Friday, April 10, 2015

Paul's thorn in the flesh and the favorable Satan!


This is a swift and short one. 

Many have dissected 2Co 12:7 to arrive at what Paul meant by the expression "thorn in the flesh". Their conclusions vary. I am not greatly interested in their conclusions, my focus is slightly different. Let us look at the verse with a different emphasis.

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2Co 12:7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure
In simpler terms, what Paul says is:

  • He is given some physical disorder in order to prevent him from exalting himself about the revelations he has received.

    (We see around us preachers who develop spiritual pride because of the snippets of revelation that they claim to have.)
  • He calls the physical disorder as a messenger of Satan and says it prevents him from exalting himself.
Let me offer myself as an example. Assume that I have abundance of revelations from God. But I have a speech disorder (like stammering or lisping) which prevents me from boasting. Because of my cultural background I call the speech disorder as a messenger of Satan. But at the end of the day, it prevents me from being boastful, which is, after all, good and positive.

Whatever is referred to as the messenger of Satan has a positive impact on the person concerned. And no positive thing can come from Satan (whom Christianity understands as an accuser,  someone who rebelled against God and an enemy of God and men) whereas everything that is good comes from God.

In short, Satan won't insert a thorn into the flesh of a saint so that he/she will do good. The verse does not prove the existence of an evil incarnate called Satan. It just proves that we need to understand the cultural context of the text and use our common sense while studying scriptures.

Thank you,
In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal

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