Saturday, January 09, 2010

What is Paul's "Thorn in the Flesh"?

There’s been much speculation over the centuries about Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” described in 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.

I think it’s mostly likely that Paul had problems with his eyesight, perhaps caused by or made worse by an illness. Here’s why:

  • He wrote to the Galatians saying, “You would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.” (Galatians 4:13-15)
  • He didn’t seem to recognize that Ananias is the high priest -- which would have been obvious from his attire. (Acts 23:1-5) Paul is probably some distance across the room.
  • He closes the letter to Galatians with “See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!” (Galatians 6:11) and often used someone else to record his letters. A person with poor eyesight usually writes in larger letters, and for anything serious prefers someone else writes it so it is legible.
  • He picks up firewood and doesn’t see the snake in it Malta until it bites him. (Acts 28:13)

Poor eyesight would have been a serious handicap for someone who traveled and taught as extensively as Paul. I’m sure Paul felt it limited his ability to minister to people.

For those who say that getting healed requires the right level of faith, I ask this: “Did Paul lack sufficient faith in the power of Jesus Christ? How many people had God healed through Paul?”

And how does God respond to his three prayers for relief? “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

What are your weaknesses that God uses?

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