Today we find Paul commenting on the things he could boast about if he wanted to. The closing chapters illustrate that boastful attitudes were still a problem at Corinth. They also illustrate that Paul had come to realize he should be thankful, that “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated” (verse 7); it reminds us of how Jesus was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted” (Matthew 4:1)

We do not know what this thorn was. A disability? Some think it could have been poor eyesight (see for example Galatians 6:11). Whatever it was it stopped him from being too elated. “For the sake of Christ then I am content with weaknesses …” But why “a messenger of Satan”? It is a figure of speech to describe adversity. Satan, a Hebrew word is sometimes translated as “adversary” and relates to a particular person. Adversaries and adversity bring out the best in genuine disciples!

In completing his letter Paul expresses the fear that when he comes “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). He requests that they, “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves … that Jesus Christ is in you” (13:5). We need God’s word in our thoughts every day as a defence against the fleshly attitudes. We must prove that Christ is in us by becoming more like our Lord and Master in the way we think and act. Paul concludes by writing, “Finally brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace”.