2 Corinthians 2:12-17
Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened to me of the Lord,…
Quite abruptly St. Paul mentions that he came to Troas. Why he left Ephesus he does not say, but we infer it was because of his anxiety to see Titus, and hear from him how his letter to the Corinthians had been received. There was a fine opening at Troas to preach the gospel, and yet he was greatly disquieted as Titus did not meet him. "Taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia." Here he met Titus, though, in the excitement of joy, he fails to state it. The sudden outburst of gratitude, "Thanks be unto God," expresses his exultation over the good tidings Titus had brought from Corinth, so that here, as is frequently the case, we get the outward history of events from the biography of the apostle's heart. All he had expected, and even more, had been realized, and he breaks forth in thanksgiving.
"Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread or lowly creep,
Witness if I be silent, morn or ev'n,
To hill or valley, fountain or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise." St. Paul was not a silent man in his happiness. No depth of emotion satisfied him unless it could be imparted to others. On this occasion his soul found utterance in thanking God, "which always causeth us to triumph in Christ." A military triumph rises before him; the victorious general is returning to the capital; the long procession moves before his eye; and, in the train, the captives brought homo are conspicuous. Such a captive is the apostle following the chariot of his Lord. "Yet (at the same time, by a characteristic change of metaphor) an incense bearer, scattering incense (which was always done on these occasions), as the procession moves on" (Conybeare and Howson). Christ is the fragrance; "we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ." Whether men are saved or lost, Christ is Christ, and the fragrance cannot perish. There will be a "savour of death unto death" and a "savour of life unto life;" but, in either issue, the glory of God's government is maintained. For, so far as we can see into the relations of Christ to man and of man to Christ, the fundamental fact in each aspect of the subject is human freedom. Of his own freewill Christ took upon himself our flesh and blood, suffered, and died; and of our own free will, made such by him and acted on as such by the Holy Spirit, we accept his atonement. If we reject the offered mercy, the act of our rejection testifies to the infinitude of the mercy, and the "savour of Christ" is none the less "sweet" in itself, "And who is sufficient for these things?" Here is no one-sided gospel, that accommodates conscience to taste, and allows a compromise between duty and inclination. Here is a gospel that is the "savour of death unto death" and of "life unto life." Who is competent to maintain its stern truthfulness by preaching both these doctrines? The test of a faithful minister lies in the wise and earnest use of each class of facts. Is anything so difficult? Take the natural intellect; take the natural affections; take language as the vehicle of expression; and by what power of culture can a preacher be found who can set forth the gospel in its twofoldness of "death unto death" and "life unto life"? St. Paul, in the seventeenth verse, answers the question as to sufficiency. Now, as always, it is not simply the gospel which is the power and wisdom of God, but his way of preaching it. He declares that "many corrupt the Word of God;" not of this number is he. And where does the danger of corruption exist? In not holding with a balanced mind the "death" and the "life," so as to shun overstatements and understatements in each instance. To preach after St. Paul's manner, one must have sincerity - the truth unmixed with human speculations; he must preach what God has revealed as to his Law and its righteousness, no more, no less; and he must preach it in Christ, himself in Christ, his gospel in Christ, and so preach as to spirit and temper and manner that the fragrance shall breathe in all his words. - L.
Parallel VersesKJV: Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,