2 Corinthians 2:12-17 A Fragile, Victorious Life

by | Apr 5, 2023 | 2 Corinthians, New Testament

I. Paul’s Continued Explanation Re. His Choices Vs. 12, 13

A. The Physical Situation

1. After visiting the Corinthians, Paul departed for Troas, and then Macedonia.

2. The visit in Corinth had gone badly. Paul previously wanted to return there, but didn’t.

3. He arrived in Troas, and there was an open door there to preach, but he didn’t stay.

4. He went on to Macedonia.

B. The Emotional Situation

1. Paul was emotionally conflicted. He was hurt, misunderstood, and worried.

2. He was being discredited by his spiritual children, the Corinthians.

3. He had to defend himself against false accusations.

4. He was worried about the church being led astray by false teachers.

5. He was hoping to reconcile with the Corinthians, but it wasn’t working out.

6. He went to Troas to preach, and there was a great opportunity that God gave him.

7. Paul had planned on meeting Titus in Troas, to hear if the Corinthians received Paul’s words written in the “the severe letter”, written between 1 & 2 Corinthians.

8. But Titus didn’t make it to Troas, and so Paul walked away from this “open door”.

9. Paul and Titus eventually met in Macedonia. (2 Corinthians 7:5-7)

10. Paul was criticized by the Corinthians as being unreliable and doubleminded.

II. Paul’s View Of Following Jesus

A. When We Follow Jesus, It’s Always A Victory V. 14a

1. Paul was agonizing over the Corinthians. He worried about their relationship.

2. Paul could have felt defeated. He left an “open door” partly because emotions.

3. Even though there was a great opportunity to preach in Troas, Paul wasn’t up to it.

4. Even though Paul was suffering greatly re. his emotions, he was still led by God.

5. Ministry experts would have criticized him for leaving. He could have criticized himself.

6. Paul was a preacher. He lived to preach. Yet he felt so unsettled, he left this open door.
1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!

7. Both in staying in Troas, and in leaving, Paul was being led in triumph.

8. V.14 – Somehow, Paul untangled himself from his emotions, and was able to follow God.

9. However Paul’s situation looked to others; however it felt to him; Paul was able to be led by God, and to consider that leading a triumph. He said that it was always a triumph.

10. Application – It is important for us to not judge ourselves or others when we make a decision that seems to contradict something else that seems obvious.

11. Application – It is also important to fight through our emotions and to be led by God, to the point where we say, “God is leading me into triumph”.

B. When We Follow Jesus, We Make Him Known V. 14b

1. Christians are called and equipped to bring the knowledge of Jesus to people.

2. It happens when we are in close and regular communion with Jesus.

a. We take on the fragrance of Christ, and we unconsciously carry it with us everywhere.

b. Our actions and speech are different. There is more grace, love, mercy, holiness, etc.

c. Life is viewed and measured by the truths of God as opposed to the opinions of man.

d. People are able to notice that our lives are different because of Jesus.

e. People may notice the difference in our lives, and they may ask us what we believe.

f. A Christian’s Christ resembling life ought to give them more credibility with people.

g. A Christ like life should keep us from being seen as hypocrites.

h. If a Christian loses credibility with other people, they can only blame themselves.

3. The Christian also makes Jesus known by speaking about Him.

a. A Christian living a godly life makes a good impression, and can inspire people, but actions alone do not explain the Gospel.

b. Even nature points to power and existence of God, but it doesn’t explain the Gospel.

c. There is a phrase that is mistakenly attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

i. “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

ii. The statement implies that we can communicate the fullness of the Gospel message through good actions alone, but that is not true. The Gospel must be explained.

d. Romans 10:14, 15, 17 14How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” 17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

4. If you are a Christian who is not diffusing the knowledge of Jesus, consider two things.

a. We take on the fragrance of whatever we are close to. Stay close to Jesus.

b. Speak of Jesus. Share your testimony. Learn apologetics/pre-evangelism. Study the Bible. Pray for boldness and a broken heart for the lost. tellsomeone.harvest.org

C. People’s Responses To Our Lives/The Gospel Vs. 15, 16

1. Vs.15, 16a – Paul says that the Christian’s life/Gospel has two opposite effects on people.

2. To some, the Gospel feels like death, to others it is life. (See John 3:16-21)

3. Paul’s imagery is from the Roman procession of triumph.
Barclay -“In a Triumph the procession of the victorious general marched through the streets of Rome to the Capitol. First came the state officials and the senate. Then came the trumpeters. Then were carried the spoils taken from the conquered land . Then came the pictures of the conquered land and models of conquered citadels and ships. There followed the white bull for sacrifice which would be made. Then there walked the captive princes, leaders and generals in chains, shortly to be flung into prison and in all probability almost immediately to be executed. Then came the lictors bearing their rods, followed by the musicians with their lyres; then the priests swinging their censers with the sweet-smelling incense burning in them. After that came the general himself. Finally came the army wearing all their decorations and shouting Io triumph! Their cry of triumph. As the procession moved through the streets, all decorated and garlanded, amid the cheering crowds, it made a tremendous day which might happen only once in a lifetime.”

D. Recognizing The Great Responsibility Of The Gospel Vs. 16b-17

1. V.16b -Sufficient- able, worthy, capable, enough.

a. Paul answered this in 2 Corinthians 3:5, 6

b. Paul did not feel innately sufficient or able to do this ministry.

c. He recognized that God made him able to do it.

d. Remember that Paul is still explaining, defending, and pastoring.

e. Though Paul’s “detours” were triumphant, he didn’t take the credit.

2. V.17 – The false apostles thought that they were sufficient to do this ministry.

a. In their own eyes, they felt completely capable to serve God.

b. Peddling – to be a retailer, to make money by selling, to corrupt or adulterate.

c. Like watering down wine for profit. They had false messages and selfish motives.