Thorny Thoughts

A few thoughts about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”.

Despite common assumptions, there is no indication that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a health issue – the scriptures describe it as a messenger from Satan sent to buffet Paul.

Paul had the understanding that God COULD remove it and would possibly be willing to remove it and therefore was able to ask for it to be removed. Then Paul was open enough to God’s Spirit to seek and hear God’s reason for the non-removal. He didn’t merely assume God wasn’t in the thorn-removal business.

2 Cor 12 spells out the nature of this “thorn in the flesh” and God’s revealed reason for not removing it:

“…because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations [given to Paul], a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Paul’s thorn wasn’t removed because it prevented him from becoming conceited (proud) due to the revelation he’d been given.

God told Paul that His grace was sufficient, but sufficient for what? Sufficient for Paul to endure, or sufficient for Paul to personally resist that messenger from Satan?

An interesting parallel dealing with similar issues of pride, humility and Satanic harassment can be found in James 4:6-7

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

I find a comparison between the two scripture passages suggests a viable answer to my question above about sufficiency.


5 thoughts on “Thorny Thoughts

  1. He reminds me of Peter {nothing against Peter} when he says
    “Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so…”
    [ while he mentions power resting on him ].

    Then it’s a little toned down when he gets to “For the sake of Christ, then,
    [ as was said, to overcome conceit ]

    I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.”

  2. Paul did say he wanted to spare people problems by recommending they not marry. However, he was also clear that he was not in a relationship with a woman; yet he had this “thorn in the flesh” (so it sounds like he was a guy with problems one way or the other). And let’s not forget that he had (to put it mildly) tormented Jesus’ people.

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