*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
But thanks be to God Here he again glories in the success of his ministry, and shows that he had been far from idle in the various places he had visited; but that he may do this in no invidious way, he sets out with a thanksgiving, which we shall find him afterwards repeating. Now he does not, in a spirit of ambition, extol his own actions, that his name may be held in renown, nor does he, in mere pretense, give thanks to God in the manner of the Pharisee, while lifted up, in the mean time, with pride and arrogance. (Luke 18:11.) Instead of this, he desires from his heart, that whatever is worthy of praise, be recognised as the work of God alone, that his power alone may be extolled. Farther, he recounts his own praises with a view to the advantage of the Corinthians, that, on hearing that he had served the Lord with so much fruit in other places, they may not allow his labor to be unproductive among themselves, and may learn to respect his ministry, which God everywhere rendered so glorious and fruitful. For what God so illustriously honors, it is criminal to despise, or lightly esteem. Nothing was more injurious to the Corinthians, than to have an unfavorable view of Paul's Apostleship and doctrine: nothing, on the other hand, was more advantageous, than to hold both in esteem. Now he had begun to be held in contempt by many, and hence, it was not his duty to be silent. In addition to this, he sets this holy boasting in opposition to the revilings of the wicked. Who causeth us to triumph If you render the word literally, it will be, Qui nos triumphat -- Who triumpheth over us.  Paul, however, means something different from what this form of expression denotes among the Latins.  For captives are said to be triumphed over, when, by way of disgrace, they are bound with chains and dragged before the chariot of the conqueror. Paul's meaning, on the other hand, is, that he was also a sharer in the triumph enjoyed by God, because it had been gained by his instrumentality, just as the lieutenants accompanied on horseback the chariot of the chief general, as sharers in the honor.  As, accordingly, all the ministers of the gospel fight under God's auspices, so they also procure for him the victory and the honor of the triumph;  but, at the same time, he honors each of them with a share of the triumph, according to the station assigned him in the army, and proportioned to the exertions made by him. Thus they enjoy, as it were, a triumph, but it is God's rather than theirs.  He adds, in Christ, in whose person God himself triumphs, inasmuch as he has conferred upon him all the glory of empire. Should any one prefer to render it thus: "Who triumphs by means of us," even in that way a sufficiently consistent meaning will be made out. The odor of his knowledge. The triumph consisted in this, that God, through his instrumentality, wrought powerfully and gloriously, perfuming the world with the health-giving odor of his grace, while, by means of his doctrine, he brought some to the knowledge of Christ. He carries out, however, the metaphor of odor, by which he expresses both the delectable sweetness of the gospel, and its power and efficacy for inspiring life. In the mean time, Paul instructs them, that his preaching is so far from being savourless, that it quickens souls by its very odor. Let us, however, learn from this, that those alone make right proficiency in the gospel, who, by the sweet fragrance of Christ, are stirred up to desire him, so as to bid farewell to the allurements of the world. He says in every place, intimating by these words, that he went to no place in which he did not gain some fruit, and that, wherever he went, there was to be seen some reward of his labor. The Corinthians were aware, in how many places he had previously sowed the seed of Christ's gospel. He now says, that the last corresponded with the first. 
1 - "Qui triomphe tousiours de nous;" -- "Who always triumpheth over us."
2 - "Thriambeuein with the accusative is used here like the hiphil of the Hebrew in the same way as matheteuein (to make a disciple) (Matthew 13:52.) basileuein (to make a king) (1 Samuel 8:22) and others." -- Billroth on the Corinthians. -- Bib. Cab. No. 23, p. 181 The meaning is -- "maketh us to triumph." -- Ed.
3 - On such occasions the legati (lieutenants) of the general, and military tribunes, commonly rode by his side. (See Cic. Pis. 25.) -- Ed.
4 - "A triumph among the Romans, to which the Apostle here alludes, was a public and solemn honor conferred by them on a victorious general, by allowing him a magnificent procession through the city. This was not granted by the senate unless the general had gained a very signal and decisive victory; conquered a province, etc. [...] The people at Corinth were sufficiently acquainted with the nature of a triumph: about two hundred years before this, Lucius Mummius, the Roman consul, had conquered all Achaia, destroyed Corinth, Thebes, and Chalcis; and, by order of the senate, had a grand triumph, and was surnamed Achaicus." -- Dr. A. Clarke. -- Ed.
5 - "C'est plustot au nom de Dieu, que en leur propre nom;" -- "It is in God's name, rather than in their own."
6 - "La benediction de Dieu continue sur son ministere comme on l'y auoit apperceue au commencement;" -- "The blessing of God continues upon his ministry, as they had seen it do at the beginning."
Now thanks be unto God - There seem to have been several sources of Paul's joy on this occasion. The principal was, his constant and uniform success in endeavoring to advance the interests of the kingdom of the Redeemer. But in particular he rejoiced;
(1) Because Titus had come to him there, and had removed his distress; compare 2-Corinthians 2:13.
(2) because he learned from him that his efforts in regard to the church at Corinth had been successful, and that they had hearkened to his counsels in his first letter; and,
(3) Because he was favored with signal success in Macedonia. His being compelled, therefore, to remove from Troas and to go to Macedonia had been to him ultimately the cause of great joy and consolation. These instances of success Paul regarded as occasions of gratitude to God.
Which always causeth us - Whatever may be our efforts, and wherever we are. Whether it is in endeavoring to remove the errors and evils existing in a particular church, or whether it be in preaching the gospel in places where it has been unknown, still success crowns our efforts, and we have the constant evidence of divine approbation. This was Paul's consolation in the midst of his many trials; and it proves that, whatever may be the external circumstances of a minister, whether poverty, want, persecution, or distress, he will have abundant occasion to give thanks to God if his efforts as a minister are crowned with success.
To triumph in Christ. - To triumph through the aid of Christ, or in promoting the cause of Christ. Paul had no joy which was not connected with Christ, and he had no success which he did not trace to him. The word which is rendered here as "triumph" (θριαμβευοντι thriambeuonti from θριαμβέυω thriambeuō) occurs in no other place in the New Testament, except in Colossians 2:15. It is rendered there as "triumphing over them in it," that is, triumphing over the principalities and powers which he had spoiled, or plundered; and it there means that Christ led them in triumph after the manner of a conqueror. The word is used here in a causative sense - the sense of the Hebrew Hiphil conjugation. It properly refers to a triumph; or a triumphal procession. Originally the word θριαμβος thriambos meant a hymn which was sung in honor of Bacchus; then the tumultuous and noisy procession which constituted the worship of the god of wine; and then any procession of a similar kind. - Passow. It was particularly applied among both the Greeks and the Romans to a public and solemn honor conferred on a victorious general on a return from a successful war in which he was allowed a magnificent entrance into the capital.
In these triumphs, the victorious commander was usually preceded or attended by the spoils of war; by the most valuable and magnificent articles which he had captured; and by the princes, nobles, generals, or people whom he had subdued. The victor was drawn in a magnificent chariot, usually by two white horses. Other animals were sometimes used. "When Pompey triumphed over Africa, his chariot was drawn by elephants; that of Mark Antony was drawn by lions; that of Heliogabalus pulled by tigers; and that of Aurelius drawn by deer" - Clark. The people of Corinth were not unacquainted with the nature of a triumph. About 147 years before Christ, Lucius Mummius, the Roman consul, had conquered all Achaia, and had destroyed Corinth, Thebes, and Colchis, and by order of the Roman Senate was favored with a triumph, and was surnamed Achaicus. Tyndale renders this place: "Thanks be unto God which always giveth us the victory in Christ." Paul refers here to a victory which he had, and a triumph with which he was favored by the Redeemer. It was a victory over the enemies of the gospel; it was success in advancing the interests of the kingdom of Christ; and he rejoiced in that victory, and in that success, with more solid and substantial joy than a Roman victor ever felt on returning from his conquests over nations, even when attended with the richest spoils of victory, and by humbled princes and kings in chains, and when the assembled thousands shouted Io triumphe!
And maketh manifest - Makes known; spreads abroad - as a pleasant fragrance is diffused through the air.
The savor - (ὀσμὴν osmēn). The smell; the fragrance. The word in the New Testament is used to denote a pleasant or fragrant odor, as of incense, or aromatics; John 12:3 see Ephesians 5:2; Philippians 4:18. There is an allusion here doubtless to the fact that in the triumphal processions fragrant odors were diffused around; flowers, diffusing a grateful smell, were scattered in the way; and on the altars of the gods incense was burned during the procession, and sacrifices offered, and the whole city was filled with the smoke of sacrifices, and with perfumes. So Paul speaks of knowledge - the knowledge of Christ. In his triumphings, the knowledge of the Redeemer was diffused abroad, like the odors which were diffused in the triumphal march of the conqueror. And that odor or savor was acceptable to God - as the fragrance of aromatics and of incense was pleasant in the triumphal procession of the returning victor. The phrase "makes manifest the savor of his knowledge," therefore, means, that the knowledge of Christ was diffused everywhere by Paul, as the grateful smell of aromatics was diffused all around the triumphing warrior and victor. The effect of Paul's conquests everywhere was to diffuse the knowledge of the Saviour - and this was acceptable and pleasant to God - though there might be many who would not avail themselves of it, and would perish; see 2-Corinthians 2:15.
Now, thanks be unto God - His coming dispelled all my fears, and was the cause of the highest satisfaction to my mind; and filled my heart with gratitude to God, who is the Author of all good, and who always causes us to triumph in Christ; not only gives us the victory, but such a victory as involves the total ruin of our enemies; and gives us cause of triumphing in him, through whom we have obtained this victory.
A triumph, among the Romans, to which the apostle here alludes, was a public and solemn honor conferred by them on a victorious general, by allowing him a magnificent procession through the city.
This was not granted by the senate unless the general had gained a very signal and decisive victory; conquered a province, etc. On such occasions the general was usually clad in a rich purple robe, interwoven with figures of gold, setting forth the grandeur of his achievements; his buskins were beset with pearls, and he wore a crown, which at first was of laurel, but was afterwards of pure gold. In one hand he had a branch of laurel, the emblem of victory; and in the other, his truncheon. He was carried in a magnificent chariot, adorned with ivory and plates of gold, and usually drawn by two white horses. (Other animals were also used: when Pompey triumphed over Africa, his chariot was drawn by elephants; that of Mark Antony, by lions; that of Heliogabalus, by tigers; and that of Aurelius, by deer.) His children either sat at his feet in the chariot, or rode on the chariot horses. To keep him humble amidst these great honors a slave stood at his back, casting out incessant railings, and reproaches; and carefully enumerating all his vices, etc. Musicians led up the procession, and played triumphal pieces in praise of the general; and these were followed by young men, who led the victims which were to be sacrificed on the occasion, with their horns gilded, and their heads and necks adorned with ribbons and garlands. Next followed carts loaded with the spoils taken from the enemy, with their horses, chariots, etc. These were followed by the kings, princes, or generals taken in the war, loaded with chains. Immediately after these came the triumphal chariot, before which, as it passed, the people strewed flowers, and shouted Io, triumphe!
The triumphal chariot was followed by the senate; and the procession was closed by the priests and their attendants, with the different sacrificial utensils, and a white ox, which was to be the chief victim. They then passed through the triumphal arch, along the via sacra to the capitol, where the victims were slain.
During this time all the temples were opened, and every altar smoked with offerings and incense.
The people at Corinth were sufficiently acquainted with the nature of a triumph: about two hundred years before this, Lucius Mummius, the Roman consul, had conquered all Achaia, destroyed Corinth, Thebes, and Chalcis; and, by order of the senate, had a grand triumph, and was surnamed Achaicus. St. Paul had now a triumph (but of a widely different kind) over the same people; his triumph was in Christ, and to Christ he gives all the glory; his sacrifice was that of thanksgiving to his Lord; and the incense offered on the occasion caused the savour of the knowledge of Christ to be manifested in every place. As the smoke of the victims and incense offered on such an occasion would fill the whole city with their perfume, so the odour of the name and doctrine of Christ filled the whole of Corinth and the neighboring regions; and the apostles appeared as triumphing in and through Christ, over devils, idols, superstition, ignorance, and vice, wherever they came.
Now thanks [be] unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the (k) savour of his knowledge by us in every place.
(k) He alludes to the anointing of the priests, and the incense of the sacrifices.
Now thanks be unto God,.... The apostle having mentioned the door that was opened for him at Troas, to preach the Gospel with success, calls to mind the great and manifold appearances of God for him and his fellow ministers, in blessing their labours to the conversion of many souls; which causes him to break forth into thanksgiving to God, on this account: what he takes notice of, and is thankful to God for is, that he
always causeth us to triumph in Christ; not only had done so, but continued to do so: some versions ascribe this act of triumph to God, as his act, reading the passage thus, "now thanks be unto God, who triumphs over us", or "by us in Christ"; who has conquered us by his grace, and made use of us as instruments for the conversion of sinners; and so first triumphed over us, having subdued us to himself, and then over others by us, in whose hearts the arrows of his word have been sharp and powerful: so the word is used for the person's own act of triumph spoken of, 2-Corinthians 2:15, but here it signifies, as words do in the Hebrew conjugation "Hiphil", which most commonly denotes an effect upon another, or which is caused and produced in another, and is rightly rendered, "which causeth us to triumph"; and refers not to the triumph of faith, common with the apostles to other believers; though this is in Christ, in his righteousness, death, resurrection, ascension, session at God's right hand, and intercession; and is what God causes, and to whom thanks is to be given for it: but this is a triumph peculiar to ministers of the Gospel, who are made to triumph over men and devils, over the world, the reproaches, persecutions, smiles, and flatteries of it; over wicked men, by silencing them, stopping the mouths of gainsayers, refuting false teachers, and preserving the Gospel pure, in spite of all opposition; and by being made useful to the turning of many souls from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God: and this is
in Christ: it is owing to the victory he has got; it is by his strength, it is in his name, for his sake, and because of his glory herein concerned: and
always; wherever the ministers of Christ are called to labour, and wherever the Gospel is purely and powerfully preached by them, some good is done; and they are made to triumph over hell and earth, over sin, Satan, and the world; and for all this, thanks is due to God; for he it is that causes them to triumph, or they never could; as will easily appear, if we consider what poor weak instruments they themselves are; what opposition is made against them; what wonderful things are done by them; by what means they triumph, by the preaching of the cross, and that in the midst of the greatest pressures and afflictions. Thanks are also given to God, that he
maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place; by "his knowledge" is meant, either the knowledge of God, who causes the ministers of the Gospel to triumph; or the knowledge of Christ, in whom they triumph; or rather of both, of the knowledge of God in Christ; and designs the Gospel, which is the means thereof: and which is said to have a "savour" in it, and denotes the acceptableness of it to sensible souls; and the good name, fame, and credit, which Christ has by the faithful ministration of it; and is an allusion to Song 1:3. Now this, God is said to make manifest; it was hid before, hid in himself, and to the sons of men; it was like a box of ointment shut, but now opened by the preaching of the word, which diffuses a fragrant smell; and therefore he is said to make it manifest "by us": the ministers of the Gospel, who openly, boldly, and faithfully preach it; and "by manifestation of the truth"; spread the savour of it, and that "in every place", where they come; their commission being at large, to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.
Now--Greek, "But." Though we left Troas disappointed in not meeting Titus there, and in having to leave so soon so wide a door, "thanks be unto God," we were triumphantly blessed in both the good news of you from Titus, and in the victories of the Gospel everywhere in our progress. The cause of triumph cannot be restricted (as ALFORD explains) to the former; for "always," and "in every place," show that the latter also is intended.
causeth us to triumph--The Greek, is rather, as in Colossians 2:15, "triumphs over us": "leadeth us in triumph." Paul regarded himself as a signal trophy of God's victorious power in Christ. His Almighty Conqueror was leading him about, through all the cities of the Greek and Roman world, as an illustrious example of His power at once to subdue and to save. The foe of Christ was now the servant of Christ. As to be led in triumph by man is the most miserable, so to be led in triumph by God is the most glorious, lot that can befall any [TRENCH]. Our only true triumphs are God's triumphs over us. His defeats of us are our only true victories [ALFORD]. The image is taken from the triumphal procession of a victorious general. The additional idea is perhaps included, which distinguishes God's triumph from that of a human general, that the captive is brought into willing obedience (2-Corinthians 10:5) to Christ, and so joins in the triumph: God "leads him in triumph" as one not merely triumphed over, but also as one triumphing over God's foes with God (which last will apply to the apostle's triumphant missionary progress under the leading of God). So BENGEL: "Who shows us in triumph, not [merely] as conquered, but as the ministers of His victory. Not only the victory, but the open 'showing' of the victory is marked: for there follows, Who maketh manifest."
savour--retaining the image of a triumph. As the approach of the triumphal procession was made known by the odor of incense scattered far and wide by the incense-bearers in the train, so God "makes manifest by us" (His now at once triumphed over and triumphing captives, compare Luke 5:10, "Catch," literally, "Take captive so as to preserve alive") the sweet savor of the knowledge of Christ, the triumphant Conqueror (Colossians 2:15), everywhere. As the triumph strikes the eyes, so the savor the nostrils; thus every sense feels the power of Christ's Gospel. This manifestation (a word often recurring in his Epistles to the Corinthians, compare 1-Corinthians 4:5) refutes the Corinthian suspicions of his dishonestly, by reserve, hiding anything from them (2-Corinthians 2:17; 2-Corinthians 4:2).
To triumph, implies not only victory, but an open manifestation of it. And as in triumphal processions, especially in the east, incense and perfumes were burned near the conqueror, the apostle beautifully alludes to this circumstance in the following verse: as likewise to the different effects which strong perfumes have upon different persons; some of whom they revive, while they throw others into the most violent disorders.
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