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14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him.

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14. But thanks be to God Here he again glories in the success of his ministry, and shows that he had been far from idle in the various places he had visited; but that he may do this in no invidious way, he sets out with a thanksgiving, which we shall find him afterwards repeating. Now he does not, in a spirit of ambition, extol his own actions, that his name may be held in renown, nor does he, in mere pretense, give thanks to God in the manner of the Pharisee, while lifted up, in the mean time, with pride and arrogance. (Luke 18:11.) Instead of this, he desires from his heart, that whatever is worthy of praise, be recognised as the work of God alone, that his power alone may be extolled. Farther, he recounts his own praises with a view to the advantage of the Corinthians, that, on hearing that he had served the Lord with so much fruit in other places, they may not allow his labor to be unproductive among themselves, and may learn to respect his ministry, which God everywhere rendered so glorious and fruitful. For what God so illustriously honors, it is criminal to despise, or lightly esteem. Nothing was more injurious to the Corinthians, than to have an unfavorable view of Paul’s Apostleship and doctrine: nothing, on the other hand, was more advantageous, than to hold both in esteem. Now he had begun to be held in contempt by many, and hence, it was not his duty to be silent. In addition to this, he sets this holy boasting in opposition to the revilings of the wicked.

Who causeth us to triumph If you render the word literally, it will be, Qui nos triumphatWho triumpheth over us. 338338     “Qui triomphe tousiours de nous;” — “Who always triumpheth over us.” Paul, however, means something different from what this form of expression denotes among the Latins. 339339     “Θριαμβεύειν with the accusative is used here like the hiphil of the Hebrew in the same way as μαθητεύειν (to make a disciple) (Matthew 13:52.) βασιλεύειν (to make a king) (1 Samuel 8:22) and others.” — Billroth on the Corinthians. — Bib. Cab. No. 23, p. 181 The meaning is — “maketh us to triumph.” — Ed. For captives are said to be triumphed over, when, by way of disgrace, they are bound with chains and dragged before the chariot of the conqueror. Paul’s meaning, on the other hand, is, that he was also a sharer in the triumph enjoyed by God, because it had been gained by his instrumentality, just as the lieutenants accompanied on horseback the chariot of the chief general, as sharers in the honor. 340340     On such occasions the legati (lieutenants) of the general, and military tribunes, commonly rode by his side. (See Cic. Pis. 25.) — Ed. As, accordingly, all the ministers of the gospel fight under God’s auspices, so they also procure for him the victory and the honor of the triumph; 341341     “A triumph among the Romans, to which the Apostle here alludes, was a public and solemn honor conferred by them on a victorious general, by allowing him a magnificent procession through the city. This was not granted by the senate unless the general had gained a very signal and decisive victory; conquered a province, etc. [...] The people at Corinth were sufficiently acquainted with the nature of a triumph: about two hundred years before this, Lucius Mummius, the Roman consul, had conquered all Achaia, destroyed Corinth, Thebes, and Chalcis; and, by order of the senate, had a grand triumph, and was surnamed Achaicus.” — Dr. A. Clarke. — Ed. but, at the same time, he honors each of them with a share of the triumph, according to the station assigned him in the army, and proportioned to the exertions made by him. Thus they enjoy, as it were, a triumph, but it is God’s rather than theirs. 342342     “C’est plustot au nom de Dieu, que en leur propre nom;” — “It is in God’s name, rather than in their own.”

He adds, in Christ, in whose person God himself triumphs, inasmuch as he has conferred upon him all the glory of empire. Should any one prefer to render it thus: “Who triumphs by means of us,” even in that way a sufficiently consistent meaning will be made out.

The odor of his knowledge. The triumph consisted in this, that God, through his instrumentality, wrought powerfully and gloriously, perfuming the world with the health-giving odor of his grace, while, by means of his doctrine, he brought some to the knowledge of Christ. He carries out, however, the metaphor of odor, by which he expresses both the delectable sweetness of the gospel, and its power and efficacy for inspiring life. In the mean time, Paul instructs them, that his preaching is so far from being savourless, that it quickens souls by its very odor. Let us, however, learn from this, that those alone make right proficiency in the gospel, who, by the sweet fragrance of Christ, are stirred up to desire him, so as to bid farewell to the allurements of the world.

He says in every place, intimating by these words, that he went to no place in which he did not gain some fruit, and that, wherever he went, there was to be seen some reward of his labor. The Corinthians were aware, in how many places he had previously sowed the seed of Christ’s gospel. He now says, that the last corresponded with the first. 343343     “La benediction de Dieu continue sur son ministere comme on l’y auoit apperceue au commencement;” — “The blessing of God continues upon his ministry, as they had seen it do at the beginning.”