2 Corinthians 2:14-17 is a brief interlude in which Paul talks about what it means to be a "minister of the gospel". His thoughts are helpful for us as we consider our identities as ministers of the gospel. The New Living Translation's rendering of this passage is very helpful so I've included it below:
But thank God! He has made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?What victory do you think, Christ is celebrating in this "triumphal procession"? If Christ is the victor, what role do we play?
You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ's authority, knowing that God is watching us.
How does God use us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere? How do we sometimes get in the way of God using us to spread the knowledge of Christ?
Why do you think some people perceive the knowledge of Christ to be like a stench? Why do some people perceive it as a beautiful aroma? What makes the difference?
Paul asks who is adequate for the task of spreading the knowledge of Christ. What factors make someone adequate for this task? What factors might keep someone from being adequate for the task?
Do you feel that you are adequate for the task? Why or why not?
How do you feel knowing that some people you may talk to about God might perceive that conversation as the "smell of death"?
What are some examples of how people share Christ for personal benefit in our world?
Do you think there are some people who choose NOT to share Christ because they think it will be more beneficial to keep quiet? Why or why not?
To whom has Christ given the authority to talk about the Gospel? Does Christ's authority mean that everyone will accept what is being said? What does his authority mean?
Paul finishes by saying that God is watching us. Is this a good thing or bad thing? How should it change the way we live?