XVIa.2. What Was Paul’s Thorn?

Question:  What exactly was the "thorn in Paul’s flesh? Was it a physical ailment he dealt with all through his life?

Answer:  Here is the record.

 "...there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I 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." (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

We are not told the exact nature of Paul’s illness. Some think that Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was poor eyesight; as he relates that the Galatians would have "...plucked out your own eyes and have given them to me." in Galatians 4:15. In Galatians 6:11 the verse reads "Ye see {with how large letters} I have written unto you with mine own hand." Ordinarily, he dictated his letters.

We know it was a physical illness, for it was "a thorn in the flesh." This is a good example to show that the sign gifts (including healing) had ceased. The above passage was written about 58-60 A.D., and we find that the Apostle Paul could not heal himself. Previously he had temporarily blinded a sorcerer (Acts 13:11), a cripple walk (Acts 14:8-10), cast out a demon (Acts 16:18), performed another healing (Acts 28:8), and special miracles (Acts 19:11,12). There were many who were not healed from about 60 A.D. on to the present. Here are a few: Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25-30), Timothy (1 Timothy 1:2,5:23), Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20). In most cases, God now seems to let events take their natural course.

God has allowed mankind to learn much about science and medicine. He has given doctors for our benefit. God expects us to use the blessings of medical knowledge He has given us. In James 5:14-16 we find the elders anointed with oil (medicine) and prayed. That is what God wants us to do today. Use the medicine and knowledge available, and bathe it with prayer.

God can and does step in, at His will; but, it is not through the phony "faith-healer" procedures that are so prevalent today. When God heals, He heals completely and without charge! It is always right to appeal to the "Great Physician." He is always in!

 "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and THE LORD (if it is His will) shall raise him up..." (James 5:15a)


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