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Paul's "Thorn in the Flesh" in 2 Corinthians 12

A consideration of Paul's "thorn in the flesh" mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12. What are the various theories regarding this problem? Which one seems to best fit the context of 2 Corinthians?

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The word "skolops", translated as thorn, means anything sharp or pointed; a splinter. It is something capable of procuring pains when it pierces someone. Figuratively, it could be something that procures pains and suffering. "Thorn in the flesh" is an expression; a figure of speech used in explaining a persistent difficulty, annoyance, sickness, persecution, trouble, etc. Paul, by using this expression in 2 Corinthians 12:7, wants to express a difficult situation in which he finds himself. A situation that creates sufferings for him, to the extent that he also calls it "a messenger from Satan". Similar expressions could be found in Numbers 33:55 and Joshua 23:13 (though not the same word), where we have situations of oppression the Israelites will suffer from.

The difficulty in understanding 2 Cor 12,7 arises when one wants to give a specific name to the nature of this "thorn-difficulty". Scholars have diverse interpretations. Some interpretations are ridiculous: his visions affected his nerves to the extent of causing him a paralytic disorder, even stammering in speech. I will divide these interpretations into three categories: Physical, spiritual/moral and apostolic difficulties.

Physical: According to Gal 4:13-14, Paul had a physical sickness which was the reason why he preached the Gospel to the Galatians. For some scholars, Paul may be referring to this sickness of the eye because he said that the Galatians would have carved out their eyes to give him. In other words, the thorn in the flesh in 2 Corinthians will be referring to that eye illness. For some it is a question of epilepsy, malaria, neuralgia, leprosy, etc.

Spiritual/Moral: Incapacity of speech (2 Cor 10:10). Based on the arguments of the 2 Cor 12 where ...

Solution Summary

This solution deals with the highly discussed "Paul's thorn in the flesh". For ages it has been a constant concern among Christians to decipher what Paul meant exactly when he used the expressionin 2 Corinthians 12 in the context of apologia.
There are several opinions among scholars that goes from physical illness to immoral desires and so on and similar expressions could be found in Numbers 33:55 and Joshua 23:13. It is quite evident in the text that Paul was speaking about a painful difficulty that touched him deeply. Nevetheless, the problem arises when one wants to pinpoint the exact difficulty or at least its nature. The answer given in the solution is given under three categories: Physical, Spiritual/moral, Apostolic. Taking a lookat the context of the passage helps in coming closer to whatever it was that Paul concealed under the metaphor "thorn in the flesh".

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