HomeOpinion & AnalysisWhat was the thorn in Paul’s flesh?

What was the thorn in Paul’s flesh?

Today we continue with our series on divine healing. A lot of theories around the subject often fly around even in Christian circles.

divineinsight BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

Many such theories, however, are not inspired by the word of God. These are based merely on human opinion or a matter of scientific or new age conjecture.

One scripture that has been used to justify sickness among believers is the one that makes reference to the thorn in Paul’s flesh—that thorn which God would not take away. Many Christians remain in bondage of sickness, with no hope for healing, because they have been made to believe that the sickness is the thorn in their flesh which God, just like in Paul’s case, will not take away.
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In 2 Corinthians 12:7-9, Paul says, “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. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The question, however, is: was Paul talking about a sickness? And God never healed him of that sickness? I think not.

This has given rise to a teachings in the church to the effect that some Christians will never get healed because God will be using the sickness to keep them, especially after giving them too much revelation from the Word.

For us to better understand what Paul was talking about here, it is advisable to use the rules of biblical interpretation – the law of first mention and contextual meaning. Joshua 23:13, “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.”

A thorn in your eyes is a thorn in the flesh. Here, Joshua was referring to people, not diseases or infirmities. These were the heathens that the Israelites had to deal with as they entered into their promised land of Canaan.

In the book of Judges, after the children of Israel had disobeyed the Lord, He pronounced a curse over them. The children of Israel had not obeyed the Lord’s command to throw down the altars of the foreign gods in the hand. The curse was going to come in the form of people, the inhabitants of the land in which they dwelt – not in the form of sickness. Judges 2:3, “Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.”

Now, when you move to the New Testament, specifically where Paul was talking about the thorn in the flesh, you will discover that these thorns were “messengers” – meaning that they were people. He says these were messengers from Satan sent to vex him. Messengers are people. Paul was talking about the paper writing persecution he was facing from people fighting his ministry. These were people who were fighting his ministry.

So, while it is scriptural that you face persecution in ministry or as you serve God, because the devil will send his messengers to vex you, sickness is never God’s will for your life. There is no point in trying to use the scriptures to justify sickness, whose price Jesus paid for on the cross.

Phillip Chidavaenzi is the author of The Gospel of Grace-From the Old to the New Testament (2016) and Walking in the Spirit (2017). He can be contacted on pchidavaenzi@newsday.co.zw

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