Archive for the ‘Apostle Paul’ Category

I was sure that when I began the research for this that I would conclude that Paul had an eye malady as many bible scholars seems to think…but after looking at several passages and after researching several different sites and praying, I don’t think that is what it was. Let’s start attempting to unravel this question by visiting the passage where the term ‘thorn in the flesh’ came from.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (NASB)

At first I just read this and then I decided to look at the verse seven a little closer. I examined it with the interlinear tool at Blue Letter Bible and this passage indicates that the thorn in his flesh was an angel of Satan…I’m not making it up, that’s what it says. OK, what does it mean? The word messenger seems to always refer to a human being or angel or Christ. By contrast, thorns are seen continually in scripture, as a sign of those who are against Israel, or of Satan. I think it means what it says, that his thorn in the flesh was an angel of Satan.

Could Paul have been suffering from demon possession with The Lord’s permission? At first I thought, yes he could have. If we read 1 Samuel 16:14 we learn that The Lord became fed up with Saul and sent an evil spirit to trouble him. The Lord allows evil spirits to possess people but, after asking the Holy Spirit for guidance on this, praying about it and sleeping on it, I feel demon possession is highly unlikely. However, in a Job-like manner, God could have allowed an angel of Satan to torment, or maltreat Paul and to cause physical problems that manifested themselves outwardly. Could the angel of Satan have been anything else? Yes, instead of ‘agents’ of Satan causing a thorn in the flesh, it could have been ‘agents’ of Satan attempting to thwart Paul’s efforts at spreading the word, by trying to throw roadblocks in his way because as Paul became more effective at bringing God’s message to the people and his reputation became better known, he increasingly was becoming more and more of an extreme irritant to Satan and his design to thwart The Lord’s plan. Paul himself said he survived, beatings and stonings and imprisonment and three shipwrecks in his journeys spreading the word and even so, Paul became one of The Lords most effective tool at spreading the word to the Jews and the Gentiles that the early church had ever known and I’m sure Satan would have crushed Paul like a bug if God had allowed him to.

Now let’s look at another view, from the letter to the Galatians.

Galatians 4:13-15 You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.  And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, [even] as Christ Jesus. What then was the blessing you [enjoyed]? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. (NKJV)

OK, here, it seems he was suffering from a physical malady that was evident to those he was preaching to in Galatia, as we find out from this letter he wrote at a later date after they started slipping back to the old ways of Judaism. Dr. Chuck Missler seems to think it was eye problems that were a carry-over from the blindness Christ caused him to have (which is a type of the blindness He pronounced upon Israel that also is a temporary thing). That is a logical assumption except for one issue; if we look back at 2 Corinthians 12:7 it says it was a messenger from Satan sent to torment him. The blindness came from God, not ‘a messenger of Satan, and the two causalities don’t mingle, so I don’t believe Paul would have confused eye problems relating to the blindness caused by Our Lord as having come from Satan.

At this point, I believe God was allowing Satan, in a Job-like manner, to harass Paul in ways that manifested itself by causing outward signs of some aberrant physical condition to a limited extent, and to also, at the same time, throw roadblocks in his way in the manner of delays, shipwrecks, beatings, stonings and imprisonment because of The Lord’s faith in His servant. Paul besought The Lord to remove this burden from him three times, just as Christ was beseeching His Father three time to rid Him of His burden in the Garden. The Lord chose not to heal this ‘thorn’ in Paul’s side, possibly for the reason so that Paul would take the burden and use it as a tool to aid him in his ministries, which he did.

How is this principle of Paul’s thorn in his flesh applicable to me today? Paul was a sinner, but he was a very effective sinner that turned trouble into triumph and used the thorn in his flesh to his advantage to show he was still a sinner saved by grace, as we all would be, tempted to be exalted. That is a lesson that I need to work on because I sometimes try to take charge and, as usual, wreck the train, and allow troubles and temptation to be the excuse that they are designed to be, therefore giving my arch foe, Satan an advantage. Oh, you weak, weak man, Jim.

Dear Father, I need your strength, for I have none. I need your light for I exist in darkness, I need your hand to guide me out of the abyss I plunge myself into. Oh, Father save me from myself for I’m a worm on the ground, once again waiting for the carrion of Satan to snatch me up without you. Dear, blessed Father, thank you for the grace and mercy I never have and I never will deserve and I still don’t understand why you rescued me, Lord. Show me how to be like Paul, triumphing in life, while spreading your word, Father. In Christ name, Amen.

God Bless, Jim