“And lest I be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought The Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And God spoke with me saying unto my spirit, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I made strong and able.” (2 Cor. 12:7-10)
Paul in his ministry had trials! Not only the ‘thorn’ in his flesh, but a myriad of trials and tribulations. Three times he pleaded with The Lord to take it away.
What exactly is ‘the thorn’? “A source of continual annoyance or trouble.” It is synonymous with the phrase “thorn in the side,” which is also of biblical origin, based on the description in Numbers 33:55.
“But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.”
But God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul then in His Spirit resolved “I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9
I will admit that I set about to see what exactly the “thorn” was. I will note that right quick, it was pointed out that the ‘thorn’ was sent by Satan!
This thorn in the flesh that Paul mentioned has been used and misused by Christians to justify submitting to nearly any problem that comes along. Satan has twisted this passage of Scripture to deceive many, many people into believing that God would not heal Paul, so how can they expect to be healed? Let us examine this closely and find out exactly what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was.
First of all, this “thorn” came because of the abundance of revelations Paul had received. Until a person has an abundance of revelations, similar to what Paul had, he is not going to have a “thorn.” That would disqualify just about all of those who have been hiding behind Paul’s thorn.
Then, verse 7 says it came lest Paul should be exalted above measure. Traditionally, that has been interpreted to say the thorn was to keep Paul humble. Therefore, God had to be the author of it, because only God would want Paul to be humble. But there is a godly way of being exalted. First Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” Those who submit (humble) themselves to God will be exalted by God. Paul was not speaking of exalting himself above measure through pride, but rather, the thorn came from Satan to keep Paul from being exalted by God in the eyes of the people. Many more people would have received what Paul preached if everything was always “rosy” for him. But there was this messenger of Satan who always buffeted Paul and scared away the faint-hearted from committing themselves to Jesus, whom Paul preached.
God magnified, or exalted, Joshua in the sight of his people (Josh. 3:7). He continued to do that with the people He used on into the new covenant (Acts 5:13). So, we see that the exalting spoken of is not a negative kind but a godly kind. That just further strengthens the fact that the thorn was not God’s doing.
In verse 7, right after the thorn in the flesh is mentioned, there is a phrase set off by commas which says, “The messenger of Satan to buffet me.” This is an explanation of what the thorn was. It was not a thing but rather a demonic messenger. The word used as “messenger” here is always translated as angel or messenger and refers to a created being. So, Paul’s thorn was literally a demon sent from Satan to buffet him. The word “buffet” means to strike repeatedly as waves would buffet the shore.
How did this demonic force continually strike Paul? Traditionally it has been taught that it was with sickness, and the thing that made many accept that is the use of the words “weakness” and “infirmity” in verses 9 and 10. Infirmity definitely does mean sickness and is used that way in 1 Timothy 5:23, but that is not the only meaning of the word. The number two definition is any lack or inadequacy. For instance, Romans 8:26 says, “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities.” In this case, the context makes it clear that it is not speaking of sicknesses but rather not knowing what to pray for. Our finite minds are an infirmity, or an inadequacy.
If we look at the context of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, we find that infirmity does not mean sickness in 2 Corinthians 12:9 and 10. In 2 Corinthians 11:30, Paul uses the exact terminology of “glorying in infirmities” that is used just a few verses later in speaking about this thorn. In the eleventh chapter he had just finished listing what those infirmities were. In verses 23-29, he lists such things as imprisonment, stripes, shipwrecks, and stonings; none of these speak of sickness. Verse 27 mentions weakness and painfulness, which some have tried to make mean sickness, but it is just as possible he could have been weary and suffered painfulness from such things as being stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). All these things listed in 2 Corinthians 11 refer to persecutions as infirmities. So, in context, Paul’s thorn was a demonic angel or messenger sent by Satan which continually stirred up persecution against him. This is also verified by three Old Testament references (Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13 and Judg. 2:3), where people are spoken of as being “thorns in your sides” and “thorns in your eyes.”
Lord, we have been asked to give You thanks in our all, by Your grace, this we attempt to do. Glory! Father for Your Word, Amen.
In seeking out the definition of ‘thorn’, recieve ALL glory for placing in our spirit the source and etiology of what was shared.
Father, we approach Your throne of grace in The name of Jesus, we give You thank You’s for being exalted in our weaknesses. The weapons of the enemy are defeated in Jesus’ name as we rest beneath Your Wings. No devouring hawk shall ever affect us beneath Your Wing. We give You all praise and glory! Be exalted in our lives we pray in Jesus’ mighty Name, Amen.