2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Now thanks be to God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and makes manifest the aroma of his knowledge by us in every place.…
I. THE MINISTRY IN ITS RELATION TO GOD.
1. It is "of God."
(1) As having been instituted by Him.
(2) Because He called men specially to occupy it.
2. It is under the special inspection of God. "In the sight of God speak we in Christ," Feeling this, Paul was particularly careful —
(1) Not to corrupt or adulterate the Word of God, to "make merchandise" of it — i.e., to make it more marketable by a little politic admixture of things more to the taste of the people.
(2) To be himself actuated in his work by the purest motives. "But as of sincerity." This sincerity applies to the preacher just as the incorruptibility applies to the gospel. Here, then, we have a pure preacher and a pure gospel.
3. It will be approved of God, whatever be its effects upon men (ver. 15). "Sweet savour" always indicates approval. This is the expression generally used to denote the acceptableness of an offering.
II. THE DIFFERENT EFFECTS OF THIS MINISTRY UPON MEN (ver. 16).
1. To the saved — life. The savour of life means that which produces life and nurtures it.
2. To the lost or perishing — death (2 Corinthians 4:3; 1 Peter 3:7, 8). There are certain conditions pertaining to certain men which convert the means of life into an instrument of death. The sun, which converts the generous soil into a fruitful garden, reduces the clay to the hardness of a stone. So is it morally, only with a great difference. The clay is not responsible, but men are responsible. One thing, then, is clear — no one will escape Without some effects from the ministry. What is there more beautiful than the sunbeams? Yet there are some objects which can convert them into a consuming fire. So there are moral characters which transform the loving, life-giving gospel into an instrument of destruction; in short, cause the God of love to become to them a consuming fire.
III. THE DEMAND OF THE MINISTRY UPON THE MINISTER.
1. The unspeakably solemn character of the results of the ministry demands the gravest and most prayerful thought, and the greatest anxiety for the salvation of souls. Note, for example, the surgeon when performing some critical surgical operation that might be for life or death to the patient. So careful and deeply anxious is he that he will not operate except in association with others. The preaching of the gospel is an inexpressibly solemn operation that may affect men for weal or for woe to eternity. And, knowing this, how natural to ask, "Who is sufficient for these things?"
2. But this sense of insufficiency ought not to be confounded with helplessness; on the contrary, it makes a minister all the more strenuous and unsparing in applying his entire energies to the work (Colossians 1:29).
IV. THE MINISTRY'S ENCOURAGEMENTS AND SOURCE OF CONFIDENCE. (ver. 14). Whatever be the difficulties of the work, however great our fears and deep our sense of insufficiency, over against them we have God assuring us the victory. Through God the gospel is always having the victory. Much as it has been opposed and persecuted, yet God has always caused it to triumph.
(A. J. Parry.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.