Returning to the word used in 2Co 2:14, which is more general than εὐωδία sweet savor, denoting an odor of any kind, salutary or deadly, and therefore more appropriate here, where it is used in both senses. The two words are combined, Eph 5:2; Phi 4:18.
Of death (ἐκ θανάτου)
Rev., better, giving the force of the preposition, proceeding from, wafted from death. The figure is carried out with reference to the different effects of the Gospel, as preached by the apostles, upon different persons. The divine fragrance itself may have, to Christ's enemies, the effect of a deadly odor. The figure was common in rabbinical writings. Thus: “Whoever bestows labor on the law for the sake of the law itself, it becomes to him a savor of life; and whoever does not bestow labor on the law for the law's sake, it becomes a savor of death.” “Even as the bee brings sweetness to its own master, but stings others, so also are the words of the law; a saving odor to the Israelites, but a deadly odor to the Gentiles.” These are specimens of a great many.
Some find here an allusion to a revolting feature of the Roman triumph. Just as the procession was ascending the Capitoline Hill, some of the captive chiefs were taken into the adjoining prison and put to death. “Thus the sweet odors which to the victor - a Marius or a Julius Caesar - and to the spectators were a symbol of glory and success and happiness, were to the wretched victims - a Jugurtha or a Vercingetorix - an odor of death” (Farrar).