Nobleton Community Church
January 14, 2024
TEXT:   II Corinthians 12:1-10
Pastor Paul V. Lehmann RDS

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In the last part of chapter 11 of II Corinthians the Apostle Paul is boasting about “his credentials” so to speak. In verses 22-27 he tells us about the fact that he is a Hebrew, and a descendent of Abraham and a servant of Jesus Christ, just like some other people. He even admits that he is boasting like people of the world, like a fool.  But he goes on to say that he has worked much harder than some others. He tells us that he has been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. He goes on in verse 24 and following.

In verse 28 we read; “Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. He tells us he is weak but he doesn’t feel

That leads me to chapter 12 where he tells us about his visions and revelations from the Lord (in the 3rd person), where he heard inexpressible things that no one is permitted to tell. Something else that he could boast about, but he refrains from doing it so no one will thin more of him than is warranted. Now because of these surpassingly great revelations, in order to keep him from becoming conceited, Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment him. Three times he pleaded with the Lord to take it away from him. But the Lord said to him;


So in verse 10 Paul says …for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties For when I am week, then I am strong.

Some commentators have said that Paul’s thorn in the flesh refers to a physical illness. But this isn’t affirmed by anywhere else in scripture.  It is true that we don’t know exactly, but based on the context we have an idea and even though a physical problem is possible, I don’t believe it was. Some have imagined it might have been Malaria, or epilepsy, or an eye disease, or club feet or a hunched back. But there is nothing to back any of this up, except maybe the fact that he says in Galatians 4:15 that he knew they would give up their eyes for him if they could. And then in 6:11 he remarks about the LARGE letters he is making in writing to them. Nevertheless it doesn’t seem feasible that it is a physical ailment, even considering this passage and especially what he has written in II Corinthians.

Paul’s influence was growing He was preaching all over to kings and governors and world leaders. He was planting churches, writing New Testament scriptures and everywhere he went he was pushing back the gates of hell. He endured much persecution by religious leaders. When he went into  a city, the first thing he did was go into a synagogue, but when he preached the Gospel, he was reported to the authorities and they arrested him, and frequently beat him an put him in prison. Remember what we read from chapter 11. If the opposition wasn’t from the Jewish leaders it was from pagan (Gentiles). In Acts 16:16-24 a slave girl fortune-teller made a lot of money for her masters by predicting the future. Paul delivered her from the spirit of divination. Her owners seized Paul and had him arrested, beaten and put in prison, because he had taken away their means of income.

The biggest “thorn” in Paul’s life was the fact that he had to deal with these different groups of people who covertly planned the problems and hassles he faced in his ministry.

.The messenger from Satan, perhaps even a demonic angel, had been sent to incite these people against Paul.

If you survey the  types of ordeals Paul endured you will see that many of them were orchestrated by these people who wanted to get rid of him. They were all teaming with hatred toward him. They wanted to see his head on a stake

One of the greatest kinds of attacks Paul experienced was not just words, but physical beatings which explains his use of the word translated buffet or like the NIV “torment me.”

. All of these kind of things presented opposition to the spreading of the gospel. They were brought about by PEOPLE.

Bishop K.C. Pillai from India has written a little book entitled: “Light Through an Eastern window.”  When used as a figure of speech, a thorn in the flesh always refers to irritating or bothersome people. In fact it so used in the Old Testament.  Numbers 33:55-56 refers to people. “ …if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in you sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.  And then in Joshua 23:13…”they…will become snares and traps for you, whips on your backs and thorns in your eyes….” And then again in Judges 2:3  “thorns in your sides” is used.

When we consider all of what Paul went through in his ministry, it seems incongruent to think he was asking the Lord “to take away a physical ailment. But to ask the Lord to “give him a break” so to speak from all the people who were led by Satanic forces to prevent the spreading of the Gospel,  seems quite plausible.

So in light of what I have shared, I don’t believe Paul’s thorn in the flesh was sickness or any physical ailment. It is possible that he did ask for some of his physical problems to be taken away, but I don’t think we should ever use this passage as a proof text when we don’t get healed. Some do this. They say; “See Paul asked the Lord to heal him, and he didn’t do it. He said, “my grace is sufficient for you.”  I also don’t believe in our vernacular that the Lord was saying to him:  “suck it up and go on.”  Paul had already done that. He practically ignored any physical problems he had. What he was asking for was to relieve some of the pressure he was feeling every time he shared the gospel. The response of the Lord to him, is the same response he is telling us.

 He is saying, no matter how much opposition you have from people, no matter how hard it seems to witness for me, MY GRACE IS SUFFICEINT.


You see, the devil used people again and again, trying to keep Paul so distracted solving “people problems” that he wouldn’t be able to make any more significant personal or Gospel advancements.

What about us? What do you intend to do about the “thorns” that Satan is using to steal your joy and sidetrack you from what God has called you to do.? How do you intend to react to this ongoing disturbance? Paul never allowed people to keep him from fulfilling his divine call, and you shouldn’t either I urge you to follow his example. Don’t allow people to stop you, or to annoy you, or hold you back from doing what God has called you to do.

Satan is afraid of you and your gifts when you use them to serve the Lord. He is afraid of your potential, or else he wouldn’t bother to Insite people to stir up trouble for you.