Summary: This sermon deals with Paul’s thorn in the flesh. We all have our thorn in the flesh. How will we react to the pain?
OUCH! THAT HURTS!
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."
Countless numbers of ministers have preached on these verses before and I don’t presume to have any “new revelation” of what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. Other Bible scholars, much more learned than I, have been unable to ascertain just what bothered Paul, even though a number of opinions have surfaced. It may be that all, or some, or one, or perhaps none of these opinions are correct because the scripture doesn’t give us a clear answer concerning Paul’s thorn.
I believe that God has purposely left out the details of Paul’s thorn on purpose. I think that God intends for us all to think of those things that Satan brings against us, to vex us, knock us down, to discourage us and to allow for the testing of our faith in God.
I don’t know about you, but I have a thorn, or should I say many thorns, that seem to just pop out of nowhere to give me a pain in my body, pain in my heart and pain in my spirit.
What are some of those opinions on what Paul’s thorn was?
1)Tertullian, a Carthaginian theologian who converted to Christianity, wrote that, according to his study, Paul suffered from severe earaches or headaches.
2)Some later commentators, from the Medieval Period, said that Paul had a problem with unruly fleshly lusts and desires that he was constantly having to repent of and put down.
3)One scholar, by the name of MacKnight, concluded that Paul had a bad problem with stuttering or a stammering speech.
4)Another by the name of Ramsay, said that Paul had reoccurring bouts with malaria.
5)The majority of scholars mostly agree that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was acute eye problems. This may carry some weight since it seems to agree with two passages of scripture that Paul wrote.
a. Galatians 4:13-15, "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. 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."
b. Galatians 6:11, "Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand." Some of these same scholars say that Paul’s eye problems were the result of the blinding vision of light that knocked him off his horse on the road to Damascus.
6)Many other scholars believe that it was not a physical thorn in the flesh that attacked Pauls’ body, but it was the fact that he suffered from so many infirmities and so much persecution. These, they say, were Paul’s real thorn in the flesh.
Whatever Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, we do know one thing – Paul didn’t like it and desired for God to take it away permanently. It was something that tended to bother him continuously or, at the very least, very frequently.
Personally, I tend to believe that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was something much more hurtful than just a physical ailment. But then, that’s my opinion and it’s no better or worse than anyone else’s opinion on the matter.
The point that I want to make with all of this is, regardless of what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, we all have things in our lives that are vexing to us. Satan knows just what to bring against you that will cause you the most pain and suffering. The devil is seeking for ways to kill your faith, steal your victory and destroy your eternal soul in hell and he never quits trying to do just that.
Paul says that he received his thorn to vex him “lest I should be exalted above measure”.
The great Apostle Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, preacher extraordinaire, teacher of the deep things of God, establisher of numerous churches than spanned just about the whole known world of his day, said, from his own lips, that he knew the reason for his thorn was to keep him humble before God. Paul was a man who was no different than any of us. He loved to be praised. He loved to be lifted up. In fact, he loved it so much that if God had not allowed this thorn to come to him, Paul may have become too full of pride or self-conceit and would have been useless to the Kingdom of God and the spread of the gospel.