Ten Truths about Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh

“And lest I should 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 he said unto me, ‘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” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

There is good reason to believe that the Thorn in the Flesh is an important Biblical principle. In both testaments, men and women of God were put through trials that perfected their faith and gave birth to God’s work. Many think that the same principle is still at work in Christians today.

What does the Bible tell us about the Thorn in the Flesh, and what conclusions may we draw?

  1. Those with the greatest gifts may endure the greatest trials.
  2. The Thorn is designed to humble the recipient, helping him keep things in perspective.
  3. The Thorn likewise encourages others to glorify the message, not the messenger.
  4. The Thorn is given by God, but administered by satan (figure that one out!).
  5. The infirmity cannot be “rebuked” away.
  6. The Thorn has both a physical manifestation (e.g., weakness) and a spiritual counterpart (“messenger of satan“).
  7. The Thorn may make us appear weak and cause others to despise us, but the spiritually open will receive us.

    “Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus,” Galatians 4:13-14).

  8. God’s strength shines through when we are weak.

    “When I am weak, then am I strong,” 2 Corinthians 12:10).

  9. God gives “more grace” to those he gives more trials.

    “His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me,” 1 Corinthians 15:10).

  10. The Lord may never remove the Thorn, no matter how we beg.

Now what further insights can you draw?

© 2002 Paul A. Hughes

Send your questions to the Pastor
at pastor@cueroassembly.org

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