My wife (Laura) and I had a great conversation about the “thorn” in the Apostle Paul’s side, “a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Laura found through Dr. Constable’s Notes p. 167 different interpretations about the thorn:
“Three basic suggested interpretations of the thorn are as follows: (1) If flesh is a reference to the body, then it is a physical ailment like an earache, headache, eye trouble, epilepsy, or recurrent fever. (2) If flesh is a reference to the fallen nature, then the thorn could be a temptation. (3) If the expression is figurative, it could refer to persecution or opposition. Most commentators interpret it as a physical ailment.”1
“Many early church Fathers and Reformers understood the thorn to be a spiritual temptation—perhaps a tendency toward pride, or the opposition of Paul’s enemies. Some modern Roman Catholic interpreters take it as a fleshly temptation that assailed Paul’s moral purity. Many modern Protestant interpreters see it as a bodily suffering, namely, some physical illness or infirmity such as bad eyesight, a speech impediment, malaria,2 or epilepsy (cf. Gal. 4:13-15).3 Since the scriptural data does not provide a definite answer, it seems best to suspend judgment on any conclusion. Various commentators have made good cases for every one of the explanations
described above. Probably Paul avoided being explicit so his readers would not focus on his particular form of affliction exclusively.”
In light of Dr. Constable’s Notes given above, there seems to be 3 different approaches to the Apostle Paul’s thorn:
- Spiritual Temptation
- Fleshly Temptation
- Physical Illness or Infirmity
However, what was profound to my wife was how “God used evil for good”, which struck me odd at first because my brain does not make sense of good using evil for good; that to me sounds like evil is nothing more than a tool rather than a force necessitating justice, and thereby making good and evil indistinguishable.
I’m intrigued. So, let’s explore!…