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Online micah7:9

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Pauls thorn or splinter
« on: May 06, 2010, 08:06:05 PM »
I am given to believe that Pauls thorn in the flesh came from a continuious rush of pelting words tossed at him by that messenger of the adversary telling him to take credit for the greatness and depth of the revelations he recieved from the Holy Spirit. Paul being as human, as those he was given to minister to and teach, without the strength of the Holy Spirit, Paul could have, no would have, succumbed to that treachery and begin to take credit for his words and teaching. But because of his faith in that "bright light" on the Damascus road, even though Pauls physical body was weak from fighting the temptations, he took it to the Lord in prayer and his answer ... 2Co 12:9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Paul new that his spiritual body, that new creature, where the indwelling of the mind of Christ grew, was empowered... Paul stayed with the nucleus of his power... Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
These are my thoughts, I have read the work by L.Ray Smith and I agree with his understanding, I do not believe that what I understand interferes with his paper.
Peace and Love Through Jesus

Mic 7:8  Thou dost not rejoice over me, O mine enemy, When I have fallen, I have risen, When I sit in darkness Jehovah is a light to me.

Offline willieH

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2010, 08:43:48 PM »
willieH: Hi micah7:9...  :cloud9:

I am given to believe that Pauls thorn in the flesh came from a continuious rush of pelting words tossed at him by that messenger of the adversary telling him to take credit for the greatness and depth of the revelations he recieved from the Holy Spirit. Paul being as human, as those he was given to minister to and teach, without the strength of the Holy Spirit, Paul could have, no would have, succumbed to that treachery and begin to take credit for his words and teaching. But because of his faith in that "bright light" on the Damascus road, even though Pauls physical body was weak from fighting the temptations, he took it to the Lord in prayer and his answer ... 2Co 12:9 And he hath said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Paul new that his spiritual body, that new creature, where the indwelling of the mind of Christ grew, was empowered... Paul stayed with the nucleus of his power... Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
These are my thoughts, I have read the work by L.Ray Smith and I agree with his understanding, I do not believe that what I understand interferes with his paper.
Peace and Love Through Jesus

I too have often wondered what this "thorn" was... Paul's personal testimony in Romans 7 could've been a battle with a particular aspect of the flesh...  Maybe your vision above is correct (which is entirely possible), or maybe he drank an extra glass of wine at dinner or such... Who knows? 

In any event, it was a battle with some kind of SIN... for the conclusion of the testimony in Romans 7 notes a continuing service to it, in some way...

I also have noted in the Apostle John's First Letter, that he is pretty insistent to his students that they ADMIT themselves as sinners and in order for the TRUTH to truly be fully "within" no matter what their "outward" zeal and participations might be, ...is based upon this admission and confession...  which then follows up with the notation that "if any man sin, WE have an advocate with the Father, JESUS CHRIST the righteous"

So John knew (as did Paul) that the battle in the flesh does not end with believing and the outward evidence of a DIVINE presence within...  It is when we maintain by confessing this HONESTY, that the TRUTH can fully live within us... for without the HONESTY that we ARE sinners... a LIE (thorn) exists WITHIN us, no matter how much we OUTWARDLY acknowledge the TRUTH!  :nod:

...willieH  :icon_king:

Online micah7:9

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2010, 08:53:10 PM »
I like that as well. We are certainly becoming a peculiar people.
Mic 7:8  Thou dost not rejoice over me, O mine enemy, When I have fallen, I have risen, When I sit in darkness Jehovah is a light to me.

Paul Hazelwood

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2010, 09:51:52 PM »

I am not exactly sure of any solid conclusions concerning this verse, but since Paul is specifying what the Thorn is I do not believe the verse below is referring to a physical ailment or sin.




Quote
2C 12:7 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.

2C 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.



Offline Cardinal

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2010, 10:01:31 PM »
 :cloud9: My  :2c: I think the thorn he was speaking of is the carnal mind, which was not due to be totally removed/submitted in the age that Paul lived, as it is reserved for the end.

Paul saw the end thru the revelations given him, but the carnal mind wanted to receive the end apart from the timing of things of the Lord.

No man can add to the measure of Christ within him, as only the Spirit can add more of the Spirit to us in understanding and wisdom, which is what forms the Christ in us as we walk in the light we are given. The carnal mind would have exalted him above the measure allotted to him for his time.

I think Paul had to come to the realization that he was born a man out of season, ie. able to see the end but not partake of it while he walked the earth in the flesh. This is the why the Lord said His grace was sufficient for him. Blessings....
"I would rather train twenty men to pray, than a thousand to preach; A minister's highest mission ought to be to teach his people to pray." -H. MacGregor

Offline Nathan

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2010, 10:48:42 PM »
I went through this same issue as well.  There are valid points from all sides really.  There are other passages that refer to a physical ailment, there are other passage that refer to people who actually took it upon themselves to follow him around and refute his message at every opportunity.  And there is the inward understanding that it's a carnal issue.  Three dimensions in a story . . .seems to sound familiar there.

The core of the message is not about what the thorn was, which I'm sure you guys weren't trying to say that it was.  But when I looked at the latter option.  Seeing that it was an inward thorn, perhaps a weakness in Paul that he so badly wanted to overcome but could not, that one seemed to come in line with the patterns of the nature of God in that we all have areas in our lives where God seems to purposefully leave us with the affliction no matter how much we pray for it's removal.  Why? 

Because he put it there to keep us from walking too much in our "self" that we walk out of humility and into pride.  Sin then becomes an antidote.  It's like those who have to go through chemo when they have cancer.  Or those who have to get a shot to prevent measles or mumps.  What the doc is actually giving you is a tiny dose of the very thing you're trying to keep from getting.  Why?  Because the tiny dose triggers the God-given immune system in me to absorb the small dose so that when my body becomes exposed to the actual disease, it's not affected.  The small dose actually makes me stronger to stand against the full onslaught. 

When I came to this tid bit, it helped me let go of my laboring attempts at being perfect, and it also let go of the inner accusations of how inept I am at walking in perfection.  It actually brought freedom into my life.  It caused me to see the things my mind viewed as terribly ungodly weren't so terrible at all.  I still have the desire to not become bound by it, but I no longer walk in defeat if I do fall off the wagon so to speak.

Offline Beloved Servant

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2010, 11:30:09 PM »

The third temptation of Christ.

Offline willieH

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2010, 11:43:48 PM »
willieH: Hi brother N... :hithere:

When I came to this tid bit, it helped me let go of my laboring attempts at being perfect, and it also let go of the inner accusations of how inept I am at walking in perfection.  It actually brought freedom into my life.  It caused me to see the things my mind viewed as terribly ungodly weren't so terrible at all.  I still have the desire to not become bound by it, but I no longer walk in defeat if I do fall off the wagon so to speak.

I like this comment... It is the "just as I am" type of acceptance that GOD LOVES us as the creatures that HE MAKES...  being,

(1) DISHONORABLE in this fleshly [natural which is FIRST in DIVINE order] vessel --  and while in that SAME [shapeable] LUMP another vessel is being shaped a SPIRITUAL [spiritual which is SECOND in DIVINE order] vessel which is:

(2) HONORABLE, and knowing confidently within the heart,  the FREEDOM that HE is indeed IN CONTROL, during the shaping, and is the "SHAPER" [maker]... of BOTH --->

Rom 9:21 -- hath NOT, the POTTER power over the CLAY, of the SAME LUMP, to MAKE [the POTTER IS MAKING] one vessel UNTO HONOR and [the POTTER IS MAKING] another unto DISHONOR?

:Peace:

...willieH  :cloud9:

Offline Pierac

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2010, 02:10:10 AM »
Many of the theologians of our day have made the assumption that the thorn in the flesh that Paul testified of in 2nd Corinthians, was likely some physical ailment. But what was Paul's thorn in the flesh? The theories are that it was probably stammering speech, arthritis, bad eye sight or some other physical illness or malignity. Many others believe that we can't really know from the scriptures what the thorn in the flesh was. One would wonder if biblical hermeneutics has digressed so far that "comparing scripture with scripture" is now not even considered an option? Even the use of the common concordance would reveal much of the truth here. One of the first principles of sound biblical hermeneutics is that the scripture is it's own interpreter. i.e., the Bible is not subject to personal opinion or private interpretation. And therefore, before we can assign a meaning to any passage, we must search both the context of the passage in question, as well as the whole Bible, to see how the word is used throughout scripture. We are careful in this system of study to note if there are any other related verses or references.  In this way, we have God, via His infallible harmonic word, interpret His word. We cannot arbitrarily assume anything in discerning difficult passages. In the case of discerning what was Paul's thorn in the flesh, simply looking up the word thorn throughout scripture and examining how "God" uses it, what it represents, and the context in which the word is found, I believe would reveal what this thorn represented. For the scriptures (both the Old and the New Testament), are replete with examples. The "thorn" in scripture is a common word that is frequently used figuratively. And Paul was very familiar with the Old Testament scriptures, so I believe that he surely used this term in the same way that it is used throughout scripture. Indeed, God is the true author of these scriptures, and so we would "expect" there to be harmony and consistency in the use of the word in similar situations.

For example:
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".

God is not using this language of a scourge (piercing or pricks) in their sides and thorns in their eyes to denote some bodily disorder as we might assume today. Rather, God is using these terms to signify the people of these other nations will be entanglements for the Lord's people to vex them or cause spiritual affliction. They are typed as "scourges or thorns" to signify they will trouble them and cause them not to see clearly. In other words, they will be their nemesis to frustrate them in their serving the Lord. Likewise, in the book of Numbers, God uses this same type language, but switches the use of the thorn to the side, and the scourges to the eyes.

Numbers 33:55

•   "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."
 
The thorns in their sides is the same as the thorn in the flesh that vexed the Apostle Paul. It is not illustrating these people literally would have thorns in their sides anymore than Paul would have them in his flesh. It was illustrating these are people, whom God declares if they are left among the Children of God, would be thorns to vex or trouble them. the thorns are not physical ailments, but rather spiritual ailments. This is what the thorn in the side signifies in God's word. Paul, being a man of knowledge of scripture, would be very familiar with these terms and God's use of them. He is indeed inspired by God to use this term to signify people who trouble the children of God. These were the Judaizers, enemies of God, who were the thorn in the flesh of the Apostle Paul in his day. they vexed him because they hated that he was teaching against their doctrines, the doctrines of Christ. The thorn is illustrative of the people who detest and frustrate (to a certain degree) and cause spiritual problems for the Children of God.

Another example:
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".  

These were the unsaved ungodly people who fight against the law of God and are a snare unto the Lord's people. They would be as a trap and a trouble to God's Covenant people. In fact, we use very similar language to describe those who vex us today. For example, have you ever heard anyone say a person was, "a burr in his saddle?" Or have you ever heard someone say that a person was, "a pain in the neck?" These colloquial phrases convey the exact same meanings as Paul's thorn in the flesh. They don't mean we have some physical sickness, and they don't convey that we have literal pains in our necks or even have a saddle. Likewise, Paul isn't talking about a literal thorn sticking out of his flesh, rather he was using a common expression of those days, just as they are used in our day.

It is a common practice of some Christians to assume that the thorn in the flesh was disease or an ailment that Satan gave him. But what Satan gave him was not physical disease, but people to vex him in his ministry. There is obviously symbolism involved here (since no one to my knowledge considers this a literal thorn), and sound hermeneutics dictates that when symbolism is involved, we have to let God's word itself interpret the symbolism. We cannot privately interpret it, make assumptions, or guess at what the symbolism might mean. We compare scripture with scripture to discern God's truth.

Ezekiel 2:6
•   "And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among SCORPIONS: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house".

The briers, thorns and scorpions are all "symbolic" of the people of Satan which come against the Lord's Children to vex them. These are the adversaries of God's servants who come to revile, persecute and trouble them. And this symbolism holds true consistently in the New Testament scriptures as well as the Old. And why not, since it is all God's wholly divinely inspired consistent word. We can see this as Jesus talks about those who call themselves of God, yet are revealed by their fruits to be false messengers. In other words, by their fruits ye shall know them.
 
Luke 6:44
•   "For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes".
Figs and grapes symbolic of the works of the children of God, while thorns and bramble are symbolic of the works of the children of Satan. And so we see that consistently throughout scripture, the symbolism of what the thorns represent is clear. Here they are false teachers who are the enemies of God's people and come bearing no fruit. Their defining characteristic is that they are thorns and bramble (brier) bushes, not a tree from which to get the fruit of figs or grapes. Here we see the same consistent "signification" and contrasts of thorns and scourges (pricks, bramble) as those contrasted with the Lord's people. Christ says they were those of Satan bearing no fruit, not messengers of God. Likewise, these thorns which were sent to buffet Paul were not of God, but messengers of Satan. Again, in the book of Hebrews, God speaks of those fallen away from Him..

Hebrews 6:8-9
•"But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
•   But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany Salvation, though we thus speak".

Here again we see the contrast between the messengers of God, and the messengers of Satan. One planting signified as thorns and briers (thorn bush), and the other planting, God says brings forth better things that accompany Salvation. The clear illustration of thorns as the fruit of the wicked who are under God's judgment. And it's very important to note that though many noted theologians may claim that the thorn could represent an illness, not once does the Holy Canon use this term "thorn" to represent any physical illness or sicknesses. And in Biblical hermeneutics where scriptural validation or biblically based interpretation is paramount, that is most certainly not an insignificant fact. So what was Paul's thorn in the flesh? It would seem to be the unsaved people, the messengers of Satan, who constantly impeded, harassed and persecuted him.

II. Other Defining Characteristics of Paul's Thorn

We have seen consistently what the symbolic thorn represents throughout scripture, now we can take what we've learned and see if it will fit consistently with both the content and context of 2nd Corinthians chapter 12. The first thing that we notice is that God further defines the thorn in the flesh as,  "The Messenger of Satan!" This is totally consistent with what we have learned. The example in Ezekiel 2 of the false messengers of Satan among the Children of Israel that God calls thorns and scorpions is the same signification that we have here. God's scriptural symbolism of thorns is totally consistent with messengers of Satan, and totally contradictory to it being understood as an illness. For literal diseases and sicknesses are not  [aggelos], or Messengers of Satan come to buffet us. Nowhere in scripture is the term Messenger of Satan ever used to describe an illness upon us. That is also not an insignificant fact! But we all know that evil men (and particularly false teachers), are indeed messengers of Satan. Indeed, scripture informs us that Satan Himself comes appearing as a messenger of light. The fact that we have no Biblical warrant or justification for calling the sickness or physical disability of a believer "a Messenger of Satan," should rule out any legitimate basis for making this claim. Unless for some extraneous reason we are simply predisposed to believe that, even though thorns in the bible never signify physical sickness or disability.
Moreover, Satan has no more power within the body of the true believer that he could cause our eyes to go bad, our bones to creek or that we would suddenly not speak well. Satan can send evil men (messengers of his) against us, but we are a Temple of the living God, and the Lord abides within us. Satan cannot live there with Christ, nor can he put diseases or illness in our body. The fact is, God Himself takes full responsibility for any disabilities, short comings or sicknesses that we might get. Not a sparrow falls to the earth without His say so.

Exodus 4:10-11
•   "And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

•   And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or  who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the LORD?"

Color=blue]God makes the blind, deaf, Dumb. He gives one to have sight, and another to have no sight. This is not the work of the devil.[/color]  Satan had no power to put any disease or illness in Paul. God uses disease as a picture of sin, and His healing it as a picture of Him healing our sinful condition. Satan had no such power over Paul. How theologians can believe that Satan could send messengers to buffet Paul with a physical illness is not clear. Because the only way Satan buffets believers is by indwelling others, and then using them to persecute, revile, or kill us (which goes along perfectly with the thorn being unsaved men). The real question is, why would bad eyesight, stammering speech, or any other physical disorder, be called a messenger of Satan. There is no precedent or warrant for coming to such a conclusion. So again, what was paul's thorn in the flesh? Well, what was vexing Paul was these Judaizers, who indeed were by biblical definition, messengers of Satan at enmity with Christ. They followed the Apostle Paul from town to town as the continual pricking of thorns in the flesh, vexing, persecuting and reviling him. These are the thorns in the flesh that petitioned God to have taken away. But God told him no, His Grace was enough. ..which brings us to God's purpose in allowing these thorns to remain….

(Taken from the studies of  Tony Warren)

To be continued!
Paul


« Last Edit: May 07, 2010, 02:38:02 AM by Pierac »

Offline Pierac

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2010, 02:25:36 AM »
Part two...

III. What was the Purpose of the Thorn?

We have to carefully consider the characteristics of this thorn in order to rightly divide if it is some ailment or not. First, it is a thorn that all realize is not literal, therefore it's symbolism must be prescribed by what is in scripture. And throughout scripture it is defined as men who trouble God's people. The second characteristic is that it is defined as the Messenger of Satan. And we know that those who troubled Paul were messengers of Satan. And the third characteristic is that the messenger was sent to buffet Paul. Is there any biblical instances where God says illness buffets [kolaphizo] anyone? No, this Greek word means to strike someone. So this is not illness, this is people who hated Paul and his teachings, and did everything in their power, including beating him, to stop him. The same Judaizers that persecuted and buffeted Christ.

Matthew 26:67
•   "Then did they spit in his face, and BUFFETED him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands"
The very same Greek word [kolaphizo], as the struck or beat him with their hands.

1st Corinthians 4:10-11
•   "We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
•   Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are BUFFETED, and have no certain dwelling place;"

Again, this very same Greek word [kolaphizo], as they were struck or beaten by those who hated the Christian religion. As Christ was, Paul was likewise despised and buffeted by the messenger of Satan. To him, they were thorns in his flesh who constantly vexed, reviled and persecuted him. These cast him into prison, and they beat him, and followed him from city to city. They made Paul's life preaching the gospel very difficult.

2nd Corinthians 11:25
•   "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;"
And in these beatings, vexing and persecution by these thorns in the flesh, we can ultimately see why God did not remove it (just as He wouldn't for many of the martyrs). For tribulation is normal for the Christian, and in it, His Grace is sufficient, or enough for us. In this persecution, Paul (as are all of us), is kept from exalting himself or becoming prideful. We know that Paul was one of the most faithful men of the early Church, he was still a sinner Saved by grace. And as we all would be, tempted to be exalted. And that is the reason God allows us to have trials and tribulations. Think that God couldn't very easily remove them all?

2nd Corinthians 12:7
•   "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".

Yes, these thorns in Paul's flesh, these pains in the side, these burrs in his saddle keep Paul (and the rest of us) humble and dependent upon God! God said (more than once) we "ALL" will have tribulation in this world. And that included Paul. Though He had seen Glorious things (2 Co 12:7) and received many revelations (Acts 9:3-6, 16:8-10, 18:9-11, 22:17-21, 23:11, 27:22-25, 2 Cor. 12:1-6) and was used mightily of God, yet God says this thorn in the flesh would not be taken away. God said that His Grace (His unmerited favor upon Paul) was enough for him!

Consider also the full context. Paul is talking about His being blessed to Know Glorious things, which He heard of a man whether in or out of the body, he could not say. He's talking about the Glory of God's Revelation and how he won't glory in himself knowing all these things. He will glory only that He can suffer for Christ! He wants no man to think of Him as something special! That's the humbleness of true Christianity, as opposed to pomp, traditions and pious ceremony. It has nothing to do with him asking for a healing physically, it has to do with the trouble and tribulation from wicked men, which believers will have in this world. we would like to go through life without these persecutors and revilers and messengers of Satan who trouble us. But now it is needful for us, His Grace is sufficient.

John 16:33
•   "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world".
We are in Christ who has overcome the World, therefore we can be of good cheer in the midst of trial and tribulations. In the midst of a crooked and perverse world when the messenger of Satan comes against us, we can prevail. In other words, in the world we don't have peace. We are troubled and reviled. Our Peace is with God, which will without question put us at enmity with the world. And indeed with the messengers of Satan. This is the position in which Paul found himself, and yet God would not extract him from it. Because it may have been a cause of exaltation to do so. Lest Paul should exalt himself, God allows this, and declares His Grace was enough!


IV. Paul's Reaction to this Thorn

Again, being human in the flesh just like the rest of us, Paul wanted to have this thorn, this messenger of Satan removed. He wanted to preach the gospel without the constant trouble or vexing of those who hate him. ...sound familiar?

2nd Corinthians 12:8
•   "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me".

I find it difficult to believe that a man as strong and as faithful as Paul, would be so distraught as to plead with the Lord three times to have mere stammering speech, poor eyesight or a physical ailment removed from him. It seems even on the face of it, and in contrast to all that we can read about Paul, quite odd. The fact is, there is nothing whatsoever in scripture that clearly supports the theory that Paul had some lingering illness which is described as a thorn in the flesh. There is clear evidence of the persecution and troubling by the messenger of Satan who buffeted him. Letting the Bible be it's own guide, comparing scripture with scripture, it is consistently seen that the messengers of Satan did these things. And the why, and his reaction to this, is clearly detailed in scripture.

2nd Corinthians 12:9-10
•   "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."
In this affliction by Satan's servile subordinates he learned to surrender his own will to the will of God. The Greek word [astheneia] that is translated infirmities there means weakness. It is the exact same word that is translated in the previous verse weakness, when Paul says God said unto Him, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." It is easy to see how someone might mistake this as declaring Paul had some physical disability, especially because the word is sometimes translated "disease or sickness" because these are instances of physical weaknesses. But when Paul acknowledges that he glories in his weaknesses, he is declaring that he is very willing to be humbled and brought low by these circumstances that God allows. Because in Paul's affliction he learned to surrender his own will to the will of God. He would acquiesce and take this buffeting or beatings by the messenger of Satan. And he would take it patiently, because it forces him to acknowledge divine providence and the God glorifying sphere in which he operates in, is of the Lord and not his own. The very same principle put forth in 1st Peter:

1st Peter 2:20
•   "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."

Again, Paul speaks there of the buffeting or beatings that Christians suffer, and how they are unto glory when it is unjustly applied and they take it patiently. The Apostle Paul prayed three times asking God that the messenger of Satan that buffeted him might be removed, and God's answer came back, "My Grace is enough for you". The number three in scripture signifies God's purpose and will. This is not unlike when the Savior in Gethsemane prayed three times, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done -Luke 22:42." It's a demonstration of surrendering our will to the will of God! There is a basic and practical lesson here, related to Humility. It is a trait which is evident in the Children of God, and absent from the children of men. God knows that strength is made perfect in our weakness. Outside influences help to keep us humble. For it is in these times of weakness and hardship that the Lord's strength in us can be experienced most. It's in these times that we really come to recognize our infirmities (weaknesses), and to depend upon the Lord, rather than our own strength or wisdom!
Paul says He would "gladly glory in his infirmities (-2nd Cor. 12:9)". Yes, rather than bemoan his troubling circumstances, he will glory in them, for in them he has the opportunity to experience the power of Christ. He says "I take pleasure in infirmities, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (-2nd Cor. 12:10)".

Romans 8:26
•   "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities:  for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
This isn't talking about our physical sickness, but about our spiritual weaknesses. We should understand that the Greek word infirmity is [astheneia]. It is from the root word [asthenes] a negation of strength, meaning weakness. We can see in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 Paul speaks of perils and painfulness, suffering shipwrecks, hardships because of his preaching the gospel message, and in verse 30 calls it infirmities, saying He will glory in this. This is not physical sickness, but hardships under which he suffered and endured. Likewise, in speaking of persecution of God's people, we read in Hebrews:

Hebrews 11:34
•   "Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness, were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
That word translated "weakness" is the exact same word [asthenes] that is translated infirmities. In these times of weaknesses, Children of God are made strong, and it can be a time of rejoicing.

Romans 5:2-6
•   "By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
•   And not only so, but we GLORY IN TRIBULATIONS also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
•   And patience, experience; and experience, hope:
•   And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
•   For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
In weakness, that can be a time in which to experience the strength which only Christ can give. For he alone is without the weakness of sin that we have. And that infirmity or weakness is not physical, but a sin weakness.

Hebrews 4:15
•   "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
Again here we see the word infirmity used in the sense of frailty or weakness. It's at these times of infirmity when we more perfectly develop character that is pleasing to God. It's when we throw our hands up and surrender to the will of God that we know true contentment. Not my will, but Thine be done. When we are tried and buffeted by the Messenger of Satan, it works patience in us that we learn to depend on Christ for Strength. And this was Paul's infirmity that He would glory in.

James 1:2-4
•   "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
•   Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
•   But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."

This is an example for all of us. God knows what is best for us, and the answer to our prayers may not be what we wish, but it will always be what we need. This is the valuable lesson we glean from the scriptures here. The Lord would not give Paul what he prayed for, what he wanted, but He would give Paul what he needed. What was sufficient for His walk in this life and salvation. And that wasn't deliverance out of times of tribulation. In the big picture, Paul has everything, and the Messenger of Satan had nothing, because Paul has the Grace of God which is sufficient. It indeed would be the answer to all his prayers, for in all things we pray, "Not my will, but Thine be done!"


Paul

Offline Pierac

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2010, 02:34:43 AM »

Conclusion

It is not only possible to determine the nature of Paul's "thorn in the flesh," but it is incumbent upon us to compare scripture with scripture in order to do just that! Paul parallels the "thorn" with an infirmity or "weakness" in which he will glory for Christ's sake, and in 2nd Corinthians 10-13 he links his weakness with persecution. Paul says that this thorn is a Messenger from Satan, which is never identified with sickness or illness in scriptures. The word messenger always refers to a human being or angel or Christ. By contrast, Thorns are seen continually in scripture, a signification of those who are of Satan.

2nd Corinthians 11:29-33
•   "Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?
•   If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
•   The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.
•   In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me:
•   And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands."

These men persecuted and troubled Paul, and in this pleading with God for deliverance, Paul would learn patience and where his help is. In this would Paul glory, not in that He was used marvelously of God and received great revelations.

2nd Corinthians 12:10
•   "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."
•     Paul desired and prayed that this Messenger of Satan be removed from Him three times. The Number Three is the number of God's Purpose and will. It was not God's will that Paul have no persecution nor trouble from the Messenger of Satan. God tells us, We all shall have it. Indeed, through this trouble, Paul would be brought to a closer dependence upon Him, wherein his strength is made perfect in weakness. God's answer to Paul's prayer was that His Grace was sufficient for him. The Salvation of God was enough! The Lord didn't remove this Messenger of Satan, He instead gave him the strength to endure it. And in this, Paul could glory, and rejoice in the Power of Christ.

2nd Corinthians 13:3-4
•   "Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
•   For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you."
•   Such is the end of the matter. Paul rejoiced in his weakness, that the power of Christ rested upon him. Paul came to understand Grace was all that is necessary. It wasn't necessary that Paul's work go un-fettered, or that He be allowed to preach un-persecuted by the Messengers of Satan, for it's not by works, but by Grace we are Saved. And these persecutions and troubles only made him strong in the Lord. They worked patience. We are not justified by anything we do, but by Grace. And it was sufficient!

Titus 3:5-7
•   "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
•   Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
•   That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."



So why do so many theologians misinterpret Paul's thorn to mean sickness? In some instances, the reason is as simple as the word "motive." Some who are against the cessation of signs and healings do it in an attempt to prove that the Devil can place sicknesses in believers, and therefore they are given the gift of healing to combat it. Still others who are for the cessation of Signs and Healings do it in an attempt to prove that Paul couldn't heal himself, therefore they reason this gift of healing was not meant for the Church after the canon was completed. Ironically enough, in their zeal to prove the cessation of the signs gifts, many of the cessationist camp "choose" to do something they don't normally do, which is to ignore the "Sola Scriptura" principle and pay no heed to the pertinent scriptures, in order to claim that this thorn was an illness. But the end doesn't justify the means, and their agenda clouds their judgment. While on the other hand, many of the anti-cessationist camp rightly search the scriptures and present scriptures that prove that this thorn in the flesh messenger of Satan was not illness. In this, they have it right, even though in the big picture, they have it all wrong.

God made it clear that Jesus bore our sickness and infirmities, and that He did it by the cross. It was our "sin sickness" that He went to the cross to heal, not our physical sicknesses. The Signs and wonders which He did in healing physically, were "types" pointing to the power of His blood. But the Thorn in the flesh, which was the Messenger of Satan, was not physical illness. It was the persecutors of God's servants. It's normative for the believer, and they had to endure it. Grace was enough for them.
God instructs us that in this world we "shall" have tribulation. That's the nature of true Christianity. It always has been. People hate you, resent you and all that you testify of. When you come with the truth of the gospel, that enmity is a given. They therefore revile and persecute you because of it. These are the thorns in the flesh, the Messenger of Satan. The reproaches, the necessities of life, the persecutions and the infirmities, yes Paul had them. We all do.

Every Christian has some illness at sometime in their life. But Satan didn't give it them to them. Illness isn't a messengers of Satan that is placed in our body and sent to buffet us. That is a myth borne of unsound and unbiblical suppositions. Satan works from without the body, through other evil men, not from within our Body.
On the other hand, when the scriptures themselves say that this Thorn in the flesh was "A Messenger of Satan" I'd say we're on safe ground saying (testifying) that it was a messenger of Satan. Who would disagree? We know that no messenger of Satan is put within a Christian's body, it is impossible for Him to dwell there with Christ. And considering the myriad of scriptures (which I've only barely touched on) that illustrate that the thorns in believers are those Messengers of Satan are men who are false Prophets, fallen Congregationalists, evil men, etc., I'd say we're on solid ground. In other words, we have shown where a thorn in the flesh is used by God to symbolize those of Satan who come against, and buffet believers. God calls them "thorns in their sides." Can anyone show us one scripture that says a thorn in the flesh (or side, hand, toe, anywhere) is a disease, ailment, or sickness? What I'm saying is, interpretations must have some Biblical foundation. It's the most basic rule of biblical hermeneutics. If we start out with pre-suppositions like "it's a physical ailment", we end up with mind block where we won't even consider other possibilities.

All the Disciples had ailments, and they all "died from ailments" if they were not martyred. As you and I will probably die from an ailment (if Christ doesn't return before, or we're in an accident or killed). Ailments are a normal part of life, not a messenger from Satan. The miracles the disciples did of healings were "signs" for the completion of the scriptures. When the Holy canon was completed, the Signs pointing to salvation and Christ ceased. The only prophesies of end time or future signs and wonders now are references to Satanic activity (rev. 13, 2nd Thess. 2, matt. 24, etc.). Can I convince anyone of this? No, not in a hundred years of writings. But God can. Truth is discerned not by my feeble writings, but by the Holy Spirit working within each believer, through the searching and careful consideration of God's divine word.

   ..May the Lord who is Gracious above all, give us the Wisdom and understanding to discern His truth.
Amen!

Again taken from the studies of Tony Warren.  Just another mans opinion but a good one! :thumbsup:

Paul



Online micah7:9

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2010, 02:46:27 AM »
Thank you Tony Warren.
Mic 7:8  Thou dost not rejoice over me, O mine enemy, When I have fallen, I have risen, When I sit in darkness Jehovah is a light to me.

Offline Beloved Servant

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2010, 02:54:00 AM »

very ambitious.

Offline peacemaker

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2010, 03:38:14 AM »
Conclusion

May the Lord who is Gracious above all, give us the Wisdom and understanding to discern His truth. Amen!

Amen!  :thumbsup:

Offline Pierac

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Re: Paul's thorn or splinter
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2010, 06:48:22 AM »
Thank you Tony Warren.

Yea,

It's kinda cool when you find the answers your looking for that actually makes biblical sense! At least that's how I felt!  :dontknow:

Tony Warren's paper on the "Thorn in Paul's flesh" was a good find on the web for me!  :thumbsup:

Now, it's your turn to share...


Paul

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2010, 07:16:30 AM »
Rev 2:9  I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Rev 3:8  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Rev 3:9  Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

2Co 12:7  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.
 
2Co 12:8  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

2Co 12:9  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.

2Co 12:10  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.

Gal 4:29  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Heb 6:8  But that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.


Offline eaglesway

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2010, 03:50:05 PM »
As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself.
(Gal 4:13-14)

Although I do not have a particular set view on this, if we are to look at all the scripture that bears on this- this could be one that applies. I think it is quite possible it was a physical ailment. If His illness was a trial to them, perhaps, epilepsy(caused by a demonic spirit such as that which Jesus cast out many times) or a recurring case of something like malaria, which when one is infected frequently recurs for life.

Another possibility is

And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.
(Act 16:16-18)

That is was someone like this woman or say, Alexander the coppersmith that Paul spoke of ...
 

2Ti 4:14  Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.


I think the main issue is that Paul understood clearly from the Lord that the trial of his faith was more precious than gold and that he must bear that from which he requested deliverance- and the reason why he must bear it. This is so precious to me, speaking of the intimacy and clarity of Paul's relationship and communication with God.

It is clear to me that the interpersonal dynamics of any individual believer can fall outside the general principles we apply to subjects such as healing,deliverance, etc. So we find ourselves in humility before the Lord- Who does as He wills, always that we may grow in grace.
The Logos is complete, but it is not completely understood. hellisamyth.webs.com

Offline Cardinal

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2010, 04:33:08 PM »
 :cloud9: The only problem I have with it being people, is that I can't see Paul asking to have that thorn "removed", as if it was possible. That makes no sense to me, since He would be removing the "unsaved".

And I also don't see Paul being overly concerned with whatever words they came against him with; it's just sticks and stones and he knew the source if anyone ever did.

But there was a crown of thorns, which I see as the "outward" display of the minds of carnal men, that they mocked Him with, for the "gardens" of men's hearts grows nothing but briars since the curse.

And since He came to reverse all the curses, the "antidote" for that is the mind of Christ........Blessings.....
"I would rather train twenty men to pray, than a thousand to preach; A minister's highest mission ought to be to teach his people to pray." -H. MacGregor

Offline peacemaker

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2010, 06:27:45 AM »
Pride vs. Humility

When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with humility comes wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)
Before his downfall a man's heart is proud; but humility comes before honor. (Proverbs 18:12)
A man's pride brings him low; but a man of lowly spirit gains honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

"Humility leads to strength; not weakness"

peacemaker

Offline eaglesway

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2010, 11:39:15 AM »
That may be so Cardinal. I noticed that the KJV has "depart" and the CLV has "withdraw" rather than "remove".  I personally lean towards a physical ailment, because Paul calls it "this thing" in vs 8. I also recall that Paul counseled Timothy to take a little wine for his oft infirmities- I guess someone could chide Paul for not exhorting Timothy to claim healing from his "oft infirmity". I simply see it as further evidence that God did not give us the Word so we could put Him in a box with it.

I also find it interesting that in the context(2 Cor 2:10) Paul identifies essentially "all of the above", I think any of these could apply, given the context.

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.
(2Co 12:10)

The Logos is complete, but it is not completely understood. hellisamyth.webs.com

Online micah7:9

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2010, 10:17:25 PM »
Thank you, that is very good IICor. 12:10 God is an overwhelmer!
Mic 7:8  Thou dost not rejoice over me, O mine enemy, When I have fallen, I have risen, When I sit in darkness Jehovah is a light to me.

Offline eaglesway

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #21 on: May 09, 2010, 05:57:20 AM »
Yes, He is faithful to overwhelm until we overcome ;o)
The Logos is complete, but it is not completely understood. hellisamyth.webs.com

Offline Pierac

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2010, 07:11:24 AM »
:cloud9: The only problem I have with it being people, is that I can't see Paul asking to have that thorn "removed", as if it was possible. That makes no sense to me, since He would be removing the "unsaved".

And I also don't see Paul being overly concerned with whatever words they came against him with; it's just sticks and stones and he knew the source if anyone ever did.

But there was a crown of thorns, which I see as the "outward" display of the minds of carnal men, that they mocked Him with, for the "gardens" of men's hearts grows nothing but briars since the curse.

And since He came to reverse all the curses, the "antidote" for that is the mind of Christ........Blessings.....

Read Paul's letters... many were written to refute the thorn in his side...  :2c:  Paul was constantly having to defend his teachings to the Churches he started.  Why? Because the thorn was from Jerusalem and claimed more authority!

To be honest, in Paul's time... He was losing the battle... He even tells us so! 

This Thorn was serious business in Paul's eyes!  The thorn was making Paul obsolete and of little importance. I can show you from Paul's own words!

Paul

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2010, 07:25:53 AM »

"losing the battle"  ?

"obsolete and of little importance"   ?




« Last Edit: May 09, 2010, 03:07:31 PM by Beloved Servant »

Offline Pierac

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Re: Pauls thorn or splinter
« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2010, 04:42:51 AM »

"losing the battle"  ?

"obsolete and of little importance"   ?


Indeed, he (Paul) thought so... but you would already know this if you read his writings! :thumbsup:


Paul