02 May 2006

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

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.

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.

I've always heard "everyone's got their 'thorn in the flesh,'" but wondered what Paul really meant by this term. Was it like one of those little thorns from a rose bush? No, the Greek word used for "thorn" in this passage literally means "a pointed piece of wood, a pale, a stake." Ouch. That gives rise to more vivid imagery than a little thorn from a rose bush. Whatever Paul was struggling with must have been excruciatingly painful -- not necessarily a physical ailment (though it may have been), but perhaps a sin in his life that he grappled with.

"For this I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me."

In the Bible, there is a particular significance to saying something three times in succession. I remember hearing this taught a while back and cannot remember the full significance. Does anyone have speculations about this? Thoughts? Ideas?

10 Comments:

At 03 May, 2006 06:29, Blogger Revelation 2:17 said...

congrats on the new look. cozy.
The other one was nice too, but this is easier to read.
And thank you for the comforting words.

I can't help there with the question. Actually I can only offer my own questioning. What does Paul mean by
"I besought the Lord thrice"
Is it it as "simple" as the face-value meaning of having prayed three times about it?

 
At 03 May, 2006 08:56, Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Biblical scholars often argue about what it might have been.

Some think it was physical, others say it was demonic. Some think it was psychological.

Those Charismatics who say that God will heal all illness are keen to argue that it was demonic and not physical.

Every Blessing in Christ

Matthew

 
At 03 May, 2006 09:09, Blogger Redeemed said...

I sincerely don't believe it was demonic.

I think it was more physical, maybe some kind of illness. But I've often wondered about that too.

 
At 03 May, 2006 15:12, Blogger Carey said...

I seriously doubt it was demonic. Illness or some other struggle was my guess.

"I besought the Lord thrice."

No clue. I was hoping you might have the answer, George.

 
At 03 May, 2006 16:17, Blogger Redeemed said...

I'm struck with that too
- "I besought the Lord thrice."???

As for the thorne in the flesh, I do believe it was some sort of illness...or maybe he was hurt as he was persecuted for his belief. Look here, Paul speaking:

Gal 6:17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

This is a bit mysterious.

 
At 04 May, 2006 06:54, Blogger Carey said...

Hmm... is there a Bible scholar in the house?

 
At 04 May, 2006 08:25, Blogger The IBEX Scribe said...

I just wrote the most fantastic comment ever but I got an error when I tried to post it, so I'll try again. *sigh*

Bible scholars may be wise and have great knowledge, but they do not have answers to all questions!

I have to consider the demonic option highly unlikely.

I have heard speculation that perhaps the thorn in the flesh was somehow related to Paul's writing. Several epistles make explicit statements that Paul wrote the greeting at the end himself (2 Thess, Colossians, 1 Cor; Romans was apparently penned by Tertius and Sosthenes and Timothy are mentioned as "co-authors" in others). Galatians 6:11 says, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand." It would seem that something made handwriting a challenge for Paul, whether it was poor vision or something that affected his motor skills. Could this be the answer? Who knows. We (in the most royal sense) could continue with the speculation and say that perhaps his eyesight was never what it once was after his little incident on the road to Damascus. When he regained his sight was it restored to what it had been formerly? Perhaps it was not restored completely as a reminder that he walked in darkness until he saw a great light. This is, of course, pure speculation.

I have heard that it was said that something is said twice to emphasize it and that to say it thrice is to make it something of a superlative. For example, the seraphim in Isaiah 6 say, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts." "Holy is the LORD of hosts." True. "Holy, holy is the LORD of hosts." Wow, He's really holy! "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts." You cannot get any holier than that! Perhaps what Paul is communicating is that he has asked as earnestly as he could possibly ask.

That's my two cents. :)

 
At 04 May, 2006 10:17, Blogger Carey said...

I like your speculations, Angie. Very intriguing (sp?). [Wish the comment things had spell check.]

 
At 04 May, 2006 11:00, Blogger Revelation 2:17 said...

One of Scofield's great insights:


"It has been conjectured that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was chronic ophthalmia, inducing bodily weakness, and a repulsive appearance (Gal_4:15); (1Co_2:3); (1Co_2:4); (2Co_10:10). This cannot be positively known, and the reserve of Scripture is as sure a mark of inspiration as its revelations. Paul's particular "thorn" is not described that his consolations may avail for all to who any thorn is given."

 
At 04 May, 2006 15:35, Blogger Redeemed said...

It could have also been his eyesight. We know that he was blinded afer encourating the Lord, and though his eyesight was restored, it may not have been fully restored. !?

 

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