Home
Search Bible
Click for Help   Click for QuickNav   Click for Advanced Search Options
Search KJV
KJVNKJVNLTNIVESVNASB
RSVASVYLTDBYWEBHNV
RVR60VULWLCLXXmGNTTR

Search a pre-defined list


OR Select a range of biblical books

From:

To:


OR Custom Selection:

Use semicolons to separate groups:
'Gen;Jdg;Psa-Mal' or 'Rom 3-12;Mat 1:15;Mat 5:12-22'

Your Bible Version is the KJV
KJV - King James Version NKJV - New King James Version NLT - New Living Translation NIV - New International Version ESV - English Standard Version NASB - New American Standard Bible RSV - Revised Standard Version ASV - American Standard Version YLT - Young's Literal Translation DBY - Darby Translation WEB - Webster's Bible HNV - Hebrew Names Version
RVR60 - Reina-Valera 1960VUL - Latin VulgateWLC - Westminster Leningrad CodexLXX - Septuagint
Go to Top There is no Go To Top button on mobile devices and tablets
Link to This PageCite This Page

Cite this page

MLA format

Note: MLA no longer requires the URL as part of their citation standard. Individual instructors or editors may still require the use of URLs.

APA format
Chicago format
Close
Share this pageFollow the BLB

Share this page using one of these tools:

facebooktwitter

deliciousstumble uponredditdigg


Or email this page to a friend:

Follow the Blue Letter Bible on:

facebooktwitter

pinterestgoogle+


Or subscribe to our Newsletter:

Printable Page
 
 
Choose a new font size and typeface

Customize your font sizeIncrease your font sizeDecrease your font sizeReturn to default font size

Customize your text type
Arial
Trebuchet MS
Georgia
Times New Roman

Customize your Hebrew text type
SBL Hebrew
Times New Roman
Arial

Customize your Greek text type
Gentium
Times New Roman
Arial

Close font preferences
The Blue Letter Bible

BLB Searches

Search the Bible

Search KJV
KJVNKJVNLTNIVESVNASB
RSVASVYLTDBYWEBHNV
RVR60VULWLCLXXmGNTTR
 [?]

Advanced Options

Search a pre-defined list


OR Select a range of biblical books

From:

To:


OR Custom Selection:

Use semicolons to separate groups: 'Gen;Jdg;Psa-Mal' or 'Rom 3-12;Mat 1:15;Mat 5:12-22'

LexiConc

 [?]
 

Advanced Options

Exact Match
Beginning of the Word
Any Part of the Word

Theological FAQs

 [?]
 

Multi-Verse Retrieval

x
Search KJV
KJVNKJVNLTNIVESVNASB
RSVASVYLTDBYWEBHNV
RVR60VULWLCLXXmGNTTR

Line-By-Line Order:
  Verse-Reference
  Reference-Verse
  Separate Line
  Verse Only
  Reference Only
Reference Delimiters:
  None — Jhn 1:1 KJV
  Square — [Jhn 1:1 KJV]
  Curly — {Jhn 1:1 KJV}
  Parens — (Jhn 1:1 KJV)
Paragraph Order:
  Verse-Reference
  Reference-Verse
  Reference-Only
Number Delimiters:*
  No Number
  No Delimiter — 15
  Square — [15]
  Curly — {15}
  Parens — (15)
Other Options:
  Abbreviate Books
  Quotes around Verses
  Remove Square Brackets
 
  Sort Canonically

* 'Number Delimiters' only apply to 'Paragraph Order'

Let's Connect

x

Daily Devotionals

x

The Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans

x

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one’s mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan

Study Resources :: BLB Frequently Asked Questions :: Paul's Thorn in the Flesh

Paul's Thorn in the Flesh

What was the "thorn in the flesh" to which Paul makes reference in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9?

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.—NIV

After Paul had explained his visions and revelations to the Corinthians (2 Cor 12:1-6), he tells them about the thorn in the flesh that was given to him. The apparent purpose of this thorn was beneficiary. Its intent was to keep Paul from conceit on account of his visions and revelations which otherwise may have given him a reason to boast.

There have been many theories as to what exactly this thorn was—so many theories in fact, that it is impossible to diagnose Paul's situation with complete assurance. Some have suggested that Paul's thorn came in the form of Jewish persecution because of the surrounding context speaking of opponents. Even in Numbers 33:55 thorns are used as a metaphor for the enemies of the Israelites. Others have suggested that Paul's own remembrance of his past was his thorn; Paul's past included the persecution of the church (Acts 8:1-3; Gal 1:13; Phil 3:6) which may have continually haunted him and kept him humble. Some even propose that Paul dealt with either carnal temptation or depression.

A physical ailment, however, seems more likely here, though the lack of details forbid a proper diagnosis. Physical infirmities that seem to fit the situation are malaria, Malta fever, epilepsy, convulsive attacks, and chronic ophthalmia.

Many of these physical disabilities also affect the eyesight and it seems probable that even Paul himself experienced difficulty with his vision—this could very well be caused by his thorn in the flesh. Paul took advantage of various amanuenses to do the actual writing of at least some of his epistles. A mentioned amanuensis of Paul is Tertius who wrote down the book of Romans and added his own greeting to the church in Rome (Rom 16:22). Other times we see Paul adding a salutation with his own hands (1 Cor 16:21; 2 Thess 3:17) as opposed to physically writing the entire epistles. Paul even wrote in large print as noted in Gal 6:11. Other evidences of poor vision can be found earlier in the epistle to the Galatians. Paul says that because of physical infirmity he preached the gospel to the Galatians at the first (Gal 4:13). Some have speculated that the physical infirmity was a disease which affected his eyesight and the higher altitude in Galatia would have been better for him, especially if the disease was malaria. And only two verses later Paul states that the Galatian church would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him if it were possible (Gal 4:15). Another example of Paul's poor eyesight is found in Acts 23:3-5. Paul was in the Sanhedrin at this point and referred to the high priest as a "white-washed wall" and those who stood by him asked why he was insulting the high priest. Paul responded by telling them that he did not realize that the man was the high priest. Though Paul, previously being a Pharisee, would have been able to recognize the high priest quite easily. Yet at this point he seemed unable to identify the high priest, even though the high priest would have stood out because he wore special garments and accessories. For a former Pharisee to have not recognized him is likely explained through understanding that Paul was not able to see him properly—giving weight to theories of trouble with his vision.

Paul's thorn came by way of a messenger of Satan in order to torment him. Yet at the same time it was given to him in order that he would not become conceited. The present paradox can be compared to that of the story of Job. Satan was permitted to afflict God's servant, yet only within the parameters set by God (Job 2). Paul also wrote about handing an immoral brother to Satan so that his flesh may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord (1 Cor 5:5). Satan is used at times as an instrument to bolster the faith or prove the righteousness of believers.

The ambiguity of the thorn in the flesh is actually a positive thing. If Paul would have specifically stated the identity of his thorn, believers from following generations may have discarded his experience if they were not afflicted with the same affliction. However, Christians from many generations have benefited by his reference to the thorn while applying it to their specific problems (Murray J. Harris. The Expositors Bible Commentary: 2 Corinthians. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976. p. 396). The thorn of which Paul speaks gives us an understanding of God's perspective concerning physical infirmities. Sometimes God uses illnesses for his purposes. Paul experienced many sufferings outside of his thorn (2 Cor 11:22-28), yet God used him mightily for the furtherance and advancement of His Gospel. The existence of illness or suffering in a believer's life does not necessarily constitute a sinful life or a life that lacks faith. Paul pleaded with the Lord on three separate occasions for the Lord to remove the thorn, yet God's grace was enough for the apostle and His power is made perfect in Paul's weaknesses.

Psalm 138:2

Search

Bible Search

Multiverse Retrieval

LexiConc Search

FAQ Search

Browse Dictionary Topics

Bible Reference

Encyclopedias / Dictionaries

Introductions to the Bible

Topical Indexes

Charts and Outlines

Timelines

Maps / Images

Bible Commentaries

Text Commentaries

Audio & Video Commentaries

Theological Resources

Articles / Books

Women's Resources

Don Stewart

BLB Theological

Creeds, Catechisms, and Confessions

Multimedia

Video

Music

Products

Bookstore

Digital Books

Mobile Apps for iPhone / iPad

Mobile blb.org

BLB Offline CDs

Free Web Tools

Devotionals

Email Devotional Sign-Up

BLB Daily Promises

Day by Day by Grace

Morning and Evening

Daily Bible Reading Plan

Help

Video Tutorials

Support

Theological Questions

Website Support

iApp Support

Sponsorship Information

BLB Bookstore Support

General Questions

Ministries

Sowing Circle

Co-Laboring Ministries

About

About the BLB

Statement of Faith

History

Newsletter

Partnerships

Ministry FAQs

Donate

Donation Information

Contact the BLB


BLB Institute

BLB Blog

Email Newsletters

Facebook

Twitter


Blue Letter Bible is a ministry of Sowing Circle, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

©2013 Sowing Circle

Loading...

Interlinear
Bibles
Cross-Refs
Commentaries
Dictionaries
Miscellaneous

Blue Letter Bible

Loading...

Login

Email / username or password was incorrect!

Check your email for password retrieval

Enter Your
Email or Username

Password

 [?]

 

Why won't my login from the old site work?

Did you forget your password?

Register a new BLB account

Complete the form below to register  [?]

Error: That Email is already registered

Error: Please provide a valid Email

Error: Passwords should have at least 6 characters

Error: Passwords do not match

Error: Please provide a valid first name

Error: That username is already taken

Error: Usernames should only contain letters, numbers, dots, dashes, or underscores

Enter Your EmailUsername

First Name

PasswordRe-enter

[ Cancel ]

 

Thank you for registering. A verification email has been sent to the address you provided.

Error: That Email / Username is not registered

Enter Your Email or Username

 

Return to Login

Close Login