That word “triumph” represents what believers have in Christ. The word is only used twice in the New Testament, once in regards to living out our victory we have in Christ and once in regards to Christ’s victory over the demons in hell (2 Corinthians 2:14 and Colossians 2:15). While both of these passages are related to what Christ has done at the cross and in His resurrection, we will focus on the application to us as followers of Christ.
The Roman Triumphal Procession
This word has an important background to it. In the ancient Roman world a Roman Triumphal Procession was the highest honor paid to a victorious Roman general. Before any Roman general could be granted a Triumph, he must have achieved certain things. He must have been the actual commander-in-chief in the field. The campaign that he engaged in must have been completely finished. The region must have been completely conquered and the victorious troops brought home. Furthermore, according to Roman history, at least 5,000 of the enemies must have fallen in one engagement. In the Triumphal Procession, the victorious general marched through the streets of Rome all the way to the capitol. The sequence of the march and the order of the people in the parade was very specific. First came the politicians, then the trumpeters, followed by the spoils taken from the conquered land. Then there followed a white bull, which they would later offer as a sacrifice to their gods. Then there came the enemy captives, the princes, leaders, and generals all in chains followed by the punishers, who would beat them as they walked. Near the tail came the musicians and priests swinging their censors with the sweet-smelling incense burning. At the end came the general himself. He would stand tall in a fancy chariot of ebony and silver, drawn by four white stallions. He would be clothed in a purple robe thrown over a toga sown with golden stars. In his right hand he would carry a scepter crowned with a Roman eagle and over his head a slave held the crown of Jupiter. The generals sons and soldiers were behind him cheering, “Hurrah, Triumph!” and pointed toward their leader. “Triumph! Triumph! Triumph!” It was all about victory and supremacy and strength. All this massive procession moved through the streets of Rome as mobs of people cheered and shouted “Triumph.”
Christ’s Victory Parade
This is the back drop to this word in 2 Corinthians 2:14: Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. The Apostle Paul draws from this word our “triumphal procession” as believers in Christ’s victory parade. God is the sovereign victor. Christ is the General in triumphal procession who has won the victory over sin, death demons and hell . Believers are God’s children who walk behind our Commander proclaiming His supreme victory. In this case, believers share in the victory of Christ and continue to celebrate that victory the rest of our lives, even into eternity (Revelation 2:26). 1 Corinthians 15:57 declares: Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. We did nothing to earn that victory, but God gives us the right to share in the spoils (Romans 8:37). Christ has won the victory (1 Corinthians 15:54). We continue God’s parade as we move through the streets of planet earth sharing the Gospel shouting, “Triumph! Triumph! Triumph!”
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
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