2:12-17The Triumph of Christ
II Corinthians 3:1-3We May Be The Only Bible Some People Read
II Corinthians 3:4-11The Spirit, Not The Letter
II Corinthians 3:12-18When One Turns to The Lord The Veil is Removed
II Corinthians 4:1-6By God’s Grace I Will Not Quit
II Corinthians 4:7-18Cast Down But Not Conquered
II Corinthians 5:1-9Assurance of The Resurrection
II Corinthians 5:10-13Bringing People to God
II Corinthians 5:14-21Be Reconciled to God