Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


2 Corinthians 3:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves - We do not arrogate to ourselves any power to enlighten the mind or change the heart, we are only instruments in the hand of God. Nor was it possible for us apostles to think, to invent, such a scheme of salvation as is the Gospel; and if we even had been equal to the invention, how could we have fulfilled such promises as this scheme of salvation abounds with? God alone could fulfill these promises, and he fulfils only those which he makes himself. All these promises have been amen-ratified and fulfilled to you who have believed on Christ Jesus according to our preaching; therefore, ye are God's workmanship and it is only by God's sufficiency that we have been able to do any thing. This I believe to be the apostle's meaning in this place, and that he speaks here merely of the Gospel scheme, and the inability of human wisdom to invent it; and the words λογισασθαι τι, which we translate to think any thing, signify, properly, to find any thing out by reasoning; and as the Gospel scheme of salvation is the subject in hand, to that subject the words are to be referred and limited. The words, however, contain also a general truth; we can neither think, act, nor be, without God. From him we have received all our powers, whether of body or of mind, and without him we can do nothing. But we may abuse both our power of thinking and acting; for the power to think, and the power to act, are widely different from the act of thinking, and the act of doing. God gives us the power or capacity to think and act, but he neither thinks nor acts for us. It is on this ground that we may abuse our powers, and think evil, and act wickedly; and it is on this ground that we are accountable for our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves - This is evidently designed to guard against the appearance of boasting, or of self-confidence. He had spoken of his confidence; of his triumph; of his success; of his undoubted evidence that God had sent him. He here says, that he did not mean to be understood as affirming that any of his success came from himself, or that he was able by his own strength to accomplish the great things which had been effected by his ministry. He well knew that he had no such self-sufficiency; and he would not insinuate, in the slightest manner, that he believed himself to be invested with any such power, compare note on John 15:5.

To think anything - ( λογίσασθαι τι logisasthai ti). The word used here means properly to reason, think, consider; and then to reckon, count to, or impute to anyone. It is the word which is commonly rendered impute; see it explained more fully in the note on Romans 4:5. Robinson (Lexicon ) renders it in this place, “to reason out, to think out, to find out by thinking.” Doddridge renders it, “to reckon upon anything as from ourselves.” Whitby renders it, “to reason; as if the apostle had said, We are unable by any reasoning of our own to bring people to conversion. Macknight gives a similar sense. Locke renders it, “Not as if I were sufficient of myself, to reckon upon anything as from myself:” and explains it to mean that Paul was not sufficient of himself by any strength of natural parts to attain the knowledge of the gospel truths which he preached. The word may be rendered here, to reckon, reason, think, etc.; but it should be confined to the immediate subject under consideration. It does not refer to thinking in general; or to the power of thought on any, and on all subjects - however true it may be in itself but to the preaching the gospel. And the expression may be regarded as referring to the following points, which are immediately under discussion:

(1) Paul did not feel that he was sufficient of himself to have reasoned or thought out the truths of the gospel. They were communicated by God.

(2) he had no power by reasoning to convince or convert sinners. That was all of God.

(3) he had no right to reckon on success by any strength of his own. All success was to be traced to God. It is, however, also true, that all our powers of thinking and reasoning are from God; and that we have no ability to think clearly, to reason calmly, closely, and correctly, unless he shall preside over our minds and give us clearness of thought. How easy is it for God to disarrange all our faculties, and produce insanity! How easy to suffer our minds to become unsettled, bewildered, and distracted with a multiplicity of thoughts! How easy to cause every thing to appear cloudy, and dark, and misty! How easy to affect our bodies with weakness, langor, disease, and through them to destroy all power of close and consecutive thought! No one who considers on how many things the power of close thinking depends, can doubt that all our sufficiency in this is from God; and that we owe to him every clear idea on the subjects of common life, and on scientific subjects, no less certainly than we do in the truths of religion, compare the case of Bezaleel and Aholiab in common arts, Exodus 31:1-6, and Job 32:8.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Even the appearance of self-praise and courting human applause, is painful to the humble and spiritual mind. Nothing is more delightful to faithful ministers, or more to their praise, than the success of their ministry, as shown in the spirits and lives of those among whom they labour. The law of Christ was written in their hearts, and the love of Christ shed abroad there. Nor was it written in tables of stone, as the law of God given to Moses, but on the fleshy (not fleshly, as fleshliness denotes sensuality) tables of the heart, Eze 36:26. Their hearts were humbled and softened to receive this impression, by the new-creating power of the Holy Spirit. He ascribes all the glory to God. And remember, as our whole dependence is upon the Lord, so the whole glory belongs to him alone. The letter killeth: the letter of the law is the ministration of death; and if we rest only in the letter of the gospel, we shall not be the better for so doing: but the Holy Spirit gives life spiritual, and life eternal. The Old Testament dispensation was the ministration of death, but the New Testament of life. The law made known sin, and the wrath and curse of God; it showed us a God above us, and a God against us; but the gospel makes known grace, and Emmanuel, God with us. Therein the righteousness of God by faith is revealed; and this shows us that the just shall live by his faith; this makes known the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ, for obtaining the forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The gospel so much exceeds the law in glory, that it eclipses the glory of the legal dispensation. But even the New Testament will be a killing letter, if shown as a mere system or form, and without dependence on God the Holy Spirit, to give it a quickening power.
Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 89.4

Will we grasp and appreciate the good, and refuse the evil? Will we walk humbly with God? ... We must not fail nor be discouraged; then the present work, now passing beyond our control, will be our paymaster.... We have only a little period in which to work. We are not to educate ourselves to worry. Keep the eye upward, fixed upon the mark of our high calling in Christ Jesus. We have a work to do; let us do it as in the sight of the whole universe of heaven. We are not to faint, to stumble on in unbelief. God desires us to look to Him as our sufficiency and strive to be complete in Him.31 TMK 89.4

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 319

Our books should be handled by consecrated workers whom the Holy Spirit can use as His instrumentalities. Christ is our sufficiency, and we are to present the truth in humble simplicity, letting it bear its own savor of life unto life. 6T 319.1

Humble, fervent prayer would do more in behalf of the circulation of our books than all the expensive embellishments in the world. If the workers will turn their attention to that which is true and living and real; if they will pray for, believe for, and trust in the Holy Spirit, His power will be poured upon them in strong, heavenly currents, and right and lasting impressions will be made upon the human heart. Then pray and work, and work and pray, and the Lord will work with you. 6T 319.2

Every canvasser has positive and constant need of the angelic ministration; for he has an important work to do, a work that he cannot do in his own strength. Those who are born again, who are willing to be guided by the Holy Spirit, doing in Christ's way that which they can do, those who will work as if they could see the heavenly universe watching them, will be accompanied and instructed by holy angels, who will go before them to the dwellings of the people, preparing the way for them. Such help is far above all the advantages which expensive embellishments are supposed to give. 6T 319.3

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Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 253.8

I am instructed to encourage decided efforts to secure helping hands to do missionary work, to give Bible instruction and to sell books containing present truth. Thus skillful work may be done in hunting for souls. Young men, your help is called for. Make a covenant with God by sacrifice. Take hold of His work. He is your sufficiency. “Be strong, yea, be strong.”—Pacific Union Recorder, October 23, 1902. RC 253.8

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