That is a unique verse among the writings of the Apostle Paul and certainly deserves some prayerful consideration.  Let’s read 2 Corinthians 5:13, “For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.”  We have to take the language in the sense that Paul wrote it.  When Paul said they were ‘beside ourselves’, he was of course using a metaphor, or figure of speech.  We use similar language nearly every day.  If we are in trouble, we might say we are in ‘hot water’.  If we are hesitant to say something directly, others might say we are ‘beating around the bush.’  If someone is gullible, we might say he is a ‘real sucker’.  The list goes on.  So, Paul is telling the Corinthians that it may be true that he is ‘beside himself’ or exhibiting very high levels of emotion or zealousness, possibly appearing to be insane.

Paul had said earlier in 2 Corinthians 3:1, “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?”  False teachers in the area had obviously been attacking Paul’s character and his credentials.  In 2 Corinthians 5:12 Paul went on to write, “For we commend not ourselves again unto you…”  The false teachers accused Paul of trying to glorify himself, with his commendations, so he simply refused to commend himself again, or to speak of his authority from the Lord to teach and lead the church.  And so, he was accused of being insane.  His response was that if he was indeed insane, or beside himself, he did that as unto the Lord.  If his zealousness for the glory of the Lord caused him to be considered insane, so be it.  He acted that way for the Lord’s sake.  However, if he acted sober, that was for the benefit and blessings of the church.  The glory of the Lord and the benefit of the church was paramount in Paul’s heart and life.

Of course, Paul was also accused of being insane by King Agrippa and Governor Festus.  After witnessing to these two men concerning the Lord, we read in Acts 26:24-25, “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.”  Upon hearing Paul’s incredible accounts of the Lord and of Paul’s salvation, Festus just thought Paul was crazy.  Paul assured him that he was not mad, but was speaking words of truth and seriousness.

Of course, Paul was in good company by being accused of being insane.  We read of the Lord Jesus in Mark 3:21 which says, “And his friends having heard, went forth to lay hold on him, for they said that he was beside himself.”  Friends and even His family, at one point consider the Lord Jesus to be insane because of His words.

Paul certainly did not mind being thought of as insane by the world as he presented the Gospel and precious truths from the Lord.  He had written earlier in 1 Corinthians 4:10, “We are fools for Christ’s sake…”  Let the world think what they wanted about him, his loyalty and obedience was to the Lord and his great concern was for fellow believers.  Did you know that the Lord wants the same thing for you?  He doesn’t want us to strive to appear to be intelligent and educated in this sinful world’s eyes.  No, he wants us all to risk being regarded as fools for His sake.  1 Corinthians 3:18 instructs us, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”  May the Lord give us all strength to stand for the truth, even as Paul stood for the truth of His Word.  (178.3)