2Co 2:15-17 “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”
In the previous verses of this chapter, Paul has described a situation in which the church was obedient to his instruction in his letter we refer to as First Corinthians. He also instructs them in being forgiving and restoring a brother so that he is not overcome with sorrow. He then relates some of his desire and difficulty as he went preaching the gospel of Christ.
Paul then makes a statement that should cause every minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ to fall on his face in reverence and humility to God. We are unto God a sweet savor of Christ. Not as though we are anything of ourselves, but that in spite of what we are by nature, the grace of God has been so bestowed upon us that it is the sweet aroma of our Lord and Saviour that goes up to God. In this as in all other matters, God is not a respecter of persons.
His preached word is a sweet savor in them that are saved. The gospel of Jesus Christ assures us of His death, burial, and resurrection. We are able to preach and to understand this gospel only because the Holy Ghost has revealed unto us this holy truth. It is not by our will or our labor, but by the mercy of God (Rom 9:16). The same word of truth that tells us of our eternal deliverance in Him also instructs us concerning our daily deliverance (saving) in our obedience to His word.
The very same word that is a sweet savor of Christ in them that are delivered is also the sweet savor of Christ in them that perish. His gospel that is so sweet and precious to the believing, obedient child of God is a word of destruction and condemnation in the disobedient. His word is true in either circumstance and therefore is the sweet savor of Christ in either circumstance.
The preaching of the cross is the savor of death to the foolish (1Co 1:18). Preaching that same cross is the power of God to those who are delivered. Whether the preaching is heard by them that perish or those that are saved, it is still by the authority of God. We do not determine who hears and who rejects: we are not sufficient for these things.
It is interesting to note that the definition of the Greek word that was translated as “corrupt” in verse seventeen means “a huckster, to retail (adulterate).” In other words, there are those who try to parcel out the word of God for gain in a way that profits them. May we, like Paul, testify that we are not as these. Let us preach the pure word of God clearly (of sincerity). Let us preach the word of God as it comes from God.
Finally, we rest assured that when we preach the gospel of Christ, we do so standing in the presence of God. We preach the truth He gives while standing before His face. How fearful and marvelous it is to be called to handle the gospel of our Lord and Savior!
May we always remember, with fear and trembling, that to speak in Christ is to speak of God, standing in His holy presence!