|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:9-15 The apostle quickens himself and others to acts of duty. Well-grounded hopes of heaven will not encourage sloth and sinful security. Let all consider the judgment to come, which is called, The terror of the Lord. Knowing what terrible vengeance the Lord would execute upon the workers of iniquity, the apostle and his brethren used every argument and persuasion, to lead men to believe in the Lord Jesus, and to act as his disciples. Their zeal and diligence were for the glory of God and the good of the church. Christ's love to us will have a like effect upon us, if duly considered and rightly judged. All were lost and undone, dead and ruined, slaves to sin, having no power to deliver themselves, and must have remained thus miserable for ever, if Christ had not died. We should not make ourselves, but Christ, the end of our living and actions. A Christian's life should be devoted to Christ. Alas, how many show the worthlessness of their professed faith and love, by living to themselves and to the world!
Verse 13. - For whether we be beside ourselves; rather, for whether we were mad. Evidently some person or some faction had said of St. Paul, "He is beside himself," just as Festus said afterwards, "Paul, thou art mad," and as the Jews said of Paul's Lord and Master (John 10:20). The fervour of the apostle, his absorption in his work, his visions and ecstasies, his "speaking with tongues more than they all," his indifference to externals, his bursts of emotion, might all have given colour to this charge, which he here ironically accepts. "Mad or self controlled -all was for your sakes." It is to God; rather for God. My "enthusiasm," "exaltation," or, if you will, my "madness," was but a phase of my work for him. We be sober. The word "sober" (sophron) is derived from two words which mean" to save the mind." It indicates wise self control, such as was represented also by the many-sided Latin word frugi. It is the exact antithesis to madness (Acts 26:25). What you call my "madness" belongs to the relation between my own soul and God; my practical sense and tact are for you. For your sakes; literally, for you.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For whether we be besides ourselves,.... As some took them to be, and as Festus thought the Apostle Paul was, because of the doctrines they preached, and the self-commendation they were obliged to enter into through the calumnies of their adversaries; in which they did not so much seek their own reputation, as the honour and glory of God, which was struck at through them:
it is to God; it is for his glory, and not our own, that we act this part, for which we are condemned as madmen.
Or whether we be sober; think and speak meanly of ourselves, and behave with all modesty and lowliness of mind: it is for your cause; for your instruction and imitation. The glory of God, and the good of his churches, were what concerned them in every part of life. Some refer this to the apostle's being, or not being, in an ecstasy or rapture. Others to his speaking, either of the more sublime doctrines of the Gospel, on account of which he was reckoned mad, though in the delivering of them he had nothing else but the glory of God in view; or of the lower and easier truths of it, which were more accommodated to meaner capacities; in doing which he sought their edification and advantage.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
13. be—rather as Greek, "have been." The contrast is between the single act implied by the past tense, "If we have ever been beside ourselves," and the habitual state implied by the present, "Or whether we be sober," that is, of sound mind. beside ourselves—The accusation brought by Festus against him (Ac 26:24). The holy enthusiasm with which he spake of what God effected by His apostolic ministry, seemed to many to be boasting madness.
sober—humbling myself before you, and not using my apostolic power and privileges.
to God … for your cause—The glorifying of his office was not for his own, but for God's glory. The abasing of himself was in adaptation to their infirmity, to gain them to Christ (1Co 9:22).
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