by Barbara Latta
During my Christian walk, I have heard different theories about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. We can get stuck (as in bogged down) in discussions and theories of what this irritation was in his life.
Some have said he had bad eyesight.
Others that he walked with a limp or had some serious
These speculations originated from an interpretation of
Galatians 4:12-15 where Paul is talking about his infirmities and stating the
faithfulness of the church at Galatia that they would have “plucked out your
own eyes and given them to me.”
Because of this verse, the theory began that Paul had bad
eyesight. But to look further at what he was speaking about takes us back to Acts
14:19-20. Paul and Barnabas had preached and performed miracles in the town of Lystra
which is in the province of Galatia. He was stoned and left for dead. In the
letter to the church of Galatia Paul outlines in chapter four, the care that
church gave to him. After being stoned and left for dead, a person’s eyes would
be swollen and possibly shut and more than likely if he could walk at all he
would walk with a limp for some period of time. But this was a temporary
infirmity. And the church took care of him while he healed.
Paul talks about this thorn in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, And lest I should be exalted above measure
by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a
messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (verse
7 NKVJ, emphasis mine).
As the verse clearly states, the thorn was a messenger of
Satan to buffet him. Paul was tormented by a demon from hell to try to stop
him from preaching the gospel of Christ. He was persecuted everywhere he went
with stoning, beating, imprisonment, revilement, mobs, riots and shipwrecks.
When he states he was given this thorn to keep him from being exalted, we can
conclude from the nature of God that the Lord does not give demons to us (John 10:10). The
thorn came from Satan who didn’t want Paul or his message exalted in front of
people. So, the devil did everything he could to bring Paul down and stop the
Persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at
Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all
the Lord delivered me (2 Timothy 3:11 NKJV).
We are redeemed from sin through faith in Christ when we
believe and accept Him (2 Corinthians 5:17.)
We are redeemed from sickness through the same faith in
Christ when we believe and stand on His Word (1 Peter 2:24).
But we are not redeemed from persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).
That’s why Paul says he asked the Lord three times to take away the tormenter and
God replied, “My grace is sufficient”,(2 Corinthians 2:9). His grace is what
keeps us standing in the face of persecution.
While these views may be contrary to some, this is the
interpretation I received when reading and studying these scriptures. And when
this revelation came to me, it made these passages clearer and answered
questions that seemed to be confusing. That’s why it is so important for us
to dig deeper when we have questions and not merely rely on religious
traditions that have been handed down for generations.
I hope this helps you in your study. I certainly don’t claim
to have all the answers about anything, but these scriptures helped me get “unstuck”
about Paul’s thorn in the flesh.
Please feel free to share your thoughts.