he Bible does not say what was the thorn in Paul’s flesh. We only know that the thorn in the flesh tormented Paul and that God did not remove it. Despite causing him a lot of suffering, the thorn in the flesh helped Paul to remain humble.
Paul received a thorn in the flesh after having a glorious view of paradise. The thorn in the flesh served to prevent him from becoming arrogant or thinking he was superior because of the revelation he had ( 2 Corinthians 12: 7 ).
Paul suffered a lot from the thorn in the flesh and prayed to God three times asking him to remove it. But the answer he received was that God’s grace was enough for him ( 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9 ). God did not remove the thorn in the flesh but helped Paul in his weakness.
There is no longer any reference to the thorn in Paul’s flesh, so no one knows what it was. The Bible does not say whether the thorn in the flesh was linked to any disease or persecution that Paul suffered throughout his life. But we know some important facts about the thorn in Paul’s flesh:
- It was of spiritual origin– the Bible says that the thorn in the flesh was a “messenger of Satan”;
- It had physical effects– the thorn affected Paul’s flesh (body) in some way; this is not the first reference to a physical problem caused by a spiritual problem ( Luke 13:11 );
- It was bad– the thorn in the flesh tormented Paul and he really wanted to be free of him
- God allowed– Paul’s suffering had a purpose; God did not deliver him from suffering but helped him to grow with that experience.
See here: can a believer be possessed by a demon?
Why didn’t God remove the thorn in the flesh?
The Bible says that God did not heal Paul from the thorn in the flesh to show that His grace was sufficient. When he was weak and in pain, Paul could see that the success of his ministry did not depend on him. He was very privileged to receive visions and gifts, but all of this was the work of God. Paul was weak but God is strong and he used Paul to bless many people.
See also: why does God allow suffering?
God even used Satan’s cruel action for Paul’s good! Satan tries to destroy us but God uses even the most difficult situations to help us grow and learn ( Romans 8:28 ). The thorn in Paul’s flesh was a bad thing, which no one should want, but God reversed the situation.