15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
Presentation of the gospel always produces contrasting results. The preaching of Christ yields two opposite responses to the message.
15 For [because] we are to God the fragrance of Christ
The message of Christ to the world has an aroma. Paul’s team spread a fragrant odor coming from Christ. They were the means of dispensing the fragrance of Christ.
among those who are being saved
There are only two categories of people from God’s viewpoint: the saved and the lost. Among those saved, the gospel fragrance is progressively life giving. This is a description of what was happening with Paul’s team; wherever they went, people were being saved, and others were remaining lost.
and among those who are perishing.
Although non-Christians smell the beauty of the gospel, they continue progressively on the route to destruction and death. The message of the cross is death in their view. They will perish by their own making.
The effect of the gospel works either life or death.
The same message that brings eternal life to some brings eternal death to others. Persistent negative volition results in eternal death.