5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God,
Verse 5 is the answer to 2 Corinthians 2:16.
5 Not that we are sufficient [adequate] of ourselves
Change in the lives of the Corinthian church came from God, not the gospel team. Their ministry was not self-generated by their natural abilities (Ga 1:1). The team was not adequate for ministry apart from the Lord (2 Co 12:10).
The three uses of “sufficient” here all hark back to 2 Corinthians 2:16. Paul’s answer to his critics who claimed that he was full of pride was that he was not adequate in himself to do ministry; He depended upon or trusted God to work through him. No human being has the competence to do supernatural work.
to think of anything as being from ourselves,
Since God was the source of their qualifications, the gospel team trusted God to establish their credentials. They did not rest on their own abilities but on the power of God (1 Co 2:1-5).
but our sufficiency is from God,
The omnipotent God was the source or origin of their competence (1 Ti 1:12). He works even through frail human beings. When Paul became a Christian, God demolished his self-confidence (Php 3:5-6). He came to realize that he could only depend on the infinite grace of God and the empowering Spirit to do ministry (Ga 1:15). A minister has sufficiency when he draws on God.
Competency in ministry is God-given rather than human achievement.
We determine competency in our culture by getting the job done. Ministry competency, however, does not come from self but Christ. He has made us competent ministers. Genuine ministry recruits the endorsement of God.
We are adequate for ministry but not because it originates in ourselves; it is because God initiates it in us. Therefore, He deserves the credit. We have nothing to boast about other than what God does through us (1 Cor 15:9-11; 2 Co 10:13-18).
Ministry does not depend on self-confidence. People often applaud education, gifting, and charisma of Christian leaders. Rather, they should convey strong confidence in what God can do through them (Ac 4:29; 1 Co 9:16; 2 Co 4:7). This is not self-confidence (1 Co 15:10).