“MESSENGER OF SATAN””
The conclusion of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians illustrates how Paul was thankful in a way, that “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from being too elated” [v.7]. Who gave it to him? The point is, he sees this “messenger” as being part of the will of God.
We cannot be sure what this “thorn” was, some disability, many say it was probably poor eyesight. Turn on 2 or 3 pages and look at the last chapter of Galatians, Paul writes “See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand” [v.11], this indicates difficulty in writing which would most likely be caused by 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. It is adversity that brings out the best in disciples! All ‘strengths’ need to be tested to make sure they are really strong for the task they are designed for. Peter was a “satan” to Jesus (Mark 8 v.33), he tested Jesus’ resolve to do his Father’s will.
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 v.21) There is the blunt request (13 v.5) “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you” (13 v.9).
The fleshly atmosphere in Corinth seems to have been very much like that in world today, More than ever we need God’s word IN our thoughts every day as a defence against the fleshly attitudes all around us.
Paul says, 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 and more like our Lord and Master in the way we think and act. Note Paul’s conclusion, “Finally brothers (& sisters), rejoice … comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace” [v.11]