From Troas to Macedonia
2 Corinthians 2:12, 13 says,
12 Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13 I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave to them, I went on to Macedonia.
In Luke’s account of this journey in Acts 16:8-10, no mention is made of Titus. Instead, Paul says that he had a vision in the night (perhaps a dream), in which “a certain man of Macedonia” appealed to him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:9). This was probably not Titus himself, but a Macedonian who apparently had appealed to God to reveal the truth to him.
So Paul sailed to Philippi, a leading city of Macedonia.
Paul says nothing more about his journey, but merely compares the presence of the gospel to a “sweet aroma” being smelled everywhere he went. 2 Cor. 2:14-16 says,
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?
The metaphor of a “triumph” depicts Paul as a prisoner of Jesus Christ returning from a victorious military campaign, leading prisoners in a parade through the streets of the city. Those who are prisoners of Jesus Christ may be led to death, others to life. Paul understood that whether he lived or died, he was a bond-slave of Jesus Christ.
The two types of aroma, the stench of death vs. the aroma of life are attributed to the difference between “those who are perishing” (i.e., non-believers) and “those who are being saved.” Paul’s metaphor was well known in those days but somewhat obscure to us today. He concludes the section in 2 Cor. 2:17,
17 For we are not like many, peddling [kapeleuo] the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
In other words, Paul was not involved in corrupting the word of God. The Greek word kapeleuo is from kapelos, “a huckster.” Dr. Bullinger gives us a little history of this word:
Gr. kapeleuo. Only here. The word kapelos, which occ. once in the Sept., meant a huckster, tavern-keeper, and then the verb came to mean “adulterate”. See Isaiah 1:22, where the Sept. reads, “thy wine-sellers mix the wine with water.”
Hence, Paul was telling us that he was no huckster preaching things that he himself did not believe with sincerity. Neither was Paul adulterating the word by mixing it with untruth as men often mixed water with wine.
This simple statement serves as an introduction to the important teaching that Paul was about to give in the next chapter. The apostle intends for us to understand that his teaching on the Old and New Covenants in 2 Corinthians 3 does not originate from a mere huckster peddling the word for profit.