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2 Corinthians 5:13

ESV For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
NIV If we are 'out of our mind,' as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
NASB For if we have lost our minds, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.
CSB For if we are out of our mind, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
NLT If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.
KJV For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.

What does 2 Corinthians 5:13 mean?

Bible scholars interpret this verse in several ways. Paul's bottom line meaning is clear: He is genuine in his ministry to those in Corinth. He is not serving himself; he is serving God and serving them.

The previous verse emphasized that Paul's opponents were focused on outward appearances. Now he writes that if he and his co-workers are "beside ourselves" or "out of our minds," it is for God. What does this mean? Some scholars suggest that Paul is referring to some kind of ecstatic experience during worship services when controlled by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps Paul's opponents were suggesting he looked too crazy when worshiping God. Or, perhaps, it was exactly the opposite and the false apostles were more exciting to watch "perform" during worship experiences. In either case, Paul is saying that whatever the appearance, what matters is that such moments should be "for God."

Another possibility is that Paul's detractors were literally challenging Paul's mental health. Why would someone who has suffered so much for preaching the gospel keep doing it? Why keep pushing into the very activity that results in conflict with the authorities and painful experiences over and over? In this case, Paul has already explained the reason he continues to courageously preach the gospel at the cost of his own suffering. He does it in order to please the Lord. For that goal, he will gladly use up his earthly life to reach as many as possible with the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:6–10).

Paul adds a rhetorical point: that "if" he is not crazy, but in his right mind, then what he does is for the good of the Corinthians. His point is that he is completely in control of his mind and using it to serve them. No matter how it looks to unbelievers and skeptics (1 Corinthians 2:14–15), Paul is not serving himself. He is serving God and others.
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