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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 5 - Verse 13

Verse 13. For whether we be beside ourselves. This is probably designed to meet some of the charges which the false teachers in Corinth brought against him, and to furnish his friends there with a ready answer, as well as to show them the true principles on which he acted, and his real love for them. It is altogether probable that he was charged with being deranged; that many who boasted themselves of prudence, and soberness, and wisdom, regarded him as acting like a madman. It has not been uncommon, by any means, for the cold and the prudent, for formal professors and for hypocrites, to regard the warm-hearted and zealous friends of religion as maniacs. Festus thought Paul was deranged, when he said, "Paul, thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad," (Ac 26:24;) and the Saviour himself was regarded by his immediate relatives and friends as beside himself, Mr 3:21. And at all times there have been many, both in the church and out of it, who have regarded the friends of revivals, and of missions, and all those who have evinced any extraordinary zeal in religion, as deranged. The object of Paul here is to show, whatever might be the appearance or the estimate which they affixed to his conduct, what were the real principles which actuated him. These were zeal for God, love to the church, and the constraining influences of the love of Christ, 2 Co 5:14,15. The word here rendered "be beside ourselves" (exesthmen, from existhmi) means, properly, to put out of place; to be put out of place; and then to be put out of one's self, to astonish, to fill with wonder, Lu 24:22; Ac 8:9,11; and then to be out of one's mind, to be deranged. Here it means that they were charged with being deranged; or that others esteemed, or professed to esteem, Paul and his fellow-labourers deranged.

It is to God. It is in the cause of God, and from love to him. It is such a zeal for him; such an absorbing interest in his cause; such love prompting to so great self-denial, and teaching us to act so much unlike other men, as to lead them to think that we are deranged. The doctrine here is, that there may be such a zeal for the glory of God, such an active and ardent desire to promote his honour, as to lead others to charge us with derangement. It does not prove, however, that a man is deranged on the subject of religion because he is unlike others, or because he pursues a course of life that differs materially from that of other professors of religion, and from the man of the world. He may be the truly sane man after all; and all the madness that may exist may be where there is a profession of religion without zeal; a professed belief in the existence of God and in the realities of eternity, that produces no difference in the conduct between the professor and other men; or an utter unconcern about eternal realities when a man is walking on the brink of death and of hell. There are few men that become deranged by religion; there are millions who act as madmen who have no religion. And the highest instances of madness in the world are those who walk over an eternal hell without apprehension or alarm.

Or whether we be sober. Whether we are sane, or of sound mind. Comp. Mr 5:15. Tindal renders this whole passage, "For if we be too fervent, to God we are too fervent; if we keep measure, for our cause keep we measure." The sense seems to be, "If we are esteemed to be sane, and sober-minded, as we trust you will admit us to be, it is for your sake. Whatever may be the estimate in which we are held, we are influenced by love to God, and love to man. In such a cause, we cannot but evince zeal and self-denial which may expose us to the charge of mental derangement; but still we trust that by you we shall be regarded as influenced by a sound mind. We seek your welfare. We labour for you. And we trust that you will appreciate our motives, and regard us as truly sober-minded."

{*} "beside" "transported beyond" {d} "it is" 2 Co 11:1,16,17

{**} "sober" "sober-minded"

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