Tradition has taught that Paul's thorn in the flesh was some type of physical ailment or sickness. If you will take time to study the Word, you will find that this is not true.

Paul clearly states in 2 Corinthians 12:7 that because of the abundance of revelations he had received, he was given a thorn in the flesh and the thorn was "a messenger of Satan." The Greek word translated as "messenger" always refers to someone who is sent and denotes a definite personality.

This same word for messenger is translated in other verses of the New Testament as "angel." Angels, as God's messengers, are created beings with personality. Satan's messenger would be in the same category. In contrast, sickness is not a personality, nor a messenger.

Paul's thorn in the flesh was a wicked spirit or angel sent by Satan to buffet him. Buffet means to strike repeatedly. God does not send wicked spirits against people in the Body of Christ for any reason (James 1:13).

He sent the Holy Spirit and has given us His Word, which is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness to discipline and guide us (see John 16:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

The phrase "thorn in the flesh" is a figure of speech or illustration. It is similar to our calling someone who irritates us "a pain in the neck." Likewise, Paul's thorn was an evil angel who caused him great irritation, but not with sickness or disease.

In 2 Corinthians 11:24-26, Paul lists what some of the "irritations" were—being imprisoned, stoned, beaten, shipwrecked and attacked by angry mobs.

Other examples of the persecutions Paul suffered are found in Acts 13:45,50 and Acts 14:5-7,19-20. The people in these verses were instruments used by the source of persecution—the messenger of Satan.

This evil angel was assigned to Paul for one reason—to stop the Word from being preached. Wherever Paul went, the messenger of Satan worked to incite the people against him. All the persecutions that Paul suffered were Satan's attempts to steal the Word from him (see Mark 4:14-20).

Satan will see to it that no believer is exalted about the measure of the Word that actually lives in him. The Word that is alive in your heart is the Word on which you steadfastly act. You will have to stand in faith for every word of revelation knowledge you receive.

Many have used Galatians 4:13 to support their traditional teaching that Paul's thorn was sickness or disease: "You know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first." The Greek word for infirmities means "want of strength; weakness, indicating inability to produce results."

This translation is used in 1 Corinthians 2:3: "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." Like many believers, when Paul first started ministering, he never felt he had the natural ability to do the job God called him to do.

But the next verse goes on to tell us he was obedient anyway and the Holy Spirit made up the difference with a demonstration of His power: "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1 Cor. 2:4).

Paul's infirmity or weakness of the flesh provided an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to do a mighty work.

Eagle Mountain International Church, Inc.
aka: Kenneth Copeland Ministries