The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh


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Janil Storch. The perplexed student does not know what to do with what he is reading because nowhere else does one see the apostle so comfortable in disclosing his weakness and his limitations. Garland, 2 Corinthians, vol. As Garland points out, some Corinthian converts were still probably greatly influenced by their former religious background, especially about visionary experiences.

They were recent initiates into a religion of surpassing glory and power, the very things which people of their day cherished. How reasonable, then, to expect to share in that gory. How natural to regard Christ as the source of all blessing. How plausible to view his lordship as the fountain of the individual wealth and his exalted position as the source of personal honour and esteem. Stansbury, quoted by Garland, writes: The shortage of reasonable avenues of honor at the top of the political structure meant many well-to-do sought it elsewhere by somewhat similar methods.

The options included endeavors such as private entertainment, games and festivals, patronage of new cults and collegia, demonstration of rhetorical skills or philosophical acumen, sponsorship or receipt of an approved honorary statue with appropriate epigraph, and socially conspicuous displays of a private retinue of slaves and freedmen. Consequently, the perplexity of events surrounding this letter should require the reader to investigate a little deeper into the sociopolitical as well as the perceived worldview of the Christians who constituted the church in Corinth.

In the meantime, Paul sends Timothy to visit them on his behalf 1 Corinthians , Acts Thus, Paul decides to visit Corinth and remediate the problems, then go to Macedonia and then return for a second visit on his way to Jerusalem 2 Corinthians What can Paul possible produce to compare with such wonders? Well then! Nevertheless, Paul is emphatic, he is only doing this and appealing to such things for certification purposes. In claiming to have seen the glorious Christ face to face in heaven, having survived it, and have kept silence about it until now, Paul demonstrates his awareness of the dangers of self-exaltation these extraordinary visions could entice.

Angels and archons storm against the traveler in order to drive him out…. But he was standing in front of the angels when… they began to stone him… they strike his head… and wound him. So he or she would face opposition from lower spiritual powers.

Lessons to Learn from Paul’s Thorn | devos from the hill

Walvoord and R. This seems very clear and obvious to me. God is Jehovah Rapha after all. And Paul knew the Old Testament like the back of his hand so the references to a thorn in the flesh make a lot of sense. Also, the more we know about God the greater the revelation , the more that Satan will fight us to steal the Word from our lives John , Mark The greater the revelation, the more the opposition. That should come as no surprise. This is where people miss it. God is for us, not against us. Trials and tribulations come from this world and not God John , James ; As long as we continue to use our faith when we encounter this opposition from the enemy and never give up, we are turned into gold vessels that can be used in a greater measure for the glory of God.

God bless you!! I appreciate teachers like you. I have hear all sorts of theories on this. One claims that his thorn must be depression, and guess who said that, a man dealing with depression. Another that it was sickness, and by a man who was sick. It was a figure of speech.

The best scholarship verifies this. Also, when Paul said he wrote in large letters, he was ending the letter and emphasizing a point. Frank, this is a great article.

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It clears up a lot of questions I had about this topic. On another subject I want to thank you for being so humble and deflecting attention away from yourself all of these years. A week ago I visited a church you planted. I hardly heard the members mention your name except once, with a lot of appreciation and affection : , but all they talked about was the Lord.

You taught them well. People are always talking about the pastor or the planter. Your humility is really refreshing. I thought this would encourage you. Do you have a book for the above information. I am working on my Master in Divinity. I would love to use you as a resource. This is great information. They frown on us using websites. Wow — This is what taking Scripture and chewing on it is all about. I had an urgency from the Holy Spirit to respond to a severe rebuke from a legalistic elder in a church that we are no longer members of.

This verse came to me as a direct prompting from the Holy Spirit, never realizing the actual meaning of the verse. Obviously the Lord was delivering to him a message, he was the thorn or a tormenter. When I sent him this verse in my e-mail I wondered if he would realize that I was referring to him.


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Due to his pride, he believed that I was the one who needed to remain humble and never saw himself as the proverbial thorn. It makes much more sense to me that this thorn was a person, a false messenger of satan. This reminds me of 2 points that Jesus made to the disciples. This stuff is happening today within the body of Christ. Oh, by the way, a Christian facebook friend sent me an email warning me away from you, and your books. And so it continues…….

It is also a sin that has an immense grip by making us feel unworthy of calling ourselves Christians. Do we need to be reminded that God has made us holy in the weakness we are in, not the weakness we are able to get away from? Can we not boast that the feelings of guilt and shame will not have dominion over us because we have been bought? We are redeemed by Christ and not in our ability to become sinless, because we all do and will continue to sin. No wonder the world has such a struggle with salvation as we fail to offer them grace without cost, as Jesus paid it all. What we need to do is extend grace to others, and help them in their plight realizing that none of us can stand before God as worthy in anything we can do.

And the power of sin has no dominion over us, even as we continue to sin, and we all will. Instead of trying to make ourselves sin free, we need to extend grace to sinners, to show them that sin does not have to grip them and continue to be a barrier to Christ. In doing so, slowly our actions through Christ will transform us. If nothing else, I hope this is read with open hearts and minds. Thanks for your comment, Kevin. Can you provide any biblical support for your theory?

But rather, he gave him a medical advice which probably he learnt from Luke. Paul complained of no one else in his ministry life as he did about Alexander. He did of Alexander who was meant to be a believer more than he did; of the blind Jewish religious leaders and even the avowed sorcerers who opposed him. While he prayed the Lord to forgive others who mistreated him, for Alexander, Paul asked that he Alexander receive the reward of his evil did against him.

That was its main purpose. Single man who hang around other single men…get real. I live it every day. Sitting here thinking how amazing it is that so many years after Paul has passed on, this thorn or opposition that Paul talks about is still here for him; when people claim he had homosexual desires etc.

Makes me wonder what other types of stuff he was accused of.

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People today also say Jesus was gay because he was always around men. Never with scripture to back the idea. Very interesting. Thanks for this post. Thanks for this! I am a charismatic who believes in and has seen and ministered healing. Yet I myself have been severely chronically ill for 14 years.

On the topic of thorns… If a thorn is a individual who is slandering you then how does this relate to the crown of thorns? I have one of these thorns, actually more than one. But one in particular that has caused me more pain and suffering than the cancer I have battled for thirteen years. But I can see how God has used this thorn to drive me to Himself, and it may be the very thing that ultimately has caused me to be stripped of myself and believe God for so much.

I will add this to my list of scriptures to memorize, in this new light, I am certain it will give me comfort and strength. Thank you! I wrote about this before. Throughout the Bible, thorns are consistently used to depict adversaries. In his letters Paul is lamenting the challenge that false brothers presented him. A challenge for this season upon The Church, that we study to show ourselves approved to God — yet old themes, dogma, interpretation of scripture one can so easily parrot.

The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Paul's Thorn in the Flesh

To search out the matter through the lens of the Holy Spirit, may that be the cry of our hearts. No other way to put it! Interesting thesis. The interpretation is reasonable the way you laid it all out here. Logical exegesis. Nicely done. I had moved on from the eyesight interpretation to a spiritual opposition through a person some years ago, but never organized the thoughts like you did. It only makes sense that it would be spiritual opposition to his message to the Gentiles — that was what he lived for.

Since the spiritual and physical realms are from the same Creator, it is logical that there would be valid extrapolations between the two Jesus used parables. I believe God allows Satan to meet the work of His true apostle and the work of the church so that the works that are of the flesh will not last and can be exposed as tares and crumbled, so that the fruit of the Spirit will remain like gold in the fire or a house on the rock.

This is helpful. I hope you will elaborate on this thought in a future blog post. I have often struggled with this verse. Hi Frank, For some time I have thought that! After being a victim of those type of thorns in the flesh it is amazing how God by His Spirit reveals those truths to us. It was like one day the lights went on! The proverbial penny dropped. If I had not experienced it personally I may never have seen it. What concerned me when I realised this, was the times I had, thinking without malice, spoken against others ways and teachings and their credibility. Being a thorn! I had to ask for forgiveness and learn to bite my tongue and turn my eyes and thoughts upon Him to who gives Grace to all.

It actually creates a very interesting story. Paul vs. They hounded him his whole life and he stayed faithful. I would personally say that the scriptures you put together brother are true and that does happen to men of God in our day in the same way. It surely happened to Paul. So the idea of it being an accuser of the brethren could be a possibility, even people accusing Paul of scandalous things that he did not do. Thanks Frank for that wonderful insight. God bless you. We stil say that people are a thorn in the flesh or a pain in the rear end.

Good work, brother. Even though they have both been misquoted by many modern commentators, who often repeat each others mistaken ideas, early church fathers Tertullian and Chrysostom have the same interpretation as you do. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Probably the stronger implication is that the thorn in the flesh was a physical ailment perhaps affecting his eyes ; but as we have shown, a case can be made for the alternative explanations as well.

It is interesting to speculate, but since we cannot be absolutely sure what this thorn in the flesh might have been, should we perhaps shift our focus to what is really important about this passage of Scripture? What are the lessons God wanted Paul, and us, to learn from his thorn in the flesh, regardless of what it was? However, He graciously submitted to the will of His Father.

People whose faith is in God are strengthened in their character by enduring physical infirmities. Paul, perhaps as a result of his personal experience, wrote of this unique strength in Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Keep a positive attitude even when God does not heal you. Said another way, when I am physically weak, I can become spiritually strong. God promises that He will not allow anything to happen to us that we would not be able to handle and endure with His help. He did not say that everything that happens to a Christian is good, but rather that all things work together for good.

That means God can make bad events work out for good. God is able to rescue His people outright or to guide them through whatever comes up in life. He never abandons His children. When Paul was facing imminent death, he wrote to encourage Timothy. His words conveyed his enduring trust that God always works for our good.

The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh
The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh
The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh
The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh
The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh
The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh The Mystery of the Thorn: A Study of Pauls Thorn in the Flesh

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