What was Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh?

The Scripture where we read of Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” is 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

I hold to a view of this Scripture which is perhaps not as common as the other views, but nonetheless, I believe it is quite clear when examining the context.

Paul doesn’t leave us with any doubt as to the exact identity of this “thorn in the flesh”. He goes on to say that it is “the messenger of Satan to buffet” him. This is a fallen angel that was especially assigned to Paul by Satan, and one that God allowed, in order to keep Paul humble. So this was really a spiritual thing first, and a physical thing secondarily. But how did this angel of Satan afflict and “buffet” Paul? I believe it is very clear in the context that it was through severe persecution. The “thorn in the flesh” was really a “messenger of Satan” sent to “buffet” Paul, and indeed, this is exactly what happened almost everywhere he went. He was buffeted, beat, thrown into jail, resisted, persecuted, and many attempts were made to kill him. A quick read through the book of Acts makes it pretty clear that in addition to great success in the Gospel, utter disaster followed Paul wherever he went. This is not happenstance; it is the result of satanic opposition which God allowed to keep Paul humble.

Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a fallen angel that followed him around everywhere he went and stirred up people against him to persecute him, torture him, and afflict him. And not only did this fallen angel stir up people against Paul, but also stirred up all kinds of other trouble (such as shipwrecks –let’s face it, it’s extremely rare that any man of that time would be in more than one shipwreck, yet Paul was in at least three!). This messenger from Satan saw to it that Paul faced the most opposition as God permitted him to face in an attempt to slow him down. But we all know that God used it for His glory, and turned it rather into a means of sanctification to Paul, to work in him a deeper humility and reliance upon the grace of Christ.

Just prior to when Paul mentioned his thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians here, he had related to the Corinthians all of the severe hardships he had gone through:

Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool; I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).

The Lord saw to it that when Paul experienced great success in his ministry, that there was great persecution and trials along with it, in order that Paul could continue to rely fully on God’s power and grace and not his own ability or success. This is true of all Christians when God appoints for us trials and hardships and we endure them faithfully with an obedient heart to the Lord, trusting fully in His grace. We don’t all have a special messenger of Satan assigned to us to persecute and afflict us, but we are all appointed to trials (1 Thes. 3:3). Hard times teach us to draw nearer and nearer to Christ, and when we are at our wit’s end, and at the end of ourselves, we rely more fully on His power and He makes Himself our deliverer. This is exactly what happened with Paul.

This is my view at least, and while I respect other people’s views, I have to say that I strongly believe Paul’s terrible thorn in the flesh was much more than just an eye problem. It may have resulted in that (after all, once you’re beat up so many times in your life your body may just stop functioning properly), but what I read in the context here goes far beyond that! The context of 2 Corinthians where he speaks of this thorn in the flesh cannot be ignored. It is quite clear what he is speaking about.

 

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In Christ -Josef
www.puregospeltruth.com

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A Disciple follows Christ as Prophet, Priest, & King

The term ‘disciple’ literally means, “disciplined one”. A disciple is a person who comes under the discipline and authority of another in order to learn from them and be trained by them for a specific purpose. To be a disciple of Christ is to come under His authority and to submit to Him, not in just some areas of life, but in all of life. It is to take His yoke upon us and to learn from Him (Mat. 11:29). It is to look up to Him as our great Prophet, Priest, and King.

A true disciple follows Christ as his mighty Prophet. That is, the disciple looks to Christ to hear the very words of God and listens. As God promised Moses: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). Christ is the one who speaks into the disciple’s life words of wisdom, words of knowledge, words of counsel, words of direction and guidance. And when the disciple gets out of line, he will listen to Christ’s word of rebuke and humble himself before God, since Christ is the Prophet of all prophets. He searches the hearts of men just like He searched the secrets of the seven churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 2, 3) and speaks with the full authority of Heaven and earth into men’s lives. He is the one before every disciple shouting, “This is the way, walk ye in it!” (Isa. 30:21). The true disciple will earnestly long for the word of Christ as his Prophet, and will study His Word and obey it to show himself approved unto God. The disciple will love the word of Christ, the Bible. He will walk in the counsel of the Most High on the narrow path which leads to life, led by the voice of the Son of God, and will show his love for the Lord by obeying Christ’s commandments, which were not just His, but came from the Father Himself (John 12:49).

A true disciple trusts Christ as his holy High Priest. The disciple of Christ is not trusting in his own righteousness, but in the righteousness of Christ. The disciple does not take any credit or think he deserves any merit for the deeds he does of himself, but by faith he looks solely to the merit of Christ, Who stands as our representative before God. The disciple looks up to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and has free access with a living, personal relationship with the Father, through the mediation of Christ. “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” (Hebrews 4:14). The disciple has boldness to confess that he is a child of God, and has regular fellowship with the Father through Christ and has boldness to go before the Throne of grace in the Heavens and make requests from God. The disciple knows he has no righteousness of his own, but is trusting in the blood of the Lamb, which makes atonement for the soul. The disciple is trusting in the finished work of Christ, trusting fully in His life, death and resurrection as the basis of his faith, and looks to Christ as his sole Mediator between him and God. The disciple knows that when he stumbles, he can confess his sins and the Lord will forgive, since Christ is his great Advocate (defense attorney) with the Father who pleads the disciple’s cause, having already appeased the wrath of God through the propitiation of His priestly sacrifice (1 John 2:1-2).

A true disciple submits to Christ as his majestic King. The disciple does not merely want a fire insurance policy, that is, a free ticket out of Hell. The true disciple will walk in salvation from sin, being set free from the power and dominion of sin. And to do this, he will sanctify himself through the washing of water by the Word, not being a hearer of the Word only, but a doer of the Word. He will submit to the authority of Christ as his great King and obey Him as his Master. He will bow the knee of humble submission before all that Christ says in His Word. The disciple will have a heart of willing obedience to Christ, counting it a joy to forsake his own life to follow the great King who laid down His life for us. The disciple’s greatest inward desire is to please Christ. His greatest fear is to hear Christ say, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). And not only does the disciple want to obey Christ himself, but he seeks to see the whole world also obey Christ, and he longs for the day when his King will return and establish His literal kingdom and rule the nations with a rod of iron. The true disciple’s greatest joy is to prostrate himself before Christ the King in all things in life. Christ becomes the identity of the true disciple, as the disciple renounces himself, dies to his own self, takes up his cross, and follows Him. The disciple sees himself as no longer his own, but the property of another, a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven, and a servant of its King.

So in conclusion, a disciple is a man (or woman) of the Word. It is someone who FOLLOWS Christ, and not just professes Him with their lips. It is someone who fellowships with the people that Christ fellowships with, loves the people of God, and delights to be around his fellow peers who are also following Christ. A disciple is someone in learning, and is ever growing in knowledge and holiness as he looks to Jesus.

Or, to summarize everything I just said, and to put it as simply as possible, a disciple is a person who LOVES the Lord Jesus Christ with all their heart.

Just the ponderings of a foolish thing of this world.
www.puregospeltruth.com

A List of Prophecies in Psalm 22

1. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (Psalms 22:1).

This was fulfilled in Matthew 27:46.

Jesus Christ felt forsaken of the Father as He hung on the cross and suffered the wrath of God against sin and died as the sinner’s substitute. The Bible says in Galatians 3:13 that Jesus actually became a curse, and suffered under the curse of the Father while bearing our sin, that we might be freed from the curse and given the blessing of Abraham, eternal life through the Holy Spirit.

2. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. (Psalms 22:6).

This is an amazing prophecy, but to capture the fullness of it, we have to look at the Hebrew text behind it. The Hebrew word translated, “worm” in our Bible is actually a name of a very specific worm in Israel. It is a worm that would first be dried out, and then crushed in order to extract a red dye from. This is significant. The same Hebrew word occurs 42 times in the Old Testament, and only 8 of those times is it translated “worm(s)”. The rest of the occurrences translate it as “scarlet” and once as “crimson”. The application is tremendous: Jesus Christ was dried out in intense suffering, and was crushed like a worm under the wrath of God in order to extract the precious bright red substance from Him, His sinless blood, which would be applied to men as a precious dye to cover their sin.

3. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (Psalms 22:7-8).

This details the intense ridicule and humility He suffered on the Cross. This was literally fulfilled in Matthew 27:39-44.

4. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. (Psalms 22:9-10).

Jesus Christ is the only one who could say this rightfully. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary, born a sinless child, always righteous, always perfect, always trusting in God the Father in perfect obedience. Even by the time He was only 12, He was already speaking in circles around the theologians of His day about the deep things of God.

5. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. (Psalms 22:11-13).

The strong bulls of Bashan are spoken of because of the reputation of them in the Psalmist’s day as being the strongest, fiercest bulls. This is speaking of the Roman soldiers who crucified Him, who showed no mercy to their victims, but gouged them with their horns of power to pieces. Like wild beasts, they brutally tortured their victims.

6. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. (Psalms 22:15).

Fulfilled, as Christ’s strength left His body. Just at the end of the horrific event, He shouted out, “I thirst” (John 19:28) just prior to His shout of victory, “It is finished!” He died and was buried.

7. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalms 22:16).

“Dogs” was a common Jewish term of insult when talking about Gentiles. The heathen Gentiles would be surrounding Christ during such sufferings, fulfilled at the Cross as the Roman soldiers crucified Him. And His hands and His feat were pierced through to the cross as the wicked gathered around Him in ridicule.

8. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. (Psalms 22:17).

Not a bone of His was broken, fulfilled in John 19:36.

9. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. (Psalms 22:18).

Fulfilled in John 19:24.

10. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. (Psalms 22:22).

This is speaking of His glorious resurrection after He was brought down to the dust of death. This was fulfilled literally when Christ appeared to His Jewish brethren, the Apostles, after His resurrection, when they were gathered together in John 20:26. He declared the triumph of God over the works of Satan in the midst of the church.

11. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. (Psalms 22:27).

This is a glorious prophecy that has been fulfilled as we look around and see all the ends of the world, the Gentile nations, remembering the death of the Son of God and believing in Him for the remission of sins. All the families of the nations are worshipping before God, and will finally worship Him forever, as in Revelation 5:9.

12. For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations. (Psalms 22:28).

This has seen partial fulfillment already, as Gd has proven that He indeed is the King and Ruler of all the earth. Yet, it will see a more literal fulfillment during the Millennial Kingdom of Christ that will come when He returns to earth. Fulfilled completely in Revelation 19:15.