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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 16

Verse 16. To the one. To those who perish.

We are the savour of death unto death. We are the occasion of deepening their condemnation, and of sinking them lower into ruin. The expression here used means, literally, "to the one class we bear a death- conveying odour leading to their death"—a savour, a smell which, under the circumstances, is destructive to life, and which leads to death. Mr. Locke renders this, "To the one my preaching is of ill-savour, unacceptable and offensive, by their rejecting whereof they draw death on themselves." Grateful as their labours were to God, and acceptable as would be their efforts, whatever might be the results, yet Paul could not be ignorant that the gospel would in fact be the means of greater condemnation to many, See Barnes "2 Co 2:15".

It was indeed by their own fault; yet wherever the gospel was preached, it would to many have this result. It is probable that the language here used is borrowed from similar expressions which were common among the Jews. Thus in Debarim Rabba, &1, fol. 248, it is said, "As the bee brings home honey to the owner, but stings others, so it is with the words of the law." "They (the words of the law) are a savour of life to Israel, but a savour of death to the people of this world." Thus in Taarieth, fol. 7, 1, "Whoever gives attention to the law on account of the law itself, to him it becomes an aromatic of life, (

HEBREW, ) but to him who does not attend to the law on account of the law itself, to him it becomes an aromatic of death, (

HEBREW) the idea of which is, that as medicines skilfully applied will heal, but if unskillfully applied will aggravate a disease, so it is with the words of the law. Again, "The word of the law which proceeds out of the mouth of God is an odour of life to the Israelites, but an odour of death to the Gentiles." See Rosenmuller and Bloomfield. The sense of the passage is plain, that the gospel, by the wilful rejection of it, becomes the means of the increased guilt and condemnation of many of those who hear it.

And to the other. To those who embrace it, and are saved.

The savour of life. An odour, or fragrance producing life, or tending to life. It is a living, or life-giving savour. It is in itself grateful and pleasant.

Unto life. Tending to life; or adapted to produce life. The word life here, as often elsewhere, is used to denote salvation. It is life,

(1.) in opposition to the death in sin in which all are by nature;

(2.) in opposition to death in the grave—as it leads to a glorious resurrection;

(3.) in opposition to eternal death—to the second dying—as it leads to life and peace and hey in heaven. See the words "life" and "death" explained See Barnes "Ro 6:23".

The gospel is "the savour of life unto life," because

(1.) it is its nature and tendency to produce life and salvation. It is adapted to that; and is designed to that end.

(2.) Because it actually results in the life and salvation of those who embrace it. It is the immediate and direct cause of their salvation; of their recovery from sin; of their glorious resurrection; of their eternal life in heaven.

And who is sufficient for these things? For the arduous and responsible work of the ministry; for a work whose influence must be felt either in the eternal salvation, or the eternal ruin of the soul. Who is worthy of so important a charge? Who can undertake it without trembling? Who can engage in it without feeling that he is in himself unfit for it, and that he needs constant Divine grace? This is an exclamation which any one may well make in view of the responsibilities of the work of the ministry. And we may remark,

(1.) if Paul felt this, assuredly others should feel it also. If, with all the Divine assistance which he had—all the proofs of the peculiar presence of God, and all the mighty miraculous powers conferred on him—Paul had such a sense of unfitness for this great work, then a consciousness of unfitness, and a deep sense of responsibility, may well rest on all others.

(2.) It was this sense of the responsibility of the ministry, which contributed much to Paul's success. It was a conviction that the results of his work must be seen in the joys of heaven, or the woes of hell, that led him to look to God for aid, and to devote himself so entirely to his great work. Men will not feel much concern unless they have a deep sense of the magnitude and responsibility of their work. Men who feel as they should about the ministry will look to God for aid, and will feel that he alone can sustain them in their arduous duties.

{a} "To the one" Joh 9:39; 1 Pe 2:7,8

{*} "savour" "odour" {b} "who is sufficient"

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