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The Right Stuff       2 Cor.2:14-17; 3:4-5,18; 4:1-2, 5-6, 16-18       April 11. 2010



1.    The Right Stuff Makes Us . . Smell Good. 2 Cor 2:14-17

14 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.

15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?

17 For we are not, as so many,* peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ. NKJV


( Dake Annotated Reference Bible.)

Verse 14         b [savour] Greek: osme (NT:3744), aroma (2 Cor 2:14,16; John 12:3; Eph 5:2; Phil 4:18). Such a triumph in Christ as described here makes manifest the aroma of His saving knowledge by triumphant ministers wherever they serve.

Verse 15         To the saved they are an aroma (see note b, 2 Cor 2:14) of life unto life. To the unsaved they are an aroma of death unto death. This is another way of saying, whoever receives the gospel will be saved and whoever rejects it will be lost. The preached gospel saves saints and damns sinners.

Verse 16         Next, 2 Cor 3:1. Are the false apostles that lead you astray able to do these things?

Verse 17         Verse 15 adulterate. Only here, but the word kapelos occurs in the Septuagint in Isa 1:22 of tavern keepers who mix wine with water. The idea here is that the false apostles who were disturbing the Corinthians (2 Cor 11:13-15) were mixing the Word of God with their own inventions and were explaining it away to accommodate their hearers to get gain..

                       [sincerity] Sincerity here refers to keeping the Word of God pure, and to delivering it in purity.( Dake Annotated Reference Bible.)


 Ryrie Study Bible:

2:17 False teachers peddled the Word for profit, whereas Paul had preached free of charge.

( Ryrie Study Bible: Expanded Edition © 1986, 1995 by the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.)



2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Whenever a victorious general returned home from battle, Rome gave him a public parade, not unlike our modern ticker-tape parades.

In the "Christian parade" Paul describes, Jesus Christ is the Victor. Through His death on the cross, He has conquered every foe. We Christians ride in that procession with Him, sharing His victory (1 Cor 15:57).

"Our sufficiency is of God." Paul uses this word "sufficient" several times in this letter. Christ is sufficient for our spiritual needs (3:4-6), our material needs (9:8), and our physical needs (12:7-10).

(from Wiersbe's Expository Outlines.)



(2:14). Paul likened his ministry to a Roman victory parade, during which the successful general (Jesus) would lead both conquerors (the saved) and captives (the unsaved) to their respective destinies (2:14). From the parade would ascend the fragrance of burning incense. To the captives, it was the smell of death; to the conquerors it was the savor of life (2:15-16).

Willmington's Bible Handbook


 Life Application Study Bible

2:16, 17 Paul asks "who is adequate" for the task of representing Christ? Our adequacy is always from God (1 Cor 15:10; 2 Cor 3:5). He has already commissioned and sent us (see Matt 28:18-20). He has given us the Holy Spirit to enable us to speak with Christ's power.

( Life Application Study Bible.)



2.    The Right Stuff Makes Us . . Sufficient. 2 Cor. 3:4-5

4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God.

5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, NKJV


Life Application Study Bible Copyright

3:6 "The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life" means that trying to be saved by keeping the Old Testament laws will end in death. Only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ can a person receive eternal life through the Holy Spirit.

(Life Application Study Bible.)



3.    The Right Stuff Leads Us To Renounce The Things Of . . Shame. 2 Cor. 3:18-4:2

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.


4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.

2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. NKJV



Verse 18

The law was veiled in types and shadows of good things to come (Heb 10:1). The gospel has practically no ceremonies in comparison. Baptism and the Lord's Supper are the only two outward rituals. The gospel is in such simplicity that there can be no confusion as to its terms and blessings.


Chapter 4:1

Six duties in view of mercy and ministry:

1. To faint not (2 Cor 4:1). 2. To renounce the shameful secret things. 3. Not walking in craftiness (2 Cor 4:2).

4. Not handling the Word of God deceitfully (2 Cor 4:2). 5. Manifesting the truth to all people (2 Cor 4:2).

6. Maintaining a clear conscience before God and man (2 Cor 4:2).



Verse 2a [hidden things of dishonesty] Literally, the secret things of shame; the things that wicked people do and which they are ashamed to have known.

The false teachers at Corinth were clever, cunning, and capable of any thing harmful to a foe.


These gifts are the means God has chosen to make visible the truth of the gospel. Paul confirmed and made visible his preaching by a demonstration of it in signs, wonders, different miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit (Dake Annotated Reference Bible.)


(Ryrie Study Bible:)

3:18 with unveiled face, beholding. Paul builds on the experience of Moses in Ex 34:29-35. We Christians, he says, behold constantly Christ's divine glory, and this beholding changes or transforms us from glory to glory; i.e., from one degree of glory to another.


4:1 we do not lose heart. Cf. verse 16; Luke 18:1; Gal 6:9; Eph 3:13; 2 Thess 3:13. Paul credits his effectiveness to the mercy of God.

(from Ryrie Study Bible: Expanded Edition © 1986, 1995 by the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.)



(from Wiersbe's Expository

In v. 18, Paul illustrates the meaning of sanctification and growing in grace. He compares the Word of God to a mirror ("glass" James 1:23-25). When the people of God look into the Word of God and see the glory of God, the Spirit of God transforms them to be like the Son of God (Rom 8:29). "Changed" in this verse is the same as the Gk. word for "transformed" in Rom 12:2 and "transfigured" in Matt 17:2, and explains how we have our minds renewed in Christ. The Christian is not in bondage and fear; we can go into the very presence of God and enjoy His glory and grace. We do not have to wait for Christ to return to become like Him; we can daily grow "from glory to glory" (v. 18).


His Determination (4:1)

Why would Paul keep on preaching, with all the dangers and toils involved, if he were not sincere? A man with lesser motives, or a less spiritual view of the ministry, would have given up long ago. Paul looked upon his ministry as a stewardship: God gave it to him, and God also gave him strength to continue and not faint. The Gospel was too glorious for Paul to give up! It was too great a privilege for him to be a minister of the Gospel to risk falling by the wayside.

(Wiersbe's Expository Outlines.)



God's goal is to make us "more and more like him," traditionally translated "from glory to glory" (3:18). This process will last throughout all eternity, but he wants to begin it now!

(Willmington's Bible Handbook.)


(from Life Application Study Bible

3:18 The glory that the Spirit imparts to the believer is more excellent and lasts longer than the glory that Moses experienced.


4:2 Paul condemned those who twist God's Word. Preachers, teachers, and anyone else who talks about Jesus Christ must remember that they stand in God's presence—he hears every word.

(Life Application Study Bible.)



4.    The Right Stuff Leads Us To . . Shine With His Light. 2 Cor. 4:5-6

5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.

6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. NKJV


(from Ryrie Study Bible:  

4:4 the god of this world. I.e., Satan.

4:6 Just as physical light shined at creation, so spiritual light shines in the hearts of those who become new creations in Christ.

4:7 this treasure. I.e., the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. in earthen vessels. I.e., in our frail human bodies. the surpassing greatness of the power. Paul makes clear that this power belongs to God, not to any leader within the church (see 1 Cor 1:12).

(from Ryrie Study Bible: Expanded Edition © 1986, 1995 by the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.)


Willmington's Bible Handbook 2 Corinthians 4:1-64:1-6 Preaching in the light. Again Paul proclaimed his sincerity as an evangelist (4:1-2; see 1:12-14; 2:17), unlike other so-called evangelists and even Satan himself, who try to deceive (4:2-4). While Satan aims his light at the eyes, blinding his followers, God directs his light at the heart and feet, to indwell and guide (4:3-6).


(Willmington's Bible Handbook.)


Life Application Study Bible

4:5 The focus of Paul's preaching was Christ and not himself. When you witness, tell people about what Christ has done and not about your abilities and accomplishments. People must be introduced to Christ, not to you. And if you hear someone preaching about himself or his own ideas rather than about Christ, beware—he is a false teacher.


4:5 Paul willingly served the Corinthian church even though the people must have deeply disappointed him. Serving people requires a sacrifice of time and personal desires. Being Christ's follower means serving others, even when they do not measure up to our expectations.

(Life Application Study Bible.)



2 Cor 4:16-18

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.



Dake Annotated Reference Bible

Verse 16

a [cause we faint not] For the sake of winning souls to glorify God (2 Cor 4:15), we suffer all things without fainting. The outward man is slowly dying through trials and sufferings, but the inward man is being renewed daily.

[outward man] Found only here and refers to the body.

[inward man] Refers to the soul and spirit — the real person in the body.




Verse 18 

We do not strive for things we see, for they are not worthy of the pursuit of an immortal soul. The things not seen are the eternal and important things of life.

(Dake Annotated Reference Bible.)



VI. His Faith (4:16-18)

Paul is here weighing his sufferings on God's scales.

Verse 18 is a paradox to the unbeliever, but a precious truth to the Christian. We live by faith, not by sight. It is faith that enables the Christian to see things that cannot be seen (Heb 11:1-3); this faith comes from the Word of God (Rom 10:17).

We must be true to the Word of God. Paul had this kind of a ministry, and so should we.

(Wiersbe's Expository Outlines.)


Life Application Study Bible


4:16 It is easy to lose heart and quit. Don't let fatigue, pain, or criticism force you off the job. Renew your commitment to serving Christ. Don't forsake your eternal reward because of the intensity of today's pain. Your very weakness allows the resurrection power of Christ to strengthen you moment by moment.


4:17 Our troubles should not diminish our faith or disillusion us. Problems and human limitations have several benefits: (1) They remind us of Christ's suffering for us; (2) they keep us from pride; (3) they cause us to look beyond this brief life; (4) they give us opportunities to prove our faith to others; and (5) they give God the opportunity to demonstrate his power. See your troubles as opportunities!


4:18 Our ultimate hope when we are experiencing terrible illness, persecution, or pain is the realization that this life is not all there is—there is life after death! Knowing that we will live forever with God in a place without sin and suffering can help us live above the pain that we face in this life.

(Life Application Study Bible.)