WHAT DOES 2 CORINTHIANS 7:5 MEAN?
by Shawn Brasseaux
The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 7:5: “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.” What does this mean? We will look at verses that describe this most distressing time of Paul’s life and ministry, and then we will better understand that Scripture.
We can estimate that the Apostle Paul wrote this in the early verses of Acts chapter 20, when he was passing through Macedonia (northern Greece). You must remember that Paul had just barely survived a very violent riot in Ephesus (see Acts 19:21-41). Acts 20:1 calls it an “uproar.” Paul was just as human as we are, and he had times of intimidation, discouragement, and depression. See Ephesians 6:18-20, for example: “ Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;  And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,  For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Or, see 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, the context of the verse you are asking about. The riot in Ephesus (Acts chapter 19) and the period that followed were the lowest point in Paul’s life and ministry up to that point. Note especially 2 Corinthians 1:8, how Paul and Timothy wrote, “We were pressed out of measure,” squeezed/pressured, “above strength,” “insomuch that we despaired even of life.”
Whenever Paul went into a new city or region, he always wondered what types of people and troubles he might encounter. Would the people receive him, or abuse him? Would they believe and be saved unto eternal life, or would they mock the preaching of the cross of Christ? Would he escape with his life, or would he be imprisoned and/or killed? Having just left the mob in Ephesus, the mob trying to injure or kill him, he entered Macedonia (Acts 20; cf. 2 Corinthians 7:5) all shaken up in mind and spirit. He had just survived some violent attacks (“without were fightings”) and he was deeply troubled (“within were fears”). Up to that point, he had already suffered some major difficulties and sufferings in the ministry (see 2 Corinthians 11:22-33). He had the ordeals/trials/sufferings of Acts 20-28 and beyond, still ahead of him, after writing the epistle of 2 Corinthians! What we can learn from this is simple, brethren. If God’s grace was sufficient for the Apostle Paul to endure all his troubles in ministry, we can endure all of ours for the Gospel’s sake!