Just this past week, in our young adult gathering at my house, a meal was suggested for the next gathering. It was sauerkraut. So, for those who know me, you already are aware of my reaction, ”YUCK!” What you might not know is the first reason for my displeasure. It smells horrible…at least to me. Yet, for others, it causes great anticipation for a tasty meal. Here are some interesting things about our sense of smell. It is said that a human can detect as much as one trillion distinct smells. The scent cells in the human body are renewed every 30 to 60 days. And guys, it is said that woman have a better sense of smell than we do. Did you know that Christians give off a scent to the world around us? Consider these words from the apostle Paul.
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ,
and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
2nd Corinthians 2:14
The NIV uses the word “aroma” while the ETRV says “sweet-smelling perfume.” Once again, the understanding of words enables us to grasp the picture which Paul is talking about. First, the fragrance (aroma) is attributed to the triumph that is found only in Christ. This Greek word used here depicts “victorious generals who led triumphant processionals after a great victory.” In these processionals there would be incense that would be part of the public display of the victory that had be won. Along with that would be the display of the one’s conquered. So, what is Paul trying to get across? Through the work of Christ, Paul, who was once an enemy of the cross of Christ in his persecution of the church (Philippians 3:6) is now a prisoner for Christ (Ephesians 3:1; Philemon v1). Now held captive by the gospel of Christ, with hope and victory in his grasp, he “diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge” everywhere he goes. What he says next is powerful.
For we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being
saved and among those who are perishing.
2nd Corinthians 2:15
It is noteworthy to realize the subtle difference of the Greek word translated fragrance in v15. The Greek word Osme used in v14 can mean a good or bad smell, while Euodia is generally used to denote a pleasant smell. Christ is that pleasant smell that is cast among the people by Paul as he preaches the gospel. Here is the part of the processional that is hard to grasp, at least for us. You see, in that processional were not only the victors (those saved by the gospel), but also enemies doomed for execution (those who refuse Christ). The wonderful gospel message would produce two very different outcomes. Paul would say, “To one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life” (2nd Corinthians 2:16). Not everyone is going to see the gospel of Christ as a sweet-smelling message of hope, grace and truth, no matter how hard one might try.
Paul’s victorious journey in sharing the gospel was not linked to who did and who didn’t come to Christ. He walked in victory because of the joy he now had as a prisoner of Christ. His mission now was to share the fragrance of Christ with those he would come in contact with in his missionary journeys. Some would respond positively to what Paul shared concerning the gospel of Christ, while others would oppose him. Either way, Paul was victorious in Christ.