Today in Corinthians we read Paul’s comments on the things he could boast about if he wanted to. The final chapters illustrate that boastful attitudes were still a problem at Corinth; they also illustrate that Paul expressed his thankfulness, maybe reluctantly, that “a thorn was given me in a flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated” (verse 7).
We cannot be sure what this thorn was, perhaps some disability such as poor eyesight. In Galatians 6 Paul writes “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand” (verse 11), which indicates difficulty in writing which would most likely be the affect of poor eyesight.
This handicap, whatever it was, stopped him from being too elated and so he says, “for the sake of Christ then I am content with weaknesses …” But why is it called “a messenger of Satan”? It is a figure of speech to describe adversity. Satan is a Hebrew word, and many times in the Old Testament it is translated as “adversary” and a particular person is named. Adversity brings out the best in committed disciples, Paul being the supreme example!
In completing this letter he expresses the fear that when I come “I may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality and sensuality that they have practiced” (12:21). There is the blunt request, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you” (13:5).
To combat the atmosphere of Corinth we need God’s word to be alive in our thoughts every day. Paul challenges, don’t you realize “Christ is in you”? Those who are baptised must realize this – every day. We prove that Christ is in us by becoming more like our Lord and Master in the way we think and act. In conclusion Paul stresses five points, “Finally brothers (& sisters), rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace” (verse 11). Let us all do that.