Paul’s Thorn Again


Paul’s thorn in the flesh continues to be raised as an argument against it always being God’s desire to heal.

I share the following video from David Servant and follow up with a repost of an article I wrote back in 2013, where I suggest that God’s response was not a “no” answer to Paul’s prayer for the thorn to be removed, but a revelation of its purpose, pointing Paul to the way he needed to deal with it – through obtaining and applying grace (which is given to the humble).

Finally, I include an audio version of F.F Bosworth’s chapter on the subject from his book Christ the Healer

(My article from 2013)

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 (angel) 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.

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A reading of F.F. Bosworth’s chapter on Paul’s thorn in the flesh from his book Christ the Healer.

5 thoughts on “Paul’s Thorn Again

  1. Pingback: Prayer and Healing | Out of Shadows

  2. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m finding the reading from Bosworth meaningful and peaceful.

  3. What was meant, seems to me, in the ”OT” (shared from green book) by thorns in eyes is enough to bring forward. So as far as that goes, that part is clear.

  4. A little bit of an oddity: one preacher wanted to emphasize “it” while another emphasized “he” or “him” for the same thing. I also noticed one went mostly with how many times things were translated what way (which I think we know is not dependable among translators nor readers), while the other focused in another direction, on context, for actual relevant stories pertaining to the less-common terminology. (I’ve touched on at least three different words, really approaching like five to eight… or more, depending on how you look at it.) Nevertheless, if the main goal is to eliminate that which one of the words is not (and precision on the rest isn’t so pressing), they decided the same thing: that the thorn [the one word] is not a bodily health matter of a diseased sort in the first place (or a refusal to heal the body of such either). [Although it could still mean the life (of say Paul) is threatened, whether the thorn is the direct threat at any time or not.]

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