Saturday, July 02, 2011

How Do You Smell?

 2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?

15 ὅτι Χριστοῦ εὐωδία ἐσμὲν τῷ θεῷ ἐν τοῖς σῳζομένοις καὶ ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις, 16  οἷς μὲν ὀσμὴ ἐκ θανάτου εἰς θάνατον, οἷς δὲ ὀσμὴ ἐκ ζωῆς εἰς ζωήν. καὶ πρὸς ταῦτα τίς ἱκανός;

I have to admit that I did not get a lot out of this chapter when I read it in Greek. Paul's language is rather figurative, which made it hard for me to see what he was getting at. However, this is one passage that did make sense. There is no special exegetical clue that jumps out of the Greek. The ESV captures it very well.

But what does it mean? It means that we should not become too discouraged in our evangelism. To those who are perishing we are a fragrance of death to them. Death stinks. The house I grew up in had these huge windows in the living room. One of them was like a magnet for robins. I can remember playing outside the house on summer days and discovering the sickly-sweet smell of rotting robin. It's not a pleasant smell. In fact, it is repulsive.

The words σῳζομένοις and ἀπολλυμένοις are present passive participles, just as you see in the ESV. Given what we know about the nature of election from Ephesians 1, I would maintain that those who are not elect will always find the gospel to be repulsive because it is a message of death. But to the elect it is a wonderful aroma of life. 

However, we need to be careful here. I think that there is still room for someone being "broken down" by the gospel. In other words, most who hear the gospel for the first time do not immediately repent and believe. Yet some of them eventually will. What I'm getting at is that we cannot give up on someone just because of a single rejection of the gospel. But we also cannot be too discouraged when people do not believe because the gospel is going to be an aroma of death to them.

How do you see the gospel? Is it an aroma of life or death? If it is life to you, what are you doing to spread the gospel?

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