Boletim dos Obreiros

The Trust of Ministry

2 Corinthians 2:14 to 3:3

In the above passage, Paul presents outstanding arguments that establish the reliability of the evangelistic ministry that the Christian is responsible for:

a) The unparalleled triumph of the Gospel

b) The fragrance of the Gospel impersonated in the Christian

c) The divine authenticity of the preaching of the Gospel

d) The true letter of commendation: the fruit of the Gospel manifested in the Christian

Here's how he exposes the subject:

1. The unparalleled triumph of the Gospel (v. 14) - The word "triumph" in the original is a word which suggests the triumphal processions of Roman emperors and generals, bringing their captives in large lines. Some would be sacrificed to the gods, others would be rewarded with life. The expression appears again only in Colossians 2:15. Paul considers himself as a slave (according to Romans 1:1), carried triumphantly in the retinue of Christ (Ephesians 4:8). We take the following thoughts out of that precious text:

Victory belongs to God - Paul says it is "God who always leads us in triumph". It is a fact planned by the Father before the foundation of the world, completed at the right time determined by Him;
It was won in Christ - Jesus Christ was the faithful executor of the plan of the Father. The victory was won at Calvary and is manifested in the victorious life of each one of us.
Believers participate in it - Paul asserts, "leads us." Every believer is placed within the privilege of being led in triumph. Paul here refers not to the future resurrection, but to the present experience of victory, through the manifestation of the Gospel in us and through us (Romans 8:37).
a) The news of this victory is always disclosed - Paul says that the fragrance "diffuses … in every place." Wherever the faithful Christian goes he will be manifesting the news of the victory of Gospel ministry.

b) It must motivate our continuing gratitude to God - Paul begins by saying "Thanks be to God." We should never fail to express our gratitude to God for the privilege of being led in triumph, as a result of the effectiveness of the ministry of the Gospel!

c) The perpetuity of victory - Note that Paul says "always." What God does is final and immovable!

2. The fragrance of the Gospel impersonated in the Christian (vs. 15-16) - The terms "fragrance" (v.14,15) and "aroma" (v.16) are the same words originally associated with the sacrifices (see Genesis 8:21 ; Exodus 29:18), and is introduced here, where Paul recalls the incense that was used in triumphal processions. The apostle had spread everywhere the knowledge of God, just as the person who carried the censer spread the fragrance of incense. “We are to God the fragrance of Christ" refers to the work of the Gospel messengers. Preaching the Word produces a double effect:

a) "Among those who are being saved " – “the aroma of life leads to life” (John 3:19, 9:39, 15:22, 16:8 et seq; Acts 13:4 ff; 28:25, 28); those who accept the Word are "saved."

b) "Among those who are perishing” – “the aroma of death leads to death”, as a consequence of the refusal to hear the Word. The phrase "of death to death" probably indicates the transition of spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1) to eternal death (Revelation 2:11, 20:14, 21:8).

3. The divine authenticity of the preaching of the Gospel (v. 17) - The Apostle in no way mitigates the rigour of the gospel message to make it more acceptable to human thought. The original expression (gr = kapeleou) has the meaning of "adulterating", referring to the activities of peddlers who meddle with the goods they offer in order to able to sell them. It's what many are doing today with the Gospel, counterfeiting it to achieve their selfish purposes and not the noble design of the Lord; this is the gospel to the customer’s taste! The divine authenticity of the message preached by Paul was defined in four aspects:

a) Source – he spoke as from God

b) Manifest – he spoke in the sight of God

c) Sphere of action – he spoke in Christ (as 13:3)

d) Attitude - He spoke with sincerity.

4. The true letter of commendation: fruit of the Gospel manifested in the Christian (3:1-3) - the recommendation of teachers to other churches was the practice (Acts 18:27). It seems that some teachers had visited Corinth, bringing such letters, perhaps written by the elders of Jerusalem. Paul argues that possession of such documents does not guarantee the truth of the teaching of the master that exhibits them. The best judgment was done through the fruit of their labour. Thus, those who had been converted by his ministry in Corinth were his letter, which, if properly read, was sufficient recommendation.

The work of the Spirit in the lives of the Corinthians was recommendation enough for the work of Paul. Under the new covenant established by the blood of Christ (Matthew 26:28), the Holy Spirit writes God's law, “not on tablets of stone”, as occurred in Sinai (Exodus 31:18), but on "tablets of the heart." Therefore, the believer has God's law in the heart and by the power of the Spirit, can keep it (see Jeremiah 31:33, Ezekiel 11:19).

This inner law consists in loving God and neighbour (Matthew 22:34-40, Romans 13:8-10). From the term "again", repeated at 5:12, we can conclude that the teachers, opponents of Paul, were accusing him of having recommended himself, and then remembered that this credential did not inspire much confidence, compared with the letters they bore. Later, at 10:12, Paul makes this charge turn against them. The term "clearly you are an epistle of Christ" is an awesome phrase, which refers to the message proclaimed by the witness of the life of the believer, when directed by the "Spirit of the living God."

Conclusion: God wants to see us involved, fully committed and effective, in the exercise of the glorious Gospel ministry. It is an unheard of privilege to participate in it. We must employ ourselves in it resolutely and with dedication, rested in its undisputed reliability, expounded with solid foundation by Paul in his precious teaching now explained.