What Was Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh?”
The Apostle Paul endured great hardships to serve the Lord (2 Corinthians 11:23-29). Yet something tormented Paul and was an incredible burden for him. Paul referred to this burden as “a thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7).
No one knows exactly what this “thorn” represented. Some suggest that Paul had a chronic physical weakness such as an eye problem (Galatians 4:15), a speech problem (2 Corinthians 10:10), or a disease. Others suggest that Paul was continuously battling addiction, temptation, or regret for past sins (Romans 7:14-25; see also Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:13; Judges 2:3).
Several scholars say Paul’s “thorn” was the persecution he endured from the Jews wherever he traveled. (Acts 20:19; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7). He prayed three times that this problem would leave him (2 Corinthians 12:8). The Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul said his “thorn in his flesh” made him humble before God and kept him from exalting himself. He was content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities because when he was weak, the Lord’s strength and power were made evident (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).