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"  
  - 2 Corinthians 12:7


     What was Paul's, "thorn in the flesh" ?

     Theologians have argued for decades or more over this verse. But by listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and by utilizing His system of word study which is incorporated into the King James Bible: we can come to an exact conclusion.

     Today the majority of theological doctors have concluded that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was obviously an eye problem. But, as is the norm for these prideful chaps, they have missed the mark completely.

     When there is a lot of controversy over a verse: Satan is by confusion attempting to hide important truths!

     To begin our journey, we need to do a quick 'word study' on the word: thorn. Never forget that the only Bible you can do accurate word studies with is a King James Bible. It is the last Bible that was ever translated from the true and correct Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

     The 1st mention of the word "thorn" is found at Genesis 3:18...

   "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field"  
  - Genesis 3:18  

     Here the ground is cursed with thorns and thistles, after the fall of Adam.

     The 3rd mention is...

   "But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell"  
  - Numbers 33:55  

     Here the word "thorn" implies: provocation, source of instigation or exasperation.

     The 4th mention is...

   "Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you"  
  - Joshua 23:13  

     Here the word "thorn" means basically the same as in Numbers 33:55.

     We well have to remember that Paul who was formerly a highly trained Pharisee, was very knowledgeable of the Old Testament. He was extremely aware of its words, its phrases and their meanings. Many times the meanings of the phrases and words that Paul uses, are found out more perfectly by going back to the Old Testament.

     Now we go from keeping thorns away, so that they cannot provoke, to getting rid of thorns that have already provoked.

   "And the light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame: and it shall burn and devour his thorns and his briers in one day"  
  - Isaiah 10:17  

     To get the context of Isaiah chapter 10, we would have to read the whole chapter starting at verse 5, but I will summarize it.

     At verse 5 it states: “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation – Assyria had been the instrument that God used for chastising His people. So through the rest of the chapter up to our verse 17, it shows God leading up to the destruction of the Assyrians. Then at verse 17 the thorns represent the Assyrians.

     Therefore we see that "thorns" are a type’. That type being in this case specifically Assyrians, enemies of Israel. But more generally as we have seen, “thorns” are a ‘type’ representing: an enemy or one who provokes.

     We then find this same 'type' utilized in the New Testament...

   "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?"  
  - Matthew 7:15-16  

     In the Parable of the Sower, as the Sower is sowing seed it states, “And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit – Matthew 13:7 to 8a.

     Notice the contrast between thorns being aggressive and choking the seed near it, and the other seeds becoming fruit.

     Here in the New Testament we can add ‘evil’ to our definition of “thorn” as a type representing an enemy, one who provokes and is evil. Jesus even had a crown of thorns pressed into His scalp.

     Then lastly, we come to study the final mention of the word "thorns"...

   "(7) For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: (8) But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned"  
  - Hebrews 6:7-8  

     Again, note the diametric contrast: verse 7, the herbs receive blessing from God and verse 8, thorns are to be rejected, cursed and burned.

     The ‘thorns’ seem to connect well with the devil and his angels

   "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels"  
  - Matthew 25:41  

     So, we now have seen a fairly full definition of our thorn ‘type’, and it is: an enemy, it provokes, is evil and demonic.

     Now that we did a basic 'word study' on “thorn”, the next word we need to understand is the word: messenger.

   "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"  
  - 2 Corinthians 12:7  

     This word “messenger” that is used here, is translated from the exact same Greek word that is translated 177 other times as the word: angel or angels. Then 6 other times it is translated as: messenger or messengers. In the Bible, an angel is a messenger.

     Therefore this messenger in Paul’s epistle is an angel, but since this angel is connected to Satan, that would make this messenger a fallen angel/demonic spirit.

     To further understand the phrase Paul uses here, "messenger of Satan to buffet me" we need to go back to the Book of Job...

   "And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life"  
  - Job 2:3-6  

     Please note the similarities between Job and Paul in the eyes of God. Was not Paul also, "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?".

     Also, it was most certainly true that if Satan was after Job to destroy his testimony, he would have also assailed Paul. Satan would at every opportunity have attacked Paul in some method, but it would have had to have been within the parameters set down by God.

   "Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches"  
  - 2 Corinthians 11:24-28


     Notice that this is written just before our featured verse, which we are now currently discussing, 2 Corinthians 12: 7 !

     And to make absolutely clear that Satan knew just exactly who Paul was, just turn to the Book of Acts where the seven sons of Sceva are attempting to order a demon out of a man (the pagan term is: Exorcism)...

   "And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye"  
  - Acts 19:14-15  

     Just a question to think about: do the devils know you? Are they concerned about you?

     FYI - the reason that the term Exorcism is in fact pagan, is that in the occult: pagans or witches sometimes come across a ‘spirit’ they are unable to control or that they cannot rid themselves of (maybe another witch cast a spell on them). This blocks the path of the spirits the pagan/witch is familiar with. Therefore, they must go to a witch who is in ‘possession’ of more powerful ‘spirits’ than the one they are trying to rid themselves of. This ‘more powerful’ witch, wizard, or whatever, will Exorcize (cast) that spirit out of their life; freeing the weaker witch of their 'problem', so that they can then go back to communicating with the spirits that they are familiar with.

     Therefore... did Jesus perform Exorcisms? No, Jesus did not, but yes He did cast out ‘spirits’; in fact Jesus cast out all the spirits including any familiar spirits’. These ‘spirits’ are fallen angels, devils or demons, whatever name you choose. Now, do priests of the Vatican perform Exorcisms? The answer to that is, yes.

     Therefore, through the understanding we have gained from the knowledge contained in the Bible by ‘word study’ and comparing scripture with scripture...

   "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual"  
  - 1 Corinthians 2:13  

     So, wisdom tells us that the "thorn in the flesh" is a "messenger of Satan" just exactly as Paul had so clearly and plainly stated. Or, in other words and self-evidently, the thorn is a fallen angel (demon). When you think about it, you wonder how Theological Doctors cannot see the clear-cut, on its face understanding of this verse. Maybe it’s their hermeneutics. They have written in books and commentaries very elaborately, how Paul’s thorn in the flesh was an eyesight problem. In a minute we will prove this supposed “fact”to be completely erroneous, as well as elaborate more on this verse.

     It is so obvious that the Holy Spirit is not operative in the lives of these PhD’s and scholars. Pride, and men idolizing themselves and their peers, as well as striving to be 'politically correct' in whichever clique they choose to run in, or run after; this quenches the Holy Spirit's proper influence in their life. Though, do not thou thinkist for a minute that having a theological degree, means that someone is Born-Again. Never let them intimidate you(!), for they will try.

     The critical truth Satan is attempting to obstruct in this verse, is the reality of the spiritual realm. Concealing himself and his fallen angels ability to influence Christian's testimonies, or to make Christian's apathetic. And, that the closer you get and keep to God - the more powerful demonic spirit(s) Satan orders to harass you.

     Another time Paul counseled about these "messengers of Satan"...

   "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"  
  - Ephesians 6:11-12  

     Then, Paul goes on to instruct us on how to stand against these "messengers of Satan" in verses 13 through 20, of Ephesians chapter 6.

     But the admonition begins prior to that in verse 10, where the Holy Spirit through Paul states, "be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might”, this concept must be ingrained in you, for any of it to function correctly.

     The second witness of instruction, about how to deal with these messengers of Satan when they attempt to influence your flesh and/or life, is found in the Book of James...

   "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you"  
  - James 4:7-8a  

     You must maintain that exact order. Submit to God first! Then, you can resist! You cannot resist in your own power. For if you try to resist -- without first submitting to God -- Satan's messenger will run you over then back up over you, and run you over again!

     Been there, done that!

     Now back to our featured verse!

     The "in the flesh" part, of "thorn in the flesh" has to do with the fact that Satan and his fallen angels, cannot touch Paul's soul nor spirit. For since the time that Paul was Born-Again, Paul's soul and spirit are inhabited and enclosed by the Holy Spirit...

   "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise"  
  - Ephesians 1:13  

     The Holy Spirit 'seals off' the soul and spirit from the flesh, or in other words he spiritually circumcises the flesh from the soul and spirit of the Born-Again Christian, otherwise God could not indwell your body...

   "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ"  
  - Colossians 2:11  

     So, Paul being as he is a Born-Again Christian, Satan cannot get at his soul nor spirit. But the flesh is another story altogether!

     Paul gave us insight as to how this "thorn" attempts to influence his flesh...

   "For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin"  
  - Romans 7:14-25  

     And also...

   "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would"  
  - Galatians 5:16-17  

         Just in case you haven't figured it out yet, your flesh and the devils are a team. They are in league together to work against God, and whatever righteousness of God you would want to do. Your 'flesh' is Satan's domain. This explains why following God in your life takes so much effort, and is such hard work.

     So when Paul requested the Father to stop all access of the "messengers of Satan": God refused. God the Father wanted Paul to go through this life, as all other men and women are to go: by faith and the power of God.

   "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"  
  - 2 Corinthians 12:7  

     Note that two times here in the same verse, Paul is letting us know that he knows the reason for God allowing this to be happening to him. God knows that Paul would be lift up with pride and would not be as useful to believers and unbelievers, as God needs him to be. Paul also knows this because his personal make-up is of that structure, which is how he became such a high ranking Pharisee.

     So how does Satan fit into this whole design that Paul is describing? It is because he is out to destroy Paul’s past legacy and reputation; by repeated efforts to get Paul to wreck his testimony, and to also cut short Paul’s future labors for God. This then causes Paul to go frequently to God in prayer, to seek comfort and direction from God.

     God the Father did not stop all access of Satan, even to His own Son, Jesus Christ. Remember Satan trying to tempt Jesus in the wilderness? In this recorded case Satan delivered the message – personally, no messengers.

     But by far, this was not the only harassment of Jesus that was done by Satan and his messengers, for we read in Hebrews...

   "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted"  
  - Hebrews 2:16-18  

     And also...

   "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin"  
  - Hebrews 4:14-15  

     Therefore, if God the Father spared not His own Son, He was not going to spare Paul. I'm sure Paul already knew the answer, but thought he might ask anyway. Also, Paul mentions that he asked this 3 times, it may have been years between each time - who knows?

     Now back to what we stated at the beginning... When there is controversy over a verse: Satan is by confusion attempting to hide important truths.

     That truth -- as we have been making a point of -- is the reality of the spiritual realm. Of Satan and his demons power to influence and/or destroy the lives of any and all people in this world. For the most part he has the secular world believing that he and his demonic hordes do not even exist. In fact, he has many in Christendom not believing that he (Satan) and his hordes, along with an actual place called Hell - do not actually exist.

     In fact, most Born-Again Christians only give mental assent that Satan, fallen angels and Hell - exist. But by watching their lives, it is obvious that these truths are not real to them.

     A concept that has to get in-grained into our heart and mind, is that... ALL things are spiritual !

     So why does Satan utilize confusion much of the time, and why does it work so well for him? It is because confusion creates doubt. Doubt creates loss of confidence. Loss of confidence creates loss of interest! Other times, this confusion on Biblical doctrines (teachings) can create rebellion, even to a strong feeling for revenge(!); when a person realizes that they have been used or lied to.

     The confusion in the minds of Christians concerning the fundamentals of Biblical principles, is unwarranted and unjustified. It need not exist, and would not exist if the Christian leaders, Bible colleges and institutions did not aid and abet the deceptions responsible for it.

     The guilt for this confusion, doubt and loss of interest, rests almost exclusively upon the supposed Christian leadership, not Christians in general. The apathetic Christian "leaders" will be charged with responsibility for the increasing dilution of the devotion of countless Christians, and their lack of faith – before the Throne of Christ... face to face... eyeball to eyeball !

  "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven"  
  - Matthew 5:19  
  "And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully"  
  - 2 Timothy 2:5  
  "My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation"  
  - James 3:1  

     But, that will only be the ones who are truly Born-Again by the Blood of Jesus Christ and sincerely repented. One has got to come to grips with the fact that the majority of the so-called Christian leaders, are not on their way to an Eternity in Heaven, but will instead be prosecuted at the Great White Throne Judgment and spend their Eternity in the Lake of Fire!

   "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves... Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity"  
  - Matthew 7:15 and 21-23  

     Most Christian leaders, ministers, professors and book writers only really care about obtaining their goals in this life, leaving the common Christian to fend for themselves.

     There is an invisible ideological and spiritual war now being very subversively waged against Biblical faith. This - couldn't care-less attitude - displayed in the lives of most Christian 'leaders' towards real-life spiritual warfare: offers no opposition to the aggressors against Biblical faith!

     There are a few devoted and dedicated Christians in this struggle, that see the Biblical-Christian faith withering on the vine and about ripe enough to ‘drop into the lap’ of its dedicated enemies. Their cup is made bitterer for them as they observe this unwarranted and unjustified ignorance and indifference on the part of supposed Christian 'leadership'.

     Now, just in case you're curious, where do these theological doctors get their eye problem thing? We will review the verses that they quote.

     First, lets look at...

   "Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me"  
  - Galatians 4:15  

     Now I ask you, of your 5 senses which is the most important to you? Most everyone would say that it is their eye sight; I know that I would.

     So in this verse where Paul mentions "eyes", Paul is in other words saying - 'At one time ye loved me so much, that ye would have given me your most important and vital asset'. It does not prove that Paul had bad eye sight.

     The next point is...

   "Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand"  
  - Galatians 6:11  

     Note: it does not state, "I have written in large letters". But this is exactly what supposed theologians contend. They declare that Paul is stating here, that Paul used large letters when he wrote this epistle - this is absuredly beyond comprehension(!).

     But, what Paul is obviously stating is completely self-evident, again. He wrote, "see how large a letter I have written", or he also could have said, 'how long a letter'. If you look at the other epistles Paul 'wrote', you will find that half of them Paul dictated and someone else wrote down what Paul was dictating to them, especially the longer ones such as: Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians and Hebrews.

     Another reason I have against Paul being nearly blind, as the professors claim, is that Jesus himself stated of the Pharisees and other religious leaders of his day several times, "they be blind leaders of the blind" - Matthew 15:14, and "Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?" - Luke 6:39.

     So with this in scripture, why on earth would God make the Apostle Paul blind?! I am most certain that Paul's enemies would like more than anything to say of Paul, "He is a blind leader of the blind!" and to be able to say that legitimately. But, I would agree that this particular point is but a theory of mine.

     Another argument the 'theologians' bring up is that Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus (Acts - Chapter 9). Then when Paul got to Damascus, "scales" fell from Paul's eyes (verse 18) and Paul was never able to see well again.

     Do you understand what these so-called theologians are insinuating? They are saying that God cannot heal someone properly nor completely. I just cannot buy that.

     The last one that we'll deal with, is found in the Book of Acts...

   "And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens"  
  - Acts 17:15a  

     The theological doctors claim that this means that Paul was: weak, sickly and could hardly see where he was going.

     But to get a better comprehension of the situation, you have to read the two verses prior to get the context: “But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea”.

     Here it would seem that they that conducted Paul were more on the order of body guards according to the context, to help protect Paul from attackers. Normally Paul had helpers and disciples that followed with him, to help him out, and you have to remember there were robbers and bandits in his day as well.

         Think back to Jesus, they that conducted Jesus were 12 Apostles, and...

   "And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him"  
  - Matthew 27:55  

     I ask you... was Jesus weak, sickly and half blind?

     Here is a case of Timothy being conducted, “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me – 1 Corinthians 16:10-11.

     Now going back to Paul, we find later on in the Book of Acts: Paul preaching and talking "even till break of day, so he departed" - Acts 20:11.

     Then 2 verses later we find that Paul, after having been up all that night, walks on to the next destination, while many of his entourage went ahead by ship!

   "And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene"  
  - Acts 20:13-14  

     Therefore -- as to whether Paul was weak, sickly and half blind -- the Bible emphatically states a resounding: NO!!

-- by Ed Elkins

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