Summary: The importance of a Christian’s "fragrance" (according to Paul).
CHRISTIAN SCENTS…. 7/13/2008 (Intercession City Community Wesleyan)
2 COR. 2:14-16
2 Corinthians is Paul’s defense of his actions and apostleship. It seems that since his first letter to the Corinthians, what has happened, is that false teachers had come into town and were discrediting Paul and his message. They claimed that he was not a true apostle, and the gospel he was preaching was not true, and that he was not even qualified to preach this gospel. So, Paul has sent Titus to Corinth to take care of these issues. And he does. This letter is Paul’s letter to the Corinthians expressing his gratitude for their change of heart, and to appeal the few who are still not convinced that Paul is not qualified to be an apostle and preach the gospel. This is a deeply personal book. Paul opens up his heart and pours it all out to the Corinthians. Through this book we can see the true heart of an apostle. We can see the heart, attitude, and mind set, that we as Christians must demonstrate. The same things that qualify Paul as a Christ follower, a person to spread the gospel and share God’s Word are the same things that qualify us. We come in at the beginning of his defense…
This passage is full of imagery and word-pictures.
Here Paul alludes to the Roman custom of celebrating a triumph in battle.
When a Roman general returned victorious from battle, after gaining new lands, obtaining contraband, and capturing its citizens, he would be met with a great procession. The general would ride in a gold chariot. He would be followed by his soldiers, the senate magistrates, musicians, priests, and captives. The priests carried censers filled with burning incense, that let off fragrances in honor of the god, Jupiter. Some commentators suggest that people would throw flowers onto the road, and as the procession trampled over them their scent would be released into the air. This scent, this fragrance, could be smelled throughout the town, the procession was coming! Everyone knew what this scent meant. To the Roman soldiers this scent meant life, victory, celebration. To the captives it meant death and destruction.
As Christians we have a part, both, as a victor, and as a captive.
It is our victory to be taken captive, to be captured, by Christ. Paul says it is our privilege to be led in the victory “procession” of Christ. It is our joy to fight for the cause of Christ, because we get the privilege of following in his train, or procession. It is no matter what difficulties or trials may come our way, we are led by a conquerer. Our main interest should be, that our lives are taken captive by Christ, and we remain captivated by Him.
He has total control of our lives. We no longer have to be anxious, or worry, we have been captured by a conquerer. Our plans, goals, ambitions, lives are now controlled by a Victorious Christ.
One commentator stated this verse literally reads to, “Take captive so as to preserve alive.” If it was not for Christ pursuing, and capturing us we would be dead in our sins, we would be bound for eternal damnation. But, if Christ has captured us, He has captured us to live. We can have life!
Oswald Chambers says this, “It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. The Victor ought to have got us so completely that it is His victory all the time, and we are more than conquerors through Him.”
We should count it all joy to be conquered by Christ!
These verses demonstrate more imagery and word-pictures. Here we see the image of a sweet smelling perfume or fragrance.
As I studied this scripture, I studied a little about perfumes. I found a few interesting facts about perfume that I think will make Paul’s word-picture clear to us.
-During the Renaissance period, perfumes were used by royalty and the wealthy to mask body odors resulting from the sanitary practices of the day (no baths).
-Perfumes are created by mixing different scent (scent categories) together. The categories are a mixture of Floral, Oriental, Woody, and Fresh (and their sub categories, soft, mossy, citrus, etc.).. Due to the fact that the undiluted oils are toxic and unstable, they are diluted with a solvent. The concentration of the solvent produces a different level of fragrance (perfume extract, Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Cologne). “As the percentage of aromatic compounds increases, so does the intensity and longevity of the scent created.”
-A lot of fragrances today are synthetic, as opposed to natural/organic. However, the synthetic scents are extracted from the raw material and purified. There are several methods used to accomplish this.