Vs. 12-13 – Paul had left Ephesus for Troas. He might have stayed there but his spirit was made restless over his concern about not hearing from Titus about the Corinthian church.
Can you imagine the Apostol Paul? He has been run out of Ephesus, most likely being forced to leave because of his preaching of the Gospel and the Demetrius riot (Acts 19). He goes to Tro-aus, but while there becomes restless in his spirit, even though the Lord had opened a door for the preaching of the Gospel, he is having deep concern about where Titus is and what happened in Corinth with his letter of “many tears.”
The uncertainty and fear over the situations in Corinth, coupled with Titus’s non-arrival, has pushed Paul on to Macedonia in hopes of meeting up with Titus there, hopefully, with news about the Corinthians. In Macedonia he does meet up with Titus and has received a good report on the Corinthians and from there writes this letter.
We, too, are pushed into doing things that set aside the sharing of the Gospel. Was this restlessness of Paul a tool of the enemy to keep the Gospel from spreading in Tro-aus? We don’t know, but we can take comfort in the fact of Romans 8:28… things worked for the good of Paul and Corinth. But, this should make us aware of things the enemy can use against us – distractions and worries – things that cause us to lose focus on the open doors our Lord provides.
Paul has struggled with the trials, troubles, and tribulations of spreading the Gospel. Now we see the upside of ministry, the blessings of God, the confidence that he has in God, because of having faith, and trusting Him through those same trials, troubles, and tribulations.
Vs. 14-17 – God’s word, the Good news of salvation in Jesus Christ, is going out into all the world. The Corinthians are a part of spreading that Gospel by their actions of repentance and submittance to the will of God. While the ‘us’ and ‘we’ in this part of the letter were Paul and the rest of the apostles; that ‘us’ and ‘we’ now applies to the church as a whole, to each and every Christ follower, each and every disciple of Christ, to you and to me. WE are to be spreading the aroma of knowledge of Christ everywhere we go.
“Smell,” said Helen Keller, “is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived.” There are smells, that in the blink of an eye, take me back to my Grandmother Seidler’s; the memories automatically come tumbling in. Laughter, Koolaid, and her love for us… But there are other smells passing all in an instant.
The triumphal procession of Christ has not ended. As a member of His Church, you are in that procession and, through you, the aroma of knowledge of Jesus is spread. Think coffee shop, bakery…that is what being around a Christian is to be like. The constant aroma of Christ should be inhaled by all your “neighbors.”
But there will be some people that think the Gospel stinks, to some we are an aroma of death leading to death. If you have ever tried to share the gospel and been rejected keep in mind, first and foremost, that they are not rejecting you but Jesus and the message of life you are offering them.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18 Paul states, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.”
To those that think the gospel stinks, that the message you are witness to stinks, to them it smells of death. There are things they want to keep alive in their lives that should be put to death in Christians (Read Colossians 3:5-17).
The aroma of death, that you have to them, is because of what has died in your life, “For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). They do not smell the aroma of the sacrifice, but the stench of decay.
So, the smell they get is dependent on them, not you; on if they are accepting of the gospel or not. It is not your delivery or that you did a poor job. They just don’t like what God is offering or the cost of discipleship: the death of sin and the old life, a turning to God and being a part of His Church, His Kingdom. Yes, there are church attenders who are unwilling to pay the cost who will ultimately pay with their eternal souls (See Matthew 7:21-23).
This calling to share the Gospel that you have is difficult, if not impossible, for us to do—in and of ourselves we are inadequate for these things. But, let me remind you of something… (Romans 5:5).
We are enabled and empowered with the Holy Spirit, the Spirt of Christ: “Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:10-11).
Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray for my brothers and sisters, I pray for us, that Your Word would spread rapidly and be honored throughout our communities. That you would deliver us from wicked and evil people, for not all have faith. But You, Lord, are faithful. Lord strengthen us and guard us from the evil one. We have confidence in you Lord, and God. Direct our hearts to follow you in the love and endurance of Jesus our Lord.
- Are your words and actions a pleasing aroma to those who are being saved?
Further Reading: Jeremiah 31:33, Romans 8:2-3, Hebrews 8:10, Hebrews 10:16, 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24, 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5, Colossians 3, Romans 12, Romans 8:11