‘How do you handle the thorn in your side?’
Question: Apostle Paul was afflicted with an unmovable thorn in his side. Who was Apostle Paul and what was the thorn in his side?
Answer: Saul who was also called Paul (Acts 13:9), was introduced to us (Acts 7:58) as a young man witnessing a murder of a Deacon name Stephen. As Stephen was being martyred scripture says that the witnesses of the accused laid Stephen’s clothes at the feet of Saul. From Paul’s birth until his persecutor of Christians there is little information concerning his life. Paul was the author of 13 (although many conclude 14) of the 27 books in the New Testament. One of Paul’s writings or epistles to the churches says in Philippians 3:4-6 : he followed Jewish law, he was from the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee, and he exhibit zeal for persecuting the church. Paul was born in Tarsus, a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37 & 21:39). He was educated under the feet of Rabi Gamaliel. Paul was a fluent speaker in several languages. Paul’s personal appearance was not impressive. (CRE, pp 31f) in the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla: ‘And he saw Paul coming, a man little of stature, thin-haired upon the head, crooked legs, of good state of body, with joining eyebrows, and a nose somewhat hooked, full of grace: for at times he appeared a man, and sometimes he had the face of an angel’.
Now, what was that thorn? 2 Corinthians 12:7 states: ‘And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure’. Honestly, we don’t know. Some say it was a series of spiritual temptations. After all Paul was allowed to see a ‘third heaven’. Others suggest carnal temptations. Some conclude that the thorn was a physical deformity, such as epilepsy, migraines or a chronic eye problem. A hunchback, bouts with malaria and throbbing head pain. Biblical scholars and theologians alike will identify the thorn in their own way. Nobody knows for sure. What we do know is that the enemy (Satan) attempted used the thorn to detour Paul’s calling to spread the word of God. What is the thorn in your side? Are you allowing it to detour your faith in God? Philippians 3:14 sums it up: I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’.
Reverend David Deal is the senior pastor at Every Christian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Reverend Deal can be reached at the Westside Gazette, 545 NW Seventh Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Fla 33311, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org