Questions From Readers
● What point was the apostle Paul making at 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16 when referring to himself and his associates as an “odor”?
The apostle Paul wrote: “To God we are a sweet odor of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the latter ones an odor issuing from death to death, to the former ones an odor issuing from life to life.”—2 Cor. 2:15, 16.
These words can be better understood when considering features of the Roman triumphal processions. When the returning victorious army would pass through the city of Rome in processions, incense burning on temple altars perfumed the air. The aroma of that incense meant different things to different people. For the triumphant soldiers, the odor was sweet, portending honors, promotion and riches. But to the unpardoned captives who were paraded through the streets, the burning incense was but an unpleasant reminder of the fact that they would be executed at the end of the procession. Similarly, the message proclaimed by the apostle Paul and his associates was like a delightful odor to those who accepted it but a stench to those who rejected it.