After my Sermon last week in which I dealt with the “THE COST OF TRADITION,” I was asked the question, “What about the Apostle Paul, doesn’t scripture teach that he had a ‘Thorn in his flesh’ that he could not be cured of?” The answer to this question is found in the Bible, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Paul said, “7… 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 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. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” KJV In verse 11 he lists the persecutions he faced…”imprisonment, stoning, beatings, shipwrecked and attacks by angry mobs.” Sickness is not mentioned.
Paul identifies his “Thorn in the Flesh” as a messenger of Satan whose assignment was to buffet him. The Greek word for “messenger” is used 188 times in the New Testament and seven times it is translated “messenger” however 181 times it is translated “angel.” The word “buffet” means to strike over and over. The thorn in Paul’s flesh was not sickness as tradition teaches, but rather a messenger from Satan whose assignment was to persecute Paul as the Bible teaches.
The terms “thorn in the flesh” or “thorn in the side” are always used as illustrations. For example, the Lord told Moses that if the Israelites did not drive out the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, they would become “pricks in (their) eyes, and thorns in (their) sides.” (Numbers 33:55).
Paul described his infirmity in 2 Cor. 12:10 saying, “10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
Tradition forgets to mention that Satan’s angel could gain no victory over Paul through adverse circumstances. Paul lived to be an old man, he was a victorious Christian, he wrote most of the New Testament, and he traveled throughout the known world preaching and teaching the Word of God. Satan’s angel could never stop the Word of God from going forth… The final word on God’s will to heal is found in 3 John verse 2…”Beloved, I would above all things that you be in health and prosper.”