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2 Corinthians 2:12–14

“Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (v. 14).

Returning to what happened in the immediate aftermath of Paul’s “painful visit” to Corinth that he made after 1 Corinthians, the Apostle in 2 Corinthians 2:12–13 gives a further account of his travels. Having decided not to return so soon to Corinth, as he intended when he departed that city in much anguish, Paul went to Troas after sending a letter of rebuke to Corinth (v. 12). Troas was a port city in northwest Asia Minor from which ships were dispatched to various other ports in the Mediterranean Sea. Gospel ministry in Troas could have a far-reaching impact, since disciples made there could take the gospel elsewhere.

However, as today’s passage indicates, Paul did not stay long in Troas because he did not meet Titus there. From 2 Corinthians 7, we learn that Titus had carried Paul’s letter of reproof to Corinth and that he would have news of the Corinthians’ response. Apparently, Paul had agreed to meet Titus in Troas for an update and then to move on to Macedonia as a second meeting point if the two men’s travels did not overlap in Troas. Not finding Titus in Troas, Paul went to Macedonia. His spirit was restless because he was still worried about the situation at Corinth, not knowing yet that the Corinthians had responded to his letter with repentance and had disciplined the man who had opposed him (2:13; see vv. 5–11). Paul made this hard decision even though God had opened a door for ministry in Troas, presumably because if he stayed any longer than he did, he might miss Titus altogether. Note, however, that Paul later returned to Troas for a longer period of ministry, as recorded in Acts 20:1–12.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14, Paul breaks from his travel itinerary to begin a section (it continues until 7:1) on the nature of his new covenant ministry. The Apostle begins by thanking God that in and through all his travels, “Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2:14). Paul’s image comes from the victory parades of Roman generals wherein they would lead captured prisoners through a city to announce military triumphs. In these processions, the prisoners would be tasked with spreading incense. Paul is saying that he and the other Apostles are those whom Christ has captured, taking them from Satan, whom He defeated on the cross (see Col. 2:15). They are the prize of our Lord’s victory, and the sweet fragrance they spread is not that of incense but the precious truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 2:14).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

We may not be Apostles, but we are like the Apostles in being the prize that Christ won in defeating the devil. We are part of the joy that was set before Christ (Heb. 12:2), and we are part of His victory procession, called to spread the fragrance of the gospel wherever we go. Let us do that by telling others about Jesus and also by supporting the work and witness of the church through our prayers and financial support.


For Further Study
  • 1 Chronicles 13
  • Matthew 4:1–11
  • Mark 1:39
  • Hebrews 2:14–15

Stewarding Power

A Fragrance of Death and Life

Keep Reading Right Now Counts Forever

From the August 2021 Issue
Aug 2021 Issue