Paul used the style of Hebrew superlatives to emphasize the twofold effect of gospel preaching. To some, the message brings eternal life and ultimate glorification. To others, it is a stumbling stone of offense that brings eternal death. No one in his own strength is adequate or competent to serve God in the ways and with the power that Paul has been describing.
Commentary from the MacArthur study Bible, notes for 2 Corinthians 2:16.