• "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]
About Paul's Thorn
in the Flesh:
One of the most common arguments to the idea that it
is God’s WILL for ALL to be Healed is the mention of
what the scriptures refer to as the Apostle Paul’s
THORN IN THE FLESH.
And what we BELIEVE about that thorn - what is was -
where it came from - and so on - WILL have a DIRECT
effect on our ABILITY to RECEIVE the Healing that
Jesus paid FOR us - in His Body on the cross.
Unfortunately … What most people believe today is
NOT what the Scriptures SAY - But rather what they
have been TAUGHT about that Thorn.
So I want to examine the scriptures today - And see
if what we BELIEVE - is what the Scriptures actually
SAY - Or is what we believe based upon some
religious of traditional denominational doctrine.
Now when it comes to UNDERSTANDING or INTERPRETING
scripture - we must ALWAYS use the Scriptures -
REMEMBER: Scripture Interprets Scripture.
We must be VERY careful NOT to allow and
preconceived ideas or opinions - or personal
experiences or failures - to muddy the water - or
dissuade us from what the scriptures actually SAY.
So we are going to Look at the scriptures ONLY - and
then draw our conclusion from what the SCRIPTURES
SAY. And if that means that we must correct our
thinking - then let’s correct our thinking!
This thorn in the flesh that Apostle Paul mentioned
has been used - and misused by Christians to justify
submitting to nearly any problem that comes along.
Satan has twisted this passage of Scripture to
deceive many people into believing that God would
not heal Paul, ---- and if we believe THAT - How
then can WE expect to be healed?
So let’s Let us examine this closely and find out
exactly what Paul's thorn in the flesh was.
“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.” [2 Corinthians 12:7-10]
Notice that the scriptures state clearly in VERSE
SEVEN that this "thorn" came because of the
abundance of revelations Paul had received.
• And lest I should be exalted
above measure BECAUSE OF the abundance of the
In other words: Until a person has an abundance
of revelations, similar to what Paul had, there is
little possibility that they will have a "thorn"
such as Paul had.
That would disqualify just about everyone who has
been hiding behind Paul's thorn as an excuse
for not using their faith to receive the promise of
healing that 1 Peter 2:24 promises.
Verse 7 also states clearly that this "Thorn" came
lest (or to prevent) Paul from being be ‘exalted
above measure’. A more accurate translation is “To
keep me from being excessively exalted” By GOD!
REMEMBER that is was GOD who was the one who had
given Paul the revelations)
Traditionally, that verse has been interpreted to
say the thorn was sent (by the Lord) to keep Paul
humble. And if that is true - then surely God had to
be the cause - or origin of this ‘thorn’, because
only God would want Paul to be humble.
BUT IS THAT TRUE?
Does the SCRIPTURE state that GOD was the CAUSE of
ORIGIN of this ‘Thorn in the flesh’.
What if there is a GODLY way of being exalted- - -
BY GOD Himself.
If there IS - then the idea that it was GOD who was
afflicting Paul to keep him humble would have NO
FORTUNATELY- - - There IS a godly way of being
exalted - And scripture states clearly that God WILL
GOD DOES THE
“Humble yourselves therefore
under the mighty hand of God, that He [ GOD) may
exalt -or lift you up’ in due time." [Peter
Scriptures States clearly that: Those who submit
themselves to God - [Humble themselves] - will be
exalted by God.
According to what this passage actually SAYS - Paul
was not speaking of exalting himself above measure
through pride, God Himself was exalting Paul thru
the incredible revelation that He was giving to
FURTHERMORE: the scripture state clearly that the
thorn came from SATAN---- to keep Paul from being
exalted by God in the eyes of the people.
The Apostle Paul was receiving tremendous
revelations from the Lord Jesus Himself that was
changing what everyone believed about salvation and
grace - healing/ deliverance - including the
original remaining 11 Apostles - Peter included. [2
Add to that the fact that verse 2 Corinthians 12:12
- and Acts 19:11 tells us that SPECIAL MIRACLES were
being done by Paul - things unlike anything ever
seen before - - - So people whole cities were being
affected by His preaching! [see Acts 13]
And many more people would have received what Paul
preached if everything was always "rosy" for him. So
this messenger of Satan is sent to buffet
Paul - and scare away the faint-hearted from
committing themselves to Jesus, whom Paul was
We see another example of God Magnifying or Exalting
Someone in Joshua:
• “God magnified, or exalted,
Joshua in the sight of his people” [Joshua
And another example of How GOD Himself exalted
people in the NEW covenant is found in Acts 5:13:
• “The apostles performed many
signs and wonders among the people. And all the
believers used to meet together in Solomon's
Colonnade.  No one else dared join them, but the
people magnified (exalted) them.” [Act
So, we see that the exalting spoken of is not a
negative or sinful kind - but rather a godly kind.
Add to this the FACT that the scripture states
SPECIFICALLY that the thorn was a: Messenger of
SATAN - not God!
One of the problems that has plagued the Church is
the fact that there have been so MANY speculations
as to what exactly Paul’s ‘THORN in the Flesh” was.
But again: If we are willing to ACCEPT what the
Scriptures SAY - then we can immediately clear up
In verse 7, right after the thorn in the flesh is
mentioned there is a phrase set off by commas in
which Paul says, "I was given a thorn in my flesh,
a messenger of Satan,."
THIS IS AN EXPLANATION OF WHAT THE THORN WAS.
t was not an "infirmity" such as a sickness or an
"eye problem" as so many have wrongly speculated.
IT WAS A DEMONIC MESSENGER - a demon - an unclean
The word used here in the GREEK (Angelos) that is
translated as "messenger"- is always translated as
angel or messenger - one who is sent - and it refers
to a created being.
So, the SCRIPTURES tell us that Paul's thorn was
literally a demon sent from Satan to buffet him. FYI
- The word "buffet" means to strike repeatedly as
waves would buffet the shore.
So How did this
demonic force continually strike or Buffet Paul?
Traditionally it has been taught that it was with
The REASON that many have accepted this explanation
is the use of the words "weakness" and "infirmity"
in verses 9 and 10 in the King James translation.
• “And he (God) 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.”
[2 Corinthians 12: 9-10]
It is certainly true that the word
‘infirmity’ certainly CAN mean sickness and is even
used that way in 1 Timothy 5:23.
• “Drink no longer water, but
use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine
often infirmities.” (1Timothy 5:23)
But that is NOT the ONLY meaning of
It CAN also mean ‘lack or inadequacy” - such as a
lack of ability:
EXAMPLE: Speaking of our prayer life -
• "Likewise the Spirit also
helps our infirmities." [Romans 8:26}
In this passage, the context makes it clear that it
is NOT speaking of sicknesses - but rather not
KNOWING what to pray for. Because of our limited
understanding of things in general - or the future
makes our ability to pray as we SHOULD difficult
Here we see that is our MINDS that are the
infirmity, or an inadequacy - not because of
sickness - but because of our NOT KNOWING.
CONTEXT - CONTEXT
If we look at the context of Paul's mention of his
thorn in the flesh in verses 9-10, we can see
clearly that the word ‘infirmity is NOT referring to
a sickness that Paul was suffering from.
In 2 Corinthians 11:23-30, Paul uses the exact
terminology of "glorying in infirmities" that
he also uses again in just a few verses later when
speaking about this very thorn.
• "Are they ministers of
Christ? (I speak as a fool) (Then) I am more; in
labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in
prisons more frequent, in being danger of death more
often. 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. Besides
everything else, I face daily the pressure of my
concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am
not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must
needs glory (NIV: boast) , I will glory of the
things which concern mine infirmities.” [2
Corinthians 11: 23-30]
In the eleventh chapter Paul specifically LISTS
what those infirmities were that he referred to in
In verses 23-29, he lists such things as
imprisonment, stripes, shipwrecks, and being stoned;
none of these speak of sickness. Verse 27 mentions
weakness and painfulness, which some have tried to
make mean sickness, but it is just as possible he
could have been weary and suffered painfulness from
such things as being stoned and left for dead (Acts
14:19). All these things listed in 2 Corinthians 11
refer to persecutions as infirmities.
In verses 23-29 He lists:
• Stripes (the times he was whipped or flogged)
• Being stoned
NONE OF THESE IS SICKNESS:
Verse 27 mentions weakness and painfulness, which
some have tried to make mean sickness,
But considering the context it’s more reasonable to
conclude that the PAIN and weariness was a result of
the things he suffered - like being STONED and left
I don’t know about you - but after enduring being
beaten with rod THREE times
• Being STONED and left for dead
• Being shipwrecked not once but THREE times
• Spending a night and a day trying not to drown in
• Not to mention ALL the other PERILS he suffered
I MIGHT be a little tired - and have a few aches and
Did you notice that the things Paul Mentions as the
tests - trials - and PERSECUTIONS he endured
- But NOT one of them mentioned is ‘sickness”
Yet He specifically CALLS them “Infirmities”
• “If I must needs glory (NIV:
boast), I will glory of the things which concern
mine infirmities.” [2 Corinthians 11:30]
Therefore, using the basic law of interpretation of
context AND by reading what the scripture actually
SAYS, Paul's thorn was a demonic angel or
messenger sent by Satan which continually
stirred up persecution against him.
STAY WITH ME!
Now I realize that this might be hard for some
people to swallow - But I encourage you to continue
reading along with me as we discover the TRUTH about
Paul’s “thorn in the flesh”.
DID YOU KNOW THAT THERE ARE 3 OLD TESTAMENT
PASSAGES ALSO MENTION “THORNS”.
That’s right! There are three other scriptures where
PEOPLE are spoken of as being "thorns in your sides"
and "thorns in your eyes."
• “Take possession of the land
and settle in it, for I have given you the land to
possess. Distribute the land by lot, according to
your clans. To a larger group give a larger
inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one.
Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs.
Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes.
"'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the
land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in
your eyes and thorns in your sides (flesh). They
will give you trouble in the land where you will
live.” [Numbers 33:53-55]
• "But if you turn away and
ally yourselves with the survivors of these nations
that remain among you and if you intermarry with
them and associate with them, then you may be sure
that the LORD your God will no longer drive out
these nations before you. Instead, they will become
snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and
thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good
land, which the LORD your God has given you.”
• “And ye shall make no league
with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw
down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice:
why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will
not drive them out from before you; but they shall
be as thorns in your sides (flesh), and their gods
shall be a snare unto you.” [Judges 2:2-3]
So we see that if we restrict ourselves to SCRIPTURE
as the means of discovering WHAT Paul’s thorn was
-we can readily see that Paul really asking the Lord
to remove persecution from him, NOT sickness,
-- and the Lord’s reply was that His grace was
sufficient enough for him to ENDURE it and overcome
We are NOT redeemed from persecution.
JESUS HIMSELF TOLD US:
• “Remember the word that I
said unto you, The servant is not greater than his
lord. If they have persecuted me, they will
also persecute you; if they have kept my saying,
they will keep yours also.” [John15:20]
And then Paul ALSO told us:
• "All that will live godly in
Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." [2
And THAT is what he meant in verse 9 & 10 when after
the Lord told him His grace was sufficient” - He
• “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, (and then he LISTS those
infirmities) in reproaches, in necessities, in
persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for
when I am weak, then am I strong.” [2
ABOUT THE WORD :
If we do a study of the Hebrew word translated as
“glory” - we find that there are several different
contexts in which the word is used.
ONE of them is an old English word which means to
have dominion over or command. It is used in Exodus
8:9 where Moses told Pharaoh to glory over him, or
command him, when to destroy the frogs.
• “And Moses said unto
Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I entreat for
thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to
destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that
they may remain in the river only?” [Exodus
If we read the entire context of Paul’s situation we
can see clearly that when he speaks of glorying in
these infirmities or persecutions, he was speaking
of victory even in the midst of continual
In Acts 14:19, Paul was stoned and left for dead
(those that stoned him literally thought he WAS
dead) - but God raised him up, and the next day he
walked at least twenty miles into the next town and
started preaching again. The Lord did not stop the
persecution, but God's strength was certainly made
perfect in Paul's weakness (verse 9).
Can you imagine what those that stoned him must have
thought? They could see Paul's humanity in the cuts
and bruises, but they could
also see the supernatural strength of God flowing
through him. "For when I am weak, then am I strong"
There are two
other passages of Scripture that those who
believe Paul's thorn in the flesh
was sickness have tried to use incorrectly to prove
The first one is Galatians 4:13-15. Here Paul writes
that he preached the Gospel to these Galatians
through an infirmity of the flesh, and in verse 15,
he makes reference to these people being willing to
poke out their own eyes and give them to him.
--------------------- From this, I have heard
ministers preach that Paul's thorn was a rare,
ancient disease which was characterized by runny,
But AGAIN - Let’s READ the scriptures and discover
the CONTEXT in which was speaking when he said this.
Paul was writing to the people who lived in the
region known as Galatia, which had as its major
cities, Derbe, Lystra, and Iconium.
The event where Paul was stoned and left for dead,
happened in Lystra, a city of Galatia.
The next day Paul walked to Derbe - another city of
Galatia, and began preaching unto them.
Paul had just been stoned and left for dead! - - And
I sure that some of those stones he took to the head
- So I'm sure he had runny, puffy eyes, along with
multiple cuts and bruises, ---- but they were not
the result of some disease. They were the result of
having just been stoned.
He also says in verse 13 that his infirmity was "at
the first," which leaves the impression it was only
a temporary thing that he recovered from.
that many try to use to prove that Paul's thorn was
bad eyes is also in Galatians, chapter 6, verse 11.
• "Ye see how large a letter I
have written unto you with mine own hand."
People have said Paul's eyes were so bad that he had
to write in large letters, and this is what he was
making reference to. That is only a supposition and
not a very good one at that.
It is a lot more credible to believe that he was
simply referring to the long letter he had just
written to the Galatians.
The reason it is so important to realize that the
thorn in the flesh was not something which Jesus
died to redeem us from, such as sickness, is so that
we won't submit ourselves to these things in the
false belief that “IT MUST BE GOD’S WILL” - - Or God
is just trying to TEACH US SOMETHING
• James 4:7 says, "Submit
yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and
he will flee from you."
We have to RESIST, or actively FIGHT against, the
devil and the things he brings, to see them flee.
SATAN HAS USED TRADITIONAL TEACHING ABOUT PAUL'S
THORN TO BRING MANY CHRISTIANS TO A PLACE OF
SUBMITTING TO HIM - Instead of God
But, JESUS SAID: “you shall know the truth and the
truth, shall set you free”
I sincerely hope that this lesson on the Apostle
Paul's Thorn in the Flesh has helped you to see the
truth and to receive YOUR healing in Jesus Christ.
Let me assure you that if you are willing to LEARN
what the SCRIPTURES say - And begin to STAND IN
FAITH on God’s promises of healing: YOU will also
begin to experience healing in
your body as
promised in your Covenant of Healing.