Sweet smelling Triumph
Concluding in an introduction, really? Yep, concluding with what we have been previously looking at and then transitioning into the next section. Previously (2Cor1:23-2:11) a rebuke for restoration, and even going back further Paul’s defence (2Cor1:7-22)
Paul discussed his affliction and comfort so to comfort others (2Cor1:3-7)
comforted so to comfort others
Paul has assured of Deliverance in affliction (2Cor1:8-11)
God has always delivered and will be faithful to deliver through affliction, not always from but through.
Paul’s accused of not caring, his courtroom setting and witnesses (2Cor1:12-24)
Accused of not caring, being self-centered and vacillating because of change of travel plans
He calls his conscience, himself and God as defense witnesses
Our passage today is really the conclusion to that and a transition to the next section.
There is some controversy between some translations (i.e. the NIV) which lumps 2:12-13 with the next section going all the way through 3:6, but was we look at these verses I think you will see they are really a conclusion to what we have previously been looking at, Paul’s defence to changes in his travel plans.
Drawing a conclusion (2Cor12:13)
12 Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13 I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.
(Insert: From Ephesus to Troas picture here)
Paul had planned to return to Corinth but instead he ended up travelling from Ephesus up the Aegean Sea (though we do not know if went by land or sea) about 200 miles to Troas.
Paul was an evangelist, a church planter and his evangelistic purpose was to plant a church there in a strategic city.
A city of about 100,000, it was a great cosmopolitan seaport. It was also known as Alexandrian Troas having been named after Alexander the Great and had a coast line of about 50 miles. This is the place where Greece and Asia Minor connected by sea and a short land mass as seen in the picture. IT was only a few sea miles from Philippi and was a place that Julius Caesar considered making the capital of the Roman empire at one time.
Paul passes through Troas again on his way to Jerusalem with the gift for the saints in Jerusalem with the emissaries from the other churches (Act20:5) You can find this city noted also as the place Paul directs Timothy to get his scrolls from (2Tim4:13)
Question: Why did Paul comes to Troas according to (v.12)?
For the Gospel, when the door was opened by the Lord.
The gospel was always forefront in Paul’s mind. For it was the power of God unto salvation.
Question: What did Paul find and not find when he got to Troas (v.13)?
He found no rest for his spirit
He did not find Titus my brother.
We do not know exactly why he did not have rest for his spirit, it could be several things.
He was concerned about the report from Titus after he delivered the “severe letter” what was the response.
Not finding Titus would be a concern that the reception of the letter was not well received. Remember he loves the Corinthians and did not want to bring them sorrow again (2Cor2:1)
Question: Paul when not finding Titus does what (v.13)?
He takes his leave and goes on toward Macedonia.
In the midst of a great evangelistic opportunity, an open door, he love, care, concern for the Corinthians calls for him to leave Troas. His plans were not selfish as claimed (2Cor1:12-14) but in love and service to the gospel and the needs of the Corinthians.
He had a love for the people of Troas and their reception to the gospel and his taking his leave is in angst for he does not know when/if will return there. The word he uses there is the same word used in bidding the church oat Corinth and the church at Ephesus good-bye too. “Apotaxamenos” just in case you are wondering.
IT was in angst Paul was in Troas and not in Corinth but the Lord had opened the door there for the gospel and he was the Lord’s servant and that is where God wanted him at the time, but his heart was out for the Corinthians too and their reception of the “severe letter.”
Sometimes when we serve the Lord we can be pulled several different directions and it can cause us some angst because they are all godly things. And as we press on we will see that even in the angst that he leaves Troas to the Corinthians there is a picture painted of triumph in Jesus.
Triumph in Christ!
Triumph in Christ!
Triumph we know as a victory, but to the Corinthians a Roman colony it takes on a deeper meaning when Paul speaks of that. And to Christians, well it takes on an eternal spiritual implication that is out of this world.
This passage can be a little difficult to understand with 21 Century eyes, we need to see the context in which it was written to gain a better understanding of it.
First I want to
Glean from the passage
Look at a Roman triumph
Then look at Paul’s confidence in our triumph in Christ.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;
16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
Gleaning from the scripture:
Question: You will have to pay attention closely, look at the passage, look at the pronouns, are they singular, plural?
They are first person plural pronouns.
I want to you to notice that in the previous verses Paul is speaking in first person singular in (vv.12-13) but now is in first person plural
This is another good reason why verses 12-13 go to close out the previous section and this is a new section. Paul had been making a defence and now he goes onward from that
Question: How does God lead “us” in (v.14)?
Always in triumph in Christ.
Question: Paul describes something else about “us” in (vv.14-15) what is it?
Sweet aroma of knowledge of Christ (v.14)
We are the fragrance of Christ (v.15)
I will go back and talk about the significance of the aroma, the fragrance when we talk about the triumph procession in a few minutes
Question: Now look at (vv.15-16) Paul draws two comparisons, can you see them?
Fragrance to those being saved and those who are perishing. (v.15)
Aroma from death to death, and aroma of life to life (v.16).
Question: What does Paul say about how they are different than those peddling the word of God (v.17)?
They speak from sincerity, from God, speak in Christ in sight of God.
(Transition) Paul uses describers that mean something to the church at Corinth and he paints a very vivid picture of it and our triumph we have in Christ. So I want to expand on a Roman triumph, what is it, what does it consist of, what is the order of it and what the heck does this have to do with us.
A triumph was a high honor given to a victorious Roman general. There were conditions to be met to qualify for this high honor.
He had to be a field commander (been in the battle)
He had to be the commander in chief in the field in the midst of the battle, so on the front lines leading the men by example.
The battle must have been won, and troops brought home. There would be peace in the region conquered.
The battle must be completely finished, the region pacified and the victorious troops brought home.
A minimum of 5000 enemy troops must have fallen in the engagement.
The writings on this actually show this to be one battle, one engagement 5000 fell.
There must be an increase of the Roman territory for the the area conquered.
This cannot be retaking a territory that was previously Roman.
The victory must be over a foreign foe and not a civil war
I don’t think we have to expand on this we can understand what a civil war is.
Order of the Triumph procession:
This would be a march down a particular route through the streets of Rome leading to the Capital and the Circus Maximus.
First, the State officials and the senate
Then came the trumpeters
Followed by the spoils taken from the conquered land
An example of this that you can read in the writings of Josephus after the conquering of Jerusalem in the triumph General Titus had the seven-branched candlesticks and golden table of shew bread as well as the seven golden trumpets were carried through the streets in Rome.
Then a picture parade of pictures
This would be of the conquered land; this may include models made of the citadels and other prominent buildings in the conquered land.
Followed by a white bull
The white bull was going to be the sacrifice offered in thanksgiving for the victory to their gods.
Then the captives: Princes, leaders, generals in chains
They were on the way to the circus maximus where they would be used as entertainment for the people as they were led to slaughter by being put to fight wild beasts.
Followed closely by the lictors bearing their rods
They were magistrates that accompanies Roman royal officials when they made public appearances.
Then the musicians
With their lyres making a sweet melody to the people in this victorious parade
Then the priests
Coming bearing and waving their censers with the sweet-smelling incense burning in them. (more on this symbolically speaking shortly)
Then the triumph general
Riding in a golden chariot, surrounded by his officers.
He would be clad in a purple toga with golden palm leaves. He would hold an Ivory Scepter with Roman eagle as its top. Over his head a slave would hold the crown of Jupiter.
Following him was his family
Finally the victorious army in all their array and awards
What a special day that would have been not just for the triumph general but for all the Roman people it was a huge victory that all celebrated.
This is what Paul pictured as Christ marching victorious in triumph throughout the world.
The priest with the incense-filled censers to the victors it would be a sweet perfume of joy and triumph.To the captives it was a perfume of march leading to death.
Paul and the apostles the “we” and “us” the pronouns used in context today were proclaiming this victory, this triumph through the gospel of Christ. To those who accept to life, to those who refuse it is the perfume, fragrance of death.
Paul lived with a clear conscience, a pure heart with pure motives and certainty found only in Christ Jesus and Him crucified.
William Barclay said:
“He did not live in pessimistic fear of the world. He lived in glorious optimism and knew the unconquerable majesty of Christ.”
Remember Paul served with a clear conscience. He lived for Christ and in our passage we can see some of Paul’s confidence in the Lord for him, for the apostles and in turn for us.
Paul had confidence that God was leading him (2Cor2:14)
14 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.
Question: How was God leading according to (v.14)?
In Christ who always leads.
(Insert - Ive got a question picture here)
Question not on your sheet, do you know, do you have assurance, do you have faith that God is always leading you? If so, how? (Because of God’s word that reveal Gods character and nature)
Paul’s circumstances were not great, he had been physically attacked many times, run out of towns. People challenged his heart and his integrity. His circumstances were not comfortable. There were detours and disappointments, but Paul was confident, was sure that God was in control and leading him.
As believers we can have the same confidence, same assurance that God is working out all things for the good (see Rom8:28) if we love him and seek to obey His will.
The promise of Rom8:28 “is not an excuse for carelessness, but it is an encouragement for confidence” that is what Warren Wiersbe says in him commentary on Rom8:28.
Paul had confidence not only in God’s leading but leading him in triumph (2Cor2:14)
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s victory parade. God uses us to spread his knowledge everywhere like a sweet-smelling perfume.
I wanted to use that version since we know most others say “in triumph” but we have looked at the triumph parade, the victors parade and thought this one fit nicely right here.
We have looked at the times, the history, we have painted the picture of the triumph parade, but now Paul is also forthtelling to us that
Jesus Christ is our Triumph, our victor!
Jesus came to foreign soil - Earth
Jesus completely defeated the enemy - Satan
Jesus did not take life, but gave life, to 3000, then more to 2000 (Act2:41; 4:4)
Jesus claimed the spoils of the battle, the lost souls that were saved from the enemy who had been in bondage to sin and Satan (Lk11:14-22, Eph4:8; Col2:15)
You can read about jesus words in Lk11 passage on your own, about Satan a house divided, and where victory came from, the hand of God.
Oh but this Ephesians passage is too good to pass up and its sister verse in Colossians
8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.”
15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.
Question: Not on your sheet again; but a scripture one, how was the triumph displayed in looking at (Col2:15)?
Through Him, through Jesus!
Jesus family his son’s and daughter’s walk in triumph behind him not for victory but from victory!
Now there may not be a great appearance of victory in Corinth, nor even in Asia, but there was a confidence that Paul had that God would take it and make it a victory!
Paul was confident that God was using him in His leading him (2Cor2:14-17)
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,
16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17 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.
Remember the Triumph Parade the priests? They were waving censors that we filled with sweet incense. This incense impacted people differently. to some it was a reminder of the triumph victory, to us our triumph over sin and death in Christ Jesus.
To others it would be defeat and death, to those who do not accept the victory offered in Christ Jesus.
(Insert picture: death and life in the tongue)
Paul pictures the Christians as the incense, spreading the aroma of Christ in all that we say and all that we do. to some for life, to others death. What we do, what we say is a matter of life and death, really, not kidding. You have the words of life, the bible, the power to raise the dead through the word. Speak life, speak the gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation!
One more quote then will close in prayer
“We don’t have to fail! Circumstances may discourage us, people may oppose us and misunderstand us; but we have in Christ the the spiritual resources to win the battle; a clear conscience, a compassionate heart and a conquering faith.”
Is that not what we have looked at in (2Cor2)? It truly is.