“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.”
We are talking about suffering and Christianity.
In part one of our studies we saw from the Scripture that
sin, sickness, poverty and eternal damnation are never used by the Almighty
to perfect His family.
In part two of our study we saw that
Jesus suffered for us in two ways.
He suffered as our sin Substitute
on the Cross, bearing sickness, poverty and eternal damnation for us.
He also suffered as our Example in persecution.
It is His example in
persecution that we are to follow. Jesus learned obedience through
what He suffered in persecution and affliction for the Word’s sake.
We learn obedience through what we suffer in persecution and affliction for
the Word’s sake.
We will be looking into the issue of “Paul’s Thorn” in this
study. A large portion of organized religion would have us to believe
that the Almighty is no longer a healing God. Many have been wrongly
led to believe that if they are sick, it is because the Almighty wants them
to be sick. They are wrongly instructed that He is trying to teach
I have noticed that the vast majority of times when I ask
someone what God is teaching them with their
sickness, they never really know for sure. I remind them that the
Almighty is not the author of confusion. (1Corinthians ) If He were to teach us through
sickness, He should at least have the decency to inform us of what we are
Of course, we saw in part one of our study that the Almighty
teaches with His Word, not with sickness and disease. (2Timothy )
Multitudes have died and are dying this very day believing
the unscriptural lie that their sickness is “a thorn in the flesh to keep
me humble.” They do not seem to know that the Bible says that we are
to humble ourselves, not be humbled by
sickness. (1Peter 5:5-6)
Before we are able to study the passage concerning “Paul’s
thorn,” I must establish three things that will help us to properly
interpret the narrative.
First, Moses taught us that sickness is a satanic
curse, which we bring upon ourselves when we defy the
Almighty. It is a curse of the law and Jesus has redeemed us from the
curse of the law. (Deuteronomy 28; Proverbs 26:2; Jeremiah 2:19; Galatians
Second, when Jesus healed the woman who was bowed over for
eighteen years, He said that Satan bound the woman,
not the Almighty. (Luke 13:11-16)
And third, when Peter was preaching at the home of Cornelius,
he made the point that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit to heal all
who were oppressed by the devil. (Acts ) Moses,
Jesus and Peter are all in agreement that all healing comes from the Almighty and all
oppression comes from Satan.
Not God's Will for People to be Sick
“Thy kingdom come. THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN
HEAVEN.” (Matthew 6:10) This is how Jesus taught His disciples to
There is no sickness in Heaven so it could not possibly be the
will of the Almighty on Earth. (Revelation 21:4) Jesus said that He
came to do only the will of the Almighty. (John 6:37) You will never
once, in all of Scripture, see Jesus make anyone sick. You will never
see Jesus Himself suffering in sickness.
Everywhere Jesus went, He healed and delivered
all who came to Him by faith. You will not find one
example in the New Testament of Jesus ever refusing to heal anyone.
Why is it that those who wrongly believe that the Almighty uses
sickness to teach or to humble are the first ones to run to the doctor to
get the sickness off of them?
If they really believed God was making
them sick to better them, they would ask God to make their entire family
sick, seeing that it is such a wonderful blessing. Of course, these
people have been deceived by religious tradition and do not know what the
Bible says. (Matthew 15:9)
The Bible reveals that it is always God’s will to heal. (Isaiah
53:3-5; Psalm 103:1-3; 105:37; 107:20; Matthew 8:1-3,16,17; James 5:14;
1Peter 2:24; 3John 2, etc.)
If the Almighty had made the Apostle Paul
sick, which He did not, then the Apostle Paul would be the only one in
Scripture that He made sick and He went against His own Word to do so.
(Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 8:16; 2Corinthians 13:1)
Never Glorifies the Almighty
“And great multitudes came unto him, having with them those
that were lame, blind, dumb, maimed, and many others, and cast them down at
Jesus' feet; and he healed them: Insomuch that the multitude
wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame
to walk, and the blind to see: and THEY GLORIFIED THE GOD OF ISRAEL.”
Tradition, false teaching and flat out lies from the devil say
that sickness brings glory to God, but the Bible says otherwise.
Never once does the Bible ever say anything even remotely close to, “And
the Almighty struck her down with sickness and the multitudes glorified Him.”
I find no less than seven times in the Gospels where Jesus
healed the sick and demon possessed and the multitudes burst forth giving
glory to the Almighty. (Matthew 9:18; ; ; Luke ; ; ; ; 24:47)
The Almighty just might get glory out of someone’s life in
spite of their sickness, but He never gets glory out of someone’s life
because of their sickness. He is just not that kind of God. (1John
4:8) He is not the author of
sickness. Sickness is never His will.
If sickness were the will of the Almighty, Jesus defied Him
every time He healed. (John ; ) Sickness never glorified God in the
Bible. Healing always did. Keeping
these Biblical facts in mind, let us answer the following question.
the Apostle Paul Ever Physically Sick?
“Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not
blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of
God, in much patience, in AFFLICTIONS, in necessities, in distresses, In
stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours,
in watchings, in fastings;
By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy
Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the
armour of righteousness on the right hand and on
the left, By honour and dishonour,
by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and
yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not
killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as
poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all
things.” (2Corinthians 6:3-10)
The Greek word for “afflictions” in our above Scripture is “thlipsis”
which means, “persecution and tribulation.”
Some Bible scholars have
wrongly interpreted this word to mean, “Sickness and disease.” A
quick check with a Greek Lexicon reveals that some
scholars need to do their homework.
In this entire list of the many
things that Paul suffered for preaching the Gospel, he never once mentioned
“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more;
in labours more abundant, in stripes above
measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 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. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh
upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)
Here again the Apostle Paul, listing all that he suffered for
the Gospel, never leaves even a hint of physical sickness being brought
into his life by the Almighty.
If Paul were ever going to teach on
how he endured sickness and disease to bring glory to God, it would have
been in these two listings of his sufferings in his second letter to the
I am not saying that physical sickness never came
against the Apostle Paul. It comes against all of us. What I am
saying is that Paul never said that he believed that the Almighty uses
sickness to teach us, to humble us or to bring glorify to Himself.
Because the Apostle Paul never taught
such erroneous doctrine, we should never teach such doctrine or falsely
accuse Paul of doing so.
Apostle Paul Was an Old Testament Scholar
“But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from
before you; then it shall come to pass, that THOSE WHICH YE LET REMAIN OF
THEM SHALL BE PRICKS IN YOUR EYES, AND THORNS IN YOUR SIDES, AND SHALL VEX
YOU in the land wherein ye dwell.” (Numbers 33:55)
The first rule of Bible interpretation is to interpret
Scripture in light of Scripture.
Even Paul was doing this nearly
2,000 years ago. Paul was a Pharisee and amazingly well versed in the
Old Testament, which is where he learned the expression “thorn in the flesh.”
No doubt, as a child, he learned it while studying the Book of
In the Book of Numbers the Almighty said that the Canaanites
would become “thorns in the sides” of the Israelites if they refused to
drive them out of their land.
This did not mean that the Canaanites
would become human projectiles, piercing the sides of the Israelites.
It meant that the Canaanites would be as annoying as a thorn in the side if
they were allowed to hang out with and influence the Hebrews.
in the side” is not used here in the context of sickness and Paul knew this
A “thorn in the side” is symbolic of an annoying
personality. It is a metaphor.
“Know for a certainty that the Lord your God will no more drive
out any of these nations from before you; but THEY SHALL BE SNARES AND
TRAPS UNTO YOU, AND SCOURGES IN YOUR SIDES, AND THORNS IN YOUR EYES, until
ye perish from off this good land which the Lord your God hath given you.”
Here again the Almighty warns Israel that their disobedience would
lead to surrounding nations becoming “thorns in your eyes.” This did
not mean that their enemies would literally turn into thorns and be poked
into their eyes. This was and is to be interpreted
The second rule of Bible interpretation is this.
The Bible is to be interpreted literally unless it is very obviously
figurative. When it is figurative, always look for the literal
“Thorns in your eyes” is spoken figuratively, not
literally. The literal interpretation is that Israel’s enemies would
become as annoying as a thorn in the eye if they were allowed to dwell
What a s-t-r-e-t-c-h for any Bible Teacher to take this verse,
as some have, and use it to “prove” that Paul had an eye disease.
This is a reference to annoying personalities only. Paul knew this
and he himself never used this particular analogy in the context of
“But THE SONS OF BELIAL SHALL BE ALL OF THEM AS THORNS THRUST
AWAY, because they cannot be taken with hands:” (2 Samuel 23:6)
Here we find King David using the same “thorn” analogy when
referring to the sons of Belial. He warned Israel that involvement
with them would be the same as handling thorns with unprotected
Anyone who has attempted to handle thorns with unprotected
hands knows that it is a most annoying, painful and difficult
David was referring to annoying personalities only.
Paul knew this as well as anyone. (See also Ezekiel 28:24; Hosea 2:6.)
The third rule of proper Bible interpretation is this.
You must have two or three verses of Scripture, always in context, to prove
that what you are preaching, teaching or believing is true.
what Jesus taught. (Matthew 18:16)
Paul taught it as well.
So did Moses. (Deuteronomy 17:6)
Not one of
the above Scriptures used in this study, has anything at all to do with
Paul or anyone else being sick. Not one. They are all being taken
out of context when used to “prove” that God teaches or disciplines with
Moses, Paul and Jesus all said, “You really don’t want to
be doing that.”
Apostle Paul Stated Clearly What His Thorn 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.” (2Corinthians 12:7)
The Greek word for “messenger” in this verse is “angelos,”
which means, “angel, messenger.” It is used 188 times in the Bible
and it always refers to a personality, NEVER sickness or disease. It
can refer to a fallen angel or one of the Almighty’s obedient Angels.
clearly that the “messenger” that came to him came from Satan, to buffet
him. Paul stated clearly that this demonic messenger came to keep his
Ministry and revelations from being exalted.
Paul did not say that
his “thorn in the flesh” was physical sickness or disease. He clearly
stated that it was an annoying, demonic personality.
The Greek word for “buffet” in this verse is “kolaphizo,” which means, “to rap with the fist, to
cuff, to box on the ear, to hit, to punch and to strike with blow after
blow as a wave would buffet the bow of a ship in a storm.”
teach that buffeting means that the Almighty uses sickness to correct
faults should read what Peter said.
“For WHAT GLORY IS IT, IF, WHEN YE BE BUFFETED FOR YOUR FAULTS,
ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do
well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with
God.” (1 Peter 2:20)
Peter said that
there is no glory for God in using sickness to correct people’s
So, there goes the false doctrine of “Divine Sickness
Buffeting” right down the drain. The Apostle Paul said himself that
the messenger of Satan buffeted him over and over with persecution, need,
distress, imprisonments, tumults, evil reports, beatings, stoning, robbers,
betrayal, hunger, thirst, cold and nakedness to keep his Ministry and
revelations from being exalted. (2Corinthians 6:3-10; 11:23-28)
Paul never once even remotely suggested that the Almighty used
sickness and disease to teach him or to keep him humble. In seeking
God three times to get this evil messenger away from him, Paul was told,
“My grace is sufficient for thee.”
The Greek word for “grace” is “charis” which
means, “God’s ability in you to do what you alone are not able to
do.” God’s ability in us to do what we are not able to do is Jesus.
(Luke ; Colossians ; James 4:7; 1John )
It is never right
to falsely accuse the Almighty of giving someone a “thorn in the flesh”
when they are sick. Such erroneous, traditional teaching undermines
faith and could easily result in premature death.
Without faith it is absolutely impossible to please
God. (Hebrews 11:6)
Prayer: “Father, forgive me for ever believing that You would use sickness to teach
me. I see now that a ‘thorn in the flesh’ is not a reference to
sickness. I also see that it’s always Your will to heal me as long as
I’m meeting the conditions for healing.
Thank You for healing me, in Jesus’ Name.”