What does 2 Corinthians 2:17 mean?
ESV: For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
NIV: Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
NASB: For we are not like the many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
CSB: For we do not market the word of God for profit like so many. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.
NLT: 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.
KJV: For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has described Christians as "the aroma of Christ." As God leads us through our lives, we carry Christ to everyone we contact, Christians and unbelievers alike. Whether we know it or not, and whether we intend to or not, we're influencing others in some way when it comes to their perception of Jesus. What a privilege this is! Who is qualified to represent Christ in this way?

Paul answers that question in this verse. The short answer is this: Only actual Christians are qualified to represent Christ. False teachers, and fake Christians, had moved in among the true believers in many places. Paul describes some of them as "peddlers of God's word," meaning those pretending to be spiritual merely so they could profit from teaching about God. Perhaps some in Corinth had accused Paul of being one of these false apostles.

Paul declares that he and his co-workers are not this, not peddlers of God's Word. Instead, they are honest men, sent out by God. They speak in Christ, and they speak in the sight of God. Their message is trustworthy, because it comes from God, who sent them.
Verse Context:
Second Corinthians 2:12–17 briefly continues Paul's story of deciding not to come to Corinth until learning whether they were ready. He hoped to learn of their response in Troas, but his co-worker Titus did not show up with the news. Feeling unrestful in his spirit, Paul left. He then transitions into powerfully describing Christians as the aroma of Christ on earth: evoking death to those perishing and life to those being saved. Paul insists that he and his co-workers are sent by God.
Chapter Summary:
Paul explains why he delayed coming to visit the Corinthians. In great anguish, he had written a painful letter to tell them they must correct a man among them. This person may have challenged Paul's authority as an apostle of Jesus. The Corinthians disciplined the man, and he repented. Paul told them to forgive him. He tells of Titus failing to show up in Troas with news about the Corinthians, then transitions into teaching that Christians are the aroma of Christ on earth to everyone they know.
Chapter Context:
Second Corinthians continues uninterrupted from the previous chapter. Paul is explaining why he waited to come to Corinth. He wanted to see if they would side with him, or with the man who challenged his authority. They disciplined the man. He repented. Paul commands restoration and forgiveness. He then tells of failing to find Titus in Troas with news about them before transitioning into teaching that Christians are the aroma of Christ on earth, smelling of death to the perishing and life to those being saved. This brings Paul back to the subject of his own authority in chapter 3.
Book Summary:
Second Corinthians returns to similar themes as those Paul mentioned in his first letter to this church. Paul is glad to hear that the church in Corinth has heeded his advice. At the same time, it is necessary for Paul to counter criticisms about his personality and legitimacy. Most of this text involves that subject. The fifth chapter, in contrast, contains comforting words which Christians have quoted often in times of hardship. Paul also details his expectations that the church in Corinth will make good on their promise to contribute to the needs of suffering believers in Jerusalem.
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