STUDY II Corinthians
2:12-17 (click here for notes)
Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God. (NIV)
Shaped by God's Call
After explaining to the Corinthians why he would not visit them at that time and expounding to them the necessity that they forgive and restore each other to fellowship after experiencing discipline, Paul returns to an account of his itinerary. After he left Ephesus, from where her wrote 2 Corinthians, he went to Troas. He had expected to meet Titus returning from Corinth in Troas, but Titus was not there. Even though Paul found "that the Lord had opened a door for [him]," he was not at peace without Titus and his news from Corinth. He left Corinth and "went on to Macedonia."
1. What motivation shaped Paul's life? (see Romans 1:1-5; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 9:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3; Acts 14:37)
2. Paul breaks off his narrative and resumes it again in 2 Corinthians 7:5. He left Troas experiencing "no peace of mind." Did arriving in Macedonia bring him relief? (see 2 Cor. 7:5)
3. What finally brought Paul comfort? (2 Cor. 7:6-7)
4. What do these reactions of Paul's tell us about his relationship with the Corinthians and about Paul himself?
Thanks Be To God
Paul resorts to Roman military imagery in verse 14: "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." When a Roman general was victorious, he would process with his soldiers and prisoners through the streets of his city while the people or priests burned spices in the streets.
5. Where else does Paul use similar imagery with the Corinthians? (1 Corinthians 4:9)
6. In 1 Corinthians, Paul compared himself to the prisoners. In this passage, he compares himself to the triumphant general. How can he be both?
7. Paul gives thanks to God for leading us in triumph. For what other things does Paul also gives thanks to God? (see Romans 6:17-18; 7:21-25; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57; 2 Corinthians 9:14-15)
8. What command and principle is Paul incorporating into his life as represented in these passages? (see Psalm 30:11-12; 118:28-29; Colossians 2:6-7; 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Hebrews 12:28)
Fragrance of Life
9. In this passage Paul talks of the "fragrance of the knowledge of [Christ]" and of the "aroma of Christ." While this imagery is directly related to the sweet smell of burning spices in a Roman triumphal procession, what further meaning would this image have to those familiar with the historic worship of the Lord God? (see Genesis 8:21; Exodus 29:18; Numbers 15:1-4; Psalm 141:2; Ezekiel 20:41)
10. How has this Old Testament symbol become transformed in the New Testament? (see Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 8:7)
11. Who are "those who are being saved and those who are perishing," and what is significant about the verbs being present perfect ("are being saved" and "are perishing") instead of merely present tense ("are" (saved) and "perish")? (see also 2 Corinthians 4:3; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10; Acts 2:46-47; Luke 2:34; John 3:36)
12. In what way are we an aroma, and why are WE the "smell of death" or the "fragrance of life" to others?
13. What exactly is the "task" in v. 16 to which Paul asks, "Who is equal," and how do we fulfill this obligation? (see 2 Corinthians 3:4-6; 1 Corinthians 15:10)
Model of Integrity
14. Paul reminds the Corinthians he has not "peddled the word for profit." What do we know about Paul's commitment in this regard? (see Acts 20:32-34; 18:3; 1 Corinthians 9:12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 7:2; 11:9; 12:14-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:5)
15. What does it mean to "speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God"? (see also 1 Corinthians 5:8; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 12:9-10; Matthew 1:22)
16. Have you experienced God's call in your life, and what has that been?
17. What role does praise and thanksgiving play in your life?
18. Who is/has been a fragrant aroma of Christ in your life, and how has that person's witness and ministry affected you?
19. Who would say you have been the fragrance of Christ to them, and who has doubted your witness?
20. What in your life is distracting to you, taking your attention and leaving you feeling distanced from Jesus?
21. What part of yourself do you resist exposing to the light, fearing the risk of vulnerability or disapproval or loss of control?
22. In what way(s) is God calling you to deeper integrity and growth?
23. Ask God to reveal to you the things about yourself he wants you to know. Ask him to help you change in the ways he wants you to change and to grow in the ways he wants you to grow. Ask him to fill you with the power and confidence of His Spirit and to give you His courage to walk into the truth and the personal growth he wants you to experience. Praise God for the work he has begun in you and for his faithfulness to complete it!
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CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted February 2, 2002.