Summary: Thoughts of Paul’s miraculous encounter with Titus will evoke memories that cause a long reflection on the subject of the glory of the Christian ministry.
2 CORINTHIANS 2: 12-17 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
THE FRAGRANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN MINISTRY
Paul has been relating his personal situation and tying it to the situation in the Corinthian Church. These thoughts will evoke memories that cause a long reflection on the subject of the glory of the Christian ministry [until chapter 6 verse10]. Grateful we are for the Spirit’s leading in this joyful outburst of recollection of God’s reviving Paul by his reunion with Titus in Macedonia. For here starts full blown description of the wonder of all Christian ministry [be it clergy or laity]. These chapters reveal the rich depth of Paul’s character and his mature grasp of the great things which come from service to Christ. In spite of all the pressure, persecution, and opposition Paul had experienced, he thought of the ministry in terms of triumph and not of difficulty.
Paul’s reflection begins by disclosing the interval between his dispatch of Titus with the lost letter (2:4, 7:6-7) and Titus’ return to report on the condition in the Corinthian church. These were turbulent times and Paul learns afresh how dependent he was on God to accomplish anything of lasting value. But ministry does accomplish much, for God is in it.
I. RESTLESS IN SPIRIT; (12-13).
II. LED IN TRIUMPH; (14a).
III. FRAGRANT AROMA; (14b-16a).
IV. SPEAKING IN CHRIST; (16b-17).
Verse 12 relays that God open the door for Paul to begin a fruitful ministry in Troas. “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord,”
Paul had planned to rendezvous with Titus at Troas and learn of the Corinthian situation and their reaction to his letter. He and Titus were going to minister at Troas, an Asian City and a favored Roman Colony. [Alexandria] Troas was where land and sea travel transfer occurred making it ideal center for missionary activity. Even beyond the need was the fact that God had opened a door for the gospel by giving Paul favorable opportunity to preach Jesus Christ with power and conviction. This was exactly what Paul asked believers to pray for (Col 4:3; 1 Cor. 16:9). Yet the weight of concern for the Corinthian church takes precedence over the rich harvest in Troas.
We learn in verse 13 that the evangelization of the lost was overridden by his concern for the Corinthians. “I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia.”
Paul’s hopes for a great harvest were crashed when Titus failed to rendevous with him. Titus was a Greek convert whom Paul loved and trusted (the book of Titus is a letter that Paul wrote to him). Titus was one of the men trusted with collecting the money for the poverty stricken Jerusalem church (8:6). And was probably sent with the sorrowful letter. When Titus did not appear in Troas, Paul became concerned for Titus safety. Since He might have been carrying the collection for Jerusalem and could have fallen prey to bandits or was hurt by the offended part of the Corinthian congregation. Paul thus left Troas to search for him in Macedonia. In Philippi Paul found him (7:5-6) and the good news that Paul received (7: 8-16) led to this letter. Paul would then send his faithful disciple Titus back to Corinth with this letter (8:16,17).
II. LED IN TRIUMPH (14a)
How do you find one person among hundreds of thousands of people when he could be any place within hundreds of miles? Paul felt that finding Titus was a miracle. Only God could have lead them together without phone, e-mail or face-book to help reunite. To Paul this reunion confirmed that he was being led by God. When God is at work, there are no coincidences.
Remembering God sovereign watch care Paul bursts into praise in verse 14. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ.”
In the middle of discussing his unscheduled trip to Macedonia, a sudden outburst of gratitude replaces the previous concern for what evil could be occurring in Corinth and needing to leave the fruitful ministry in Troas. It is characteristic for Paul to break off from a thought in order to praise God for His unfailing goodness which remains constant through all the changing circumstances and tensions of our human experience. This explosion of thankful remembrance will last for at least 5 chapters.
Even when it does not seem possible, when one walks in Christ, God always leads in triumph. Realizing that present triumph let Paul see how God was leading him in Christ’s triumph, even in the days when the dark prince of death stalked him as he reported in chapter 1 and in his concern for the Corinthians and then for Titus. How unfailing he has been led in triumph.