But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.~ Philippians 4:18
Paul tells the Philippians that their gift of support, which was delivered to him by Epaphroditus, was “an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.”
In 2 Corinthians Paul uses similar language when he says the following:
14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest THE SAVOR OF HIS KNOWLEDGE by us in every place.
15 For we are unto God A SWEET SAVOR OF CHRIST, in them that are saved, and in them that perish… ~ 2 Corinthians 2:14-15
In both cases (Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2) Paul appeals to the language of found in the Old Testament which described the atonement sacrifices foreshadowing the death of Christ.
No one reading Paul’s words in Philippians 4 and 2 Corinthians 2 would think the expression “sweet savor” means anything other than that which is pleasing to God. In fact, Paul uses the words “well pleasing” in his Philippians 4 description.
Yet when it comes to the sacrifice of Jesus, many have described it as anything but well pleasing to God, making claims such as “God poured out his wrath on Jesus” or “God treated Jesus like a sinner” or “God rejected Jesus in our place.”
The problem with this assessment is that it turns God against his dying Son, rather than God being pleased by the unselfish obedience of his Son who gave his life for us.
When Christ died on the cross, he wasn’t “role playing” in our place. He was paying a ransom, and he did this with his sinless and holy life which he offered to God as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. In this manner, Christ died for us, and PLEASED God, not appeased God, for Jesus was a SWEET SMELLING SAVOR to God FOR US.
Under the Law, the sacrifices that were “rejected” did not make atonement. Those that were accepted did, for they were offered as a sweet savor to God, bringing pleasure to him because they foreshadowed God’s Son in whom he is “well pleased!”
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God FOR CHRIST’S SAKE hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God FOR A SWEET-SMELLING SAVOR. ~ Ephesians 4:32- 5-2