2 Cor 2:14-17 chiastic structure:
1a) 2 Cor 2:14, Thanks be to God + through us diffuses His knowledge;
1b) 2 Cor 2:15a, We are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved;
1c) 2 Cor 2:15, And among those who are perishing;
central axis) 2 Cor 2:16a, We are the aroma;
2c) 2 Cor 2:16b, Of death leading to death;
2b) 2 Cor 2:16c, And to the other the aroma of life leading to life;
2a) 2 Cor 2:16d-17, Who is sufficient + we speak the word of God from God.
Isn’t this the most amazing thing? We smell like someone, whether we are trying or not trying. His knowledge, His truth, our witness and testimony, carries His fragrance with it, which is diffused out from us as we go about our daily lives. We are fragrance diffusers! So how do fragrance diffusers work? A scented candle releases its scent when it is lit. Those plug in air fresheners (we have all seen commercials for those things) have to be plugged in to work, because when heat is applied to the fragrance, it causes it to be diffused. Incense needs to be burned in order to release its scent. And on and on.
When heat and fire is applied, then the fragrance that is within, is released out, and we become fragrance diffusers. The fire can be from the burning of the Holy Spirit within:
“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Mat 3:11
So let us have oil in our lamps, and keep us burning, burning, burning, dear LORD! And also, fiery trials can serve as the heat source to diffuse the fragrance of Messiah within us:
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Pet 4:12-13
Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. – Mark Twain
You know, not everything is always about us! Sometimes the LORD allows fiery trials to come upon us, so that His fragrance will be diffused to someone who needs to smell it! May I learn to respond to trials with joy, knowing that in You I have victory and every needful thing, rather than with hand- wringing and grief!
Now there are two kinds of people in the world who notice our aroma: those who are being saved, and those who are perishing. These two kinds of people both smell the same aroma about us – the fragrance of Christ. But to one it is a pleasant, attractive smell, and to the other it is a repulsive, foul smell.
Isn’t it interesting that Paul chose to say, “those who are being saved,” and “those who are perishing.” The verb is in the state of continuing, uncompleted action. The ones who are saved, past tense, are like us — spiritual fragrance diffusers. They carry the aroma of Christ to the world. Then there are those out there in the valley of decision. God is calling to them, and they have not yet responded to His call. Some of them will end up accepting Him. Those are the ones who are in the process of being saved. And some of them will end up rejecting Him. Those are the ones who are in the process of perishing.
Are there people in your life who are attracted to you as a person and a friend, who seek out your company and confide in you? They love your aroma! Since you already smell like life to them, that is a good sign that they are already on a path which will lead to life! And likewise, are there people in your life, that no matter what you do, how sweet or kind you are, hate and reject you? They hate your aroma, which is really the fragrance of Christ! Since you already smell like death to them, that is a good sign they are already on a path which will lead to death. But don’t stop praying for them — prayer changes outcomes. I daresay when Paul was persecuting the Church and approving of the stoning of Christians, he was on the path leading to death. But then God knocked him off his donkey on the road to Damascus, and set him on a different path!