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.
Paul’s concern was that the letter he sent by Titus would not cause an adverse reaction by the Corinthian church. Verses 14-16 give his response to the good news he received from Titus when he arrived in Macedonia.
Paul used an extended metaphor in this verse. He compared the distribution of the gospel with the spread of a fragrance in an area.
14 Now thanks be to God
Paul thanked God for His sovereign direction for his ministry. God was aware of every situation or circumstance of his life. God was in control through every occasion (1 Pe 5:7).
who always leads us in triumph in Christ,
The idea of leading in “triumph” harks back to the concept of the triumphal procession, which was a Roman general victory parade. The Roman army forced vanquished prisoners to march in chains in this parade. The procession displayed the spoils of war. Clouds of incense filled the air. All of this was to flaunt the power of the Roman army. The Roman general would lead a procession of troops and slaves through the Porta Triumphalis (gate of victory) to the temple of Jupiter, where he would make an offering to Jupiter. Crowds shouted praise to the victor.
The picture here is that Paul’s team members were soldiers in Christ’s victory celebration; they gladly saw themselves as His prizes, led by Him throughout the Roman empire, winning people to Christ. Christ was the leader of the procession. He triumphed over them. They were captives of God’s sovereign actions over them. The idea, then, is that God conquered Paul and his team and led them as soldiers in triumphal procession.
“In Christ” refers to our union with Christ. This is the sphere wherein Christians live their spiritual lives and serve the Lord.
and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
The idea here also comes from the Roman victory parade, where people burned incense along the route of the procession. The fragrance of this incense compared to the knowledge of Christ. His message diffuses throughout the world. People can see the savor of God’s triumphal victories. The words “always” and “in every place” show the breadth of gospel ministry.
Those who share the gospel are the fragrance of the gospel.
Christians not only scatter the fragrance of Christ’s knowledge in every place, but they themselves are that savor (Eph 5:2). No believer should take this enormous privilege lightly. This is a high privilege.