on 2-corinthians 2 :15
For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ - The apostle still alludes to the case of a triumph; the conqueror always represented the person of Jupiter; as even the heathens supposed that God alone could give the victory: and as the punishment of death was inflicted on some of the captives, who had often rebelled and broken leagues and covenants; so others were spared, made tributaries, and often became allies. Alluding to this, the apostle says: We are a sweet savour to God - we have fulfilled his will in faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, and fighting against sin. And as he has determined that those who believe shall be saved, and those who believe not shall perish, we are equally acceptable to him though we unsuccessfully preach the Gospel to some who obstinately reject it, and so perish, as we are in preaching to others who believe, and are saved.
on 2-corinthians 2 :15
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.
on 2-corinthians 2 :15
2:15 For we - The preachers of the gospel. Are to God a sweet odour of Christ - God is well - pleased with this perfume diffused by us, both in them that believe and are saved, treated of, 2Cor 3:1; 2Cor 4:2; and in them that obstinately disbelieve and, consequently, perish, treated of, 2Cor 4:3 -