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#7. PAUL'S THORN IN THE FLESH WAS NOT A SICKNESS
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- Paul's Thorn in the flesh Bible Study Index
- #2. REASONS WHY IT'S ALWAYS GOD'S PERFECT WILL TO HEAL EVERY BELIEVER
- #7. PAUL'S THORN IN THE FLESH WAS NOT A SICKNESS
- Introduction 7.1
- #7.1 WEAKNESS NOT INFIRMITY
- #7.2 THE REASON WHY PAUL WAS GIVEN HIS "THORN"
- #7.3 THE MEANING OF "A THORN IN THE FLESH"
- #7.4 THE MEANING OF "BUFFET"
- #7.5 HOW PAUL'S "THORN" AFFECTED HIS FLESH
- #7.6 THE WORK OF THE MESSENGER OF SATAN
- #7.7 PAUL'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS HIS "THORN"
- #7.8 REASONS WHY PAUL WILLINGLY SUFFERED HIS "THORN"
- #7.81 So that the power and life of Jesus could be manifested in his body
- #7.82 Because the more the affliction, the more they multiply
- #7.83 Because it encouraged others to speak the word of God boldly
- #7.84 Because it proved that he was a joint-heir with Christ
- #7.85 Because his suffering benefited the church
- #7.86 Because his suffering glorified God
- #7.87 Because he had a great reward in heaven
- #7.9 CONTRARY SCRIPTURES EXPLAINED
- #7.91 The Galatians would have plucked their eyes out for Paul
- #7.92 Paul wrote a large letter
Why is "Paul's thorn in the flesh" such an important and controversial topic for us today? Simply because there are different beliefs about what Paul's thorn was, and some believe that it was a sickness, or physical infirmity, which God refused to heal him of. If this were true, and the apostle Paul was sick and couldn't get healed, then none of us can stand in faith for healing, because if God refused to heal Paul, and he does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), how then can we expect him to heal us? If, while we are praying for healing, the devil can come to us and say, "My grace is sufficient for you:" (2 Corinthians 12:8), and we believe that it is God speaking to us, how then could we fulfil the first condition to receive healing by faith, which is that we have no doubts?
(Matthew 21:21) "If you have faith, and do not doubt1,"
(Mark 11:23) "whoever ... shall not doubt1 in his heart, but shall believe"
(James 1:6-7) "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering1. For he who wavers1 ... Let not that man thing that he shall receive anything of the Lord."
(James 5:15) "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick,"
The word translated doubt1 (Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:23) is the
same Greek verb διακρίνω (Gtr. diakrino), which is also translated wavering1,
and wavers1 (James 1:6 KJV). In context here, it means "to
judge", "to dispute", or "to contend" in the mind, and thus "to doubt". Doubt about what God's will is, or about what God has said, is one
of the devil's devices which he uses to deceive us, and rob us of the blessings which God has promised us. The first thing he said to Eve in the
garden of Eden was, "Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1). By suggesting that she could, he was trying to get
Eve to doubt what God had said. When he saw that she knew what God had said, he tried to get her to doubt the consequences of it by saying, "You shall surely
not die:" (Genesis 3:4). Those who teach that Paul's thorn was a sickness cannot show us from scripture what that sickness was because the scripture
does not say, but through speculation and supposition, they are doing the work of the devil by sowing doubts in the hearts of people who need to believe.
So we need to settle the issue according to the scripture, to show what Paul's thorn was, and remove the opportunity that the devil has to rob us of healing, through our own ignorance.
(Hosea 4:6) "My people are destroyed through lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you."
2 CORINTHIANS 12:7-10 (Paul)
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.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord three times, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness1. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities1, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities1, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak2, then I am strong.
Note: The word translated infirmities1, and weakness1 (v9), and infirmities1 (v10), are all different forms of the same Greek noun ἀσθένεια (Gtr. astheneia), which can refer to weakness or infirmity, both physical and spiritual, depending upon the context. It is translated using the sense of "infirmity" (17 times), weakness" (5x), "sickness" (1x), and "diseases" (1x). In some cases when translated "infirmities" it should be taken as "weakness", or at least understood in a spiritual sense (Romans 6:19; 8:26; 2 Corinthians 11:30; 12:5; 12:9; 12:10; Galatians 4:13; Hebrews 7:28 etc.). The word translated I am weak2 (Gr. ἀσθενῶ, Gtr. astheno) is the verb which corresponds with the noun "astheneia", and can also refer to weakness or sickness, again depending on the context. The question is, "What do they refer to in this context?" There are certain words which we would naturally contrast together: large and small, good and evil, light and dark etc. Here in these two verses, the word "astheneia" is contrasted with "strength" (Gtr. dunamis), which also means "power", while the word "astheno" is contrasted with "strong" (Gtr. dunatos), which also means "mighty" or "powerful". So in both of these cases the translations "weakness" and "weak" are perfectly good; but we couldn't contrast "strength" with "sickness" or "disease" could we? We would have to contrast "sickness" or "disease" with "health". So what does it mean where it is translated "infirmities" (vv 9,10)? Considering that it is all the same context, it aught really to be translated "weaknesses" to be consistent. His weakness was his inability, of his own self, to cope with the physical consequences (See #7.5) which came upon him "in reproaches, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake:" (v10). He needed the grace of God to help him. Notice how he put it to the Galatians:
(Galatians 4:13) "You know that how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you at first."
What "infirmity of the flesh" did Paul preach the gospel through? Not sickness, he preached through the consequences of "reproaches", "persecutions", and "distresses for Christ's sake:" (v10), and that is what his "thorn" was, people who were inspired by "the messenger of Satan", persecuting and reproaching him.
2 CORINTHIANS 12:7 (Paul)
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.
Note: The reason why Paul was given his "thorn" was because of the abundance of revelations that he had. Paul said that his revelations came directly from Jesus (Galatians 1:11-12), and he had so many that he was able to write a large portion of the New Testament. Once he was caught up into the third heaven where he heard "unspeakable words, which is not lawful for a man to utter." (2 Corinthians 12:2-4), and a person in such a position would be very vulnerable to be flattered and praised by people, who could cause him to be exalted and snared by the devil. Thus to counter the temptation to be exalted, God allowed people to persecute Paul to keep him humble. If Christians who are sick, think that they have Paul's thorn, then we need to ask "what abundance of revelations are you having?" because without them there was no need for his thorn, was there?
55 But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those that you let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land in which you dwell.
56 Furthermore it shall come to pass, that I shall do to you, as I thought to do to them.
JOSHUA 23:11-13 (Joshua)
11 Take good heed therefore to yourselves, that you love Yahweh your God,
12 Else if you do in any way go back, and cling to the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in to them, and they to you;
13 Know for a certainty that Yahweh your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good land which Yahweh your God has given you.
2 And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall throw down their altars: but you have not obeyed my voice: why have you done this?
3 Therefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their Gods shall be a snare to you.
24 And there shall be no more a pricking brier to the house of Israel, nor any of grieving thorn of all that are round about them, that despised them; and they shall know that I am the Lord Yahweh.
Note: Why did Paul use such an expression as "a thorn in the flesh," (2 Corinthians 12:7) when describing his affliction to the Corinthians? If he was sick, why didn't he say that he was sick? He said that Epaphroditus was sick (Philippians 2:26), and he also said that Trophimus was sick (2 Timothy 4:20). So if a "thorn in the flesh" refers to sickness, why didn't Paul say that Epaphroditus had a "thorn in the flesh"? Why didn't he say that Trophimus had a "thorn in the flesh"? Where in the bible does it ever record anyone being healed of a "thorn in the flesh"? When people were sick or diseased, doesn't the bible state it plainly everywhere? God does not try to hide, or disguise the fact that Christians get sick, but rather set gifts of healing in the church (1 Corinthians 12:9), and ordained that the prayer of faith would heal the sick (James 5:15). Paul wasn't trying to confuse the Corinthians by referring to his affliction as a "thorn in the flesh", but he used terminology from the Old Testament, which explained his situation very well. He said that he believed, "all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:" (Acts 24:14), so he knew what these scriptures meant, and they would also be available to the Corinthians too. When the Israelites went into the promised land, they were told to destroy their enemies completely, and often they did (Numbers 21:35; Deuteronomy 2:33-34; Joshua 6:21; 8:24), but when they did not obey, and mixed with them, then they would vex them, and come back and persecute them in times of weakness. This situation still exists today with Israel, particularly with those nations around them who are possessors of the original land given to Joshua (Joshua 1:4). Notice that a "thorn" always refers to people:
(Numbers 33:55) "those which you let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes,
and thorns1 in your sides, and shall vex you in the land in which you dwell."
(Joshua 23:13) "these nations ... they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns1 in your eyes,"
(Judges 2:2-3) "the inhabitants of this land; ... they shall be as thorns in your sides,"
(Ezekiel 28:24) "there shall be no more a pricking brier ... nor any of grieving thorn2 of all that are round about them, that despised them;"
In this last scripture, the word translated thorn2 (Hb. קוֹץ , Htr. qôts) is similarly translated elsewhere also. The fact that it does refer literally to a thorn is evident by its use everywhere. The word translated thorns1 (Hb. צְנִנִים , Htr. tsenînîm) only occurs twice in the Old Testament (Numbers 33:55; Joshua 23:13). In two of these scriptures Numbers 33:55; Ezekiel 28:24) the word used in the Septuagint (Gtr. skolops) to translate the Hebrew word "qôts", is the same word used by Paul when he referred to his "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). This shows us that this was exactly what Paul was referring to. Nowhere in scripture does a "thorn" ever refer to a sickness, or disease, or physical infirmity, but only to people who were a nuisance, or harassment. So why then would Paul ever use it in any other context? The answer is that he wouldn't. Paul used this terminology to convey to the Corinthians the exact nature of his affliction, just like we might refer to somebody who troubles us today as "a pain in the neck". Even though the Israelites suffered their "thorn" through disobedience, while Paul's was for his own safeguard against self exaltation, it does not alter the fact that a "thorn" refers to people who persecuted in both cases. Strictly speaking we could say that Paul's "thorn" was spiritually the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him (See #7.4), and physically the people who he used to persecute Paul (See #7.6). But to interpret a "thorn in the flesh" as a sickness, or physical infirmity, is a subtle ploy of the devil to steal the faith of ignorant Christians and keep them sick. Once we know that Paul's "thorn" was not a sickness, the devil will never be able to use it to stop us from getting healed. However, we now need to answer the question, "If a thorn in the flesh means persecution, why doesn't the bible say that other Christians had a thorn in the flesh"? because we have all been promised persecution (See #7.84 Note). The answer is that Paul's persecution was excessive in nature (2 Corinthians 11:23-25), and though many Christians were persecuted, some even to death (Acts 7:54-60), Paul's was over a prolonged period. His attitude was "I am more;", and he faced "deaths often." (2 Corinthians 11:23). There is no evidence that anyone else had such prolonged and severe persecution through an evil angel being assigned against them individually. Why else would Jesus have a crown of thorns put on his head (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:17) if it was not to symbolize that he is the king of all those who are persecuted?
2 CORINTHIANS 12:7 (Paul)
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 buffet1 me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
67 Then they spat in his face, and buffeted him; and others struck him with the palms of their hands,
68 Saying, Prophesy to us, You Christ, Who is it who struck you?
65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say to him, Prophesy; and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.
1 CORINTHIANS 4:11 (Paul)
11 Even to this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are bare, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place;
1 PETER 2:19-20
19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20 For what glory is it, if when you are buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? but if, when you do well and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
Note: Did Paul say that this messenger of Satan was sent to make him sick? No, it was sent to "buffet" him (2 Corinthians 12:7), which literally means "to strike with blows". The verb translated buffet1 (Gr. κολαφίζω, Gtr. kolaphizo) comes from the noun "kolaphos", which means "a fist", and so means "to strike with the fist", or "to punch". So if this was what the messenger of Satan did to Paul, how could it ever refer to sickness, or physical infirmity? The same word is used of Jesus when he was on trial before his crucifixion, they "buffeted him;" (Matthew 26:67 KJV; Mark 14:65 KJV). We could only honestly interpret this as a blow or a punch; it couldn't mean that they made him sick, could it? In fact, everywhere this word is used elsewhere (1 Corinthians 4:11 KJV; 1 Peter 2:20 KJV), taking it in context, it is always used of people persecuting, and that is what Paul's "thorn" was.
2 CORINTHIANS 1:5-6 (Paul)
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ.
6 And whether we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:10-11 (Paul)
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be manifest in our mortal flesh.
2 CORINTHIANS 7:4-5 (Paul)
4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation.
5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.
2 CORINTHIANS 11:23-25 (Paul)
23 Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool, I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths often.
24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I spent in the deep.
GALATIANS 4:13-14 (Paul)
13 You know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you at the first.
14 And my temptation which was in my flesh you did not despise, nor rejected: but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
GALATIANS 6:17 (Paul)
17 From now on let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
PHILIPPIANS 3:10 (Paul)
10 That I might know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable to his death;
COLOSSIANS 1:24 (Paul)
24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church.
Note: A person can get to a place in Christ, walking in obedience and faith, where it is impossible for the devil to put sickness on him (Exodus 15:26; Psalm 91:9-10; 121:7; Proverbs 19:23; 26:2; Ecclesiastes 8:5; 1 John 5:18). Evidence that Paul was at this place was given when a viper bit him, and though he should have died, it had no effect on him at all (Acts 28:3-6). So when we look at how Paul described his sufferings in various places, not only was it impossible for them to refer to sickness, but they clearly indicate persecution for Christ's sake.
(2 Corinthians 1:5) "the sufferings of Christ abound in us,"
(2 Corinthians 4:10) "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus,"
(Galatians 4:13) "through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel",
(Galatians 4:14) "my temptation which was in my flesh",
(Galatians 6:17) "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."
(Colossians 1:24) "the afflictions of Christ in my flesh".
Notice where he said that his afflictions were, "in the body", "in my body", and "in my flesh", exactly where his "thorn" was. Notice also that elsewhere he refers to "the afflictions of the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:8), and preaching the gospel "through infirmity of the flesh" (Galatians 4:13 KJV). When he went into Macedonia, he said, "our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings," (2 Corinthians 7:5 KJV). This was persecution which came through casting a spirit of divination out of a woman at Philippi (Acts 16:18), which resulted in them being flogged and cast into prison (Acts 16:23). If we take note of how many times he was beaten and flogged (2 Corinthians 11:23-25), we can not only see how much his flesh must have been affected by his "thorn", but we can understand why he initially wanted to get rid of it.
49 And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
50 But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their border.
1 And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke, that a great multitude of Jews and also of Greeks believed.
2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.
19 And there came there certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.
5 But the Jews who did not believe, moved with envy, took to them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came there also, and stirred up the people.
ACTS 20:19 (Paul)
19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations1, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:
27 And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews who were of Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him.
28 Crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man, who teaches all men every where against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and has polluted this holy place.
Note 1: Having explained that the devil could not afflict Paul's body directly with sickness, or any other evil (See #7.5 Note), there was only one other way that God would ever allow Paul to be afflicted, and that was persecution. The work of "the messenger of Satan" (a fallen angel - a demon) can be seen in these passages where he not only stirred up the Jews against Paul, but also used them continually to stir up others against him, and to bring strong persecution against him wherever he went.
At Antioch (Acts 13:50) "the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city,"
At Iconium (Acts 14:2) "the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles,"
At Lystra (Acts 14:19) "certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, ... stoned Paul,"
At Thessalonica (Acts 17:5) "the Jews who did not believe, moved with envy, ... set all the city on an uproar,"
At Berea (Acts 17:13) "the Jews of Thessalonica ... stirred up the people."
At Jerusalem (Acts 21:27) "the Jews who were of Asia, ... stirred up all the people, and laid hands on him."
Over forty Jews even went so far as to bind themselves under a curse, to eat or drink nothing until they had killed Paul (Acts 23:12-15), while in Asia the silversmith idol makers were used to stir people up against Paul in order to defend their craft (Acts 19:22-41). All of this, and much more, was the work of the messenger of Satan sent to buffet Paul, which shows again that his "thorn in the flesh" was people persecuting him, and not a sickness.
Note 2: The word translated temptations1 (Gr. πειρασμός, Gtr. peirasmos) (Acts 20:19), is the same word which is also used in the phrase "my temptation which was in my flesh" (Galatians 4:14 KJV; See #7.5 Note), where in context Paul is referring to his "thorn". Here Paul's temptations are specifically said to be, "by the lying in wait of the Jews". Thus Paul's "infirmity of the flesh" (Galatians 4:13 KJV), which is the same as "my temptation ... in my flesh" (Galatians 4:14 KJV), is now shown to be "by the lying in wait of the Jews:" (Acts 20:19 KJV). Again this shows that Paul's "thorn" was people persecuting him, and not a sickness.
Note 3: What was the message that the "messenger of Satan" came with? Just like the devil, who is "a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44), this messenger came with a load of false accusations against Paul, which he used people to deliver:
(Acts 16:20-21) "These men, being Jews do exceedingly trouble our city. And teach customs which are not lawful for us
to receive, neither to observe, being Romans."
(Acts 17:7) "these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar,"
(Acts 18:13) "This man persuaded men to worship God contrary to the law."
(Acts 21:27) "This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place: and further brought Greeks into the temple, and has polluted this holy place."
(Acts 24:5-6) "For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:
Who has also gone about to profane the temple:"
Thus we can see how, by listening to all the lies told about Paul, people everywhere were stirred up against him.
2 CORINTHIANS 11:30 (Paul)
30 If I must glory, I will glory of the things which concern my infirmities.
2 CORINTHIANS 12:5, 9-10 (Paul)
5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in my infirmities.
9 And he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Note: Just as Jesus, in the garden before his crucifixion, prayed three times for a possible escape from the persecution and the cross facing him (Matthew 26:36-46), so Paul also sought God three times to escape his "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:8). Neither escaped what faced them. Jesus was strengthened by an angel (Luke 22:43) and "was heard in that he feared:" (Hebrews 5:7), while Paul was given grace to sustain him (2 Corinthians 12:9). So was Paul's attitude towards his "thorn" the same as people's attitude to their sicknesses, or was it a scriptural response to persecution? Well, after he had received his answer from God, and came to terms with it, his attitude towards it was summed up in two phrases: "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities," (v9), and "I take pleasure in infirmities," (v10). So he gloried in it, and took pleasure in it. This is hardly a person's attitude towards sickness is it? How many Christians are praying to become sick so that they can glory in it, and take pleasure in it? There is no glory in being sick. Most people who are sick are only too keen to get rid of it at any price. Some would give everything that they own to get rid of it, the woman with the issue of blood for example (Mark 5:25-26), but what attitude are we supposed to have towards persecution?
(Matthew 5:11-12) "Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner
of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
(Acts 5:41) "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name."
(James 1:2) "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various temptations1;"
(James 1:12) "Blessed is the man that endures temptation1:"
(1 Peter 3:14) "And if you suffer for righteousness sake, happy are you:"
(1 Peter 4:12-14) "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial1 which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.
If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the spirit of glory and God rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."
(1 Peter 4:16) "if any man suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf."
Notice that a man gets blessed when he is persecuted (Matthew 5:11), and also gets blessed when he endures temptation (James 1:12 KJV). The Greek word translated temptation1 (Gtr. peirasmos) is also translated temptations1 (James 1:2 KJV), and trial1 (1 Peter 4:12 KJV), where we are told to "count it all joy", and "rejoice". This is the same word which was used when Paul talked about "my temptation which was in my flesh" (Galatians 4:14 KJV), referring to his "thorn", and " temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:" (Acts 20:19 KJV). This confirms again that his "thorn" refers to the trials and temptations, which came through persecutions, not sickness. These scriptures all show that the scriptural attitude towards persecution is to rejoice, be happy, and to glorify God, which was exactly Paul's attitude towards his "thorn", confirming again that his "thorn in the flesh" was people persecuting him, and not a sickness.
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