Summary: The Gospel is an "aroma" of life for some and death for others
Heroes, in Paul’s day, were usually great generals, leaders of mighty armies, and
conquerors of nations. Really it is the same today. That is why we know whom Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great is. These men whose fame and fortune came from desolated cities and enslaved people—were allowed what was called a “triumph.” A triumph probably looked much like Times Square in NYC looked on New Year’s Eve. A triumphal procession was arranged in their honor and this was the event for any Roman general. The general was received at the city gate by the nobles and wealthy of the city and was led through the streets of the city. The streets were crowded with shouting people and adoring fans.
The parade was in a very specific order. First, the older Roman senators would walk and simply by their presence you knew what was coming was important. Then, other leading men of the city would follow behind them—leading merchants, government officials, and other politicians. Then, then came the trumpeters ringing out the huge sound above the crowds. They were announcing the real beginning of the celebration. Following the trumpeters, were carriages and wagons full of the spoils of war. The most beautiful and rare items were out on display for all to see. Look what this general has done! On a flat wagon, there might be a model of a fort or city that had been conquered. Then in cages, animals of the region would be on display. Gold and silver statues or perhaps articles dedicated to these defeated people’s gods.
Then, there were servants who carried censers filled with perfumes, burning incense, and other fine materials that sent a sweet smelling aroma into the air and onto the ground and into the crowds. The wonderful smell was everywhere. This would have been quite a change from the animal smell or the other aromas of so many people in such crowded spaces. The aroma filled the air.
But, the “triumph” was far from over. After the servants, came the conquered. They would march in chains, humiliated and defeated. These people were the leaders, conquered generals, and other soldiers who had been captured. Look at what this general has done!!
And then… Majestic white horses would come into view and here was the conquering hero. He would stand in this splendid chariot adorned with gold and silver and carried a royal scepter in his hand. After him would come his officers and honored soldiers. They would march all through the city until they reach the capitol building. Some captives would be killed. Some animals offered in sacrifice. But always, there was a great feast waiting. Look at what this general has done!
I. PAUL’S USE OF THE WORD PICTURE
Paul obviously had seen such a display in his life, probably more than once. He had this
parade or “triumph” picture in his mind as he thought about our roles in telling others about Jesus Christ. We are allowed to parade in with Christ, the ultimate victor, through the grace of God. Paul could not help but think about the chained humiliated conquered ones. What is the sound of the trumpet to them? What was the aroma to them?