v1-8 - This chapter begins in the middle of a paragraph in which Paul is telling the Corinthians why he's not coming back in person, because their previous visit was too 'painful (v1).' It's not that Paul didn't love this church (v4), but it just seems that these people wanted to be part of the church but at the same time didn't want to give up their sinful lifestyles.
v9-11 - It always feels kind of good to have righteous indignation - that feeling of anger against something that is clearly wrong. While there's a proper time and place for anger (it's not always sinful to be angry), holding on to your anger plays right in to Satan's hand as he works to 'outwit (v11)' you. Rather, once a sin has been properly dealt with (either against the church or against you individually), you must let go of the anger and instead 'forgive and comfort (v7).' That's way harder than being angry, isn't it.
v12-13 - Have you ever made a decision that just didn't sit well with you? That discontentment you feel might be God nudging you in a different direction, like what He did here with Paul.
It seems clear that God called Paul to Troas. Paul says that "the Lord had opened the door" for him to go there.
But after a time, Paul "still had no peace." It's interesting how this short little passage shows that God uses both positive (opens a door) and negative (withholds peace) stimuli to help us align ourselves with His will.
v14-17 - Christians are 'captives in Christ's triumphal procession (v14).' A victorious general would often return to Rome by way of Corinth and triumphantly parade the spoils of his latest victory, including the best of the captives being brought back to serve the Roman empire. You and I are those who've been 'captured' in Christ's victory over sin and death, and now we're paraded before the Father so that we can be used in His Kingdom. Paul says we are 'a pleasing aroma of Christ (v15),' but that doesn't mean that all people will agree you smell good. Those whose hearts (and spiritual noses) have been renewed by the Holy Spirit will enjoy the fragrance you bring, but unfortunately many people will think you and your faith reek and will be revolted. This will hurt, but remember that they're rejecting Christ and not you.
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCE: It may seem odd to be referred to as a 'pleasing aroma,' but that phrase is used often to describe how God received the burnt offerings of the truly penitent. Because of Christ's perfect sacrifice, you have been made acceptable to God! Check out one of these references for an example: Genesis 8"20-21 - Exodus 29:18 - Numbers 15:3 - Ezekiel 20:41
Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:
EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: While he was in Troas, Paul was waiting for the arrival of one of his ministry helpers, but he never showed up. Who was this man? (See verse 13.)
Question taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: The God who will reign victorious over Satan (v11, 14)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Stand the test and be obedient in everything (v9)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: