What was Paul's thorn?

Diamond7

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The first one doesn't match this scenario.
How does it not fit. He was completely blind and could not see for three days. Could be there was some residual damage when he did get his eye sight back.
it is possible that the thorn was a physical ailment. I'm not precluding that. I don't think it's likely, but it's possible.
If all he had was one ailment he was better off then a lot of people. Of course we assume he could get his prayers answered and this is a condition that he prayed about and did not get delivered and God told him why. I think this is designed so people could relate no matter what their "thorn" is.
 
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ByTheSpirit

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How does it not fit. He was completely blind and could not see for three days. Could be there was some residual damage when he did get his eye sight back.
It was the Lord who blinded Paul, and it was the Holy Spirit that gave Paul his eyesight back. When Jesus heals people they are always healed completely in scripture no? I don't remember any blind people remaining partially blind after encountering Jesus. In fact, there's one story where Jesus ministered to a blind man who at first could see, but only partially, and Jesus ministered to him again and the man's eyesight was fully restored, so as stated, I just don't see that as possible.

I think this is designed so people could relate no matter what their "thorn" is.
This is true, there's a universally applicable truth in this narrative, that God will tell us no at times and it's not because He doesn't care, it's to get us to trust in Him and His grace. But I still feel it's important to know exactly what is going on.

As stated in my OP, I feel the text (and appropriate context) is abundantly clear on what Paul was encountering.
 
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Bobber

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There are three Bible references that Paul had a problem with his eyes.

Acts 9:8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.
What do you mean by quoting that? Ananias came to Paul after three days Acts 9: 12 and layed his hands on him and his eyes were healed. That happened again just a few day after he became saved.
Galatians 4:15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.
Merely just a colloquial expression he was using just like we say today you would give your right arm if you could to help. Doesn't mean the other has an arm problem.
 
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eleos1954

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Some say it was a sickness. Others will say it was an injury. There's a lot of views on what Paul's thorn in the flesh was, usually it's made out to be something that helps fit whatever narrative is being discussed at the time. But what does the text say and how can we use that to strengthen our own walk with Jesus?

So to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Corinthians 12:7 (BSB)

To keep Paul from becoming conceited, Paul was given a messenger of Satan...

My understanding is it wasn't some sickness, but rather a demon, or rather a demonic messenger, who was tormenting Paul about his past. Not that Paul had a demon, don't misunderstand me, but it was a demonic messenger that was using Paul's past to try and bring him down. And oddly enough, what Satan meant for harm, Jesus used for good. The message weakened Paul to the point where he learned to say through the Holy Spirit, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

We know from other passages of scripture that Paul's past is something that he frequently used to illustrate just how gracious and forgiving God is.

If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to righteousness in the law, faultless. Philippians 3:4-6 (BSB)

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13 (BSB)

For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how severely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. Galatians 1:13-14 (BSB)

I could go on, but there's a bunch and we get the point.

I believe the thorn in Paul's flesh was a demonic messenger that Jesus allowed to persist with Paul to keep him humble. To remind Paul of where he came from so that Paul wouldn't become conceited with pride.

So how can we use that information in our own lives? I know me personally I struggle quite a bit with things I've done in the past, and how I believe those acts are still affecting me and those I love in the present. It hurts quite a bit truthfully, and while I can't change what I've done, I can learn to say, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

Those thoughts, those emotions, should lead me to run headlong towards the arms of Jesus. Finding grace and comfort in the presence of my Savior, who has forgiven me.

So allow me to encourage you, wherever you may be. That when thoughts or feelings of the past come around, a messenger of Satan. Use what is meant for harm for good. Those thoughts and feelings did not come from God, do not allow yourself to be condemned from something God has forgiven you for!

Let your past and the things that God has forgiven you from lead you into the arms of the Lord and find "grace to help in your time of need"! (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Different ideas about this of course .... but .... I think Paul's thorn in the flesh is Paul struggling with sin .... like Paul we all do this .... and it is indeed a thorn in our flesh.
 
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ByTheSpirit

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Different ideas about this of course .... but .... I think Paul's thorn in the flesh is Paul struggling with sin .... like Paul we all do this .... and it is indeed a thorn in our flesh.
I'm not sure of the implications of that, where Jesus uses sin.

As stated in my OP, I can see how Jesus used the reminder of Paul's past sins, but to me (emphasis on that) I don't think it's a current ongoing sin.

Again, that almost makes it out that God uses sin and I just don't see that as a possibility.

So past sin, sure, current sin, maybe not.
 
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eleos1954

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I'm not sure of the implications of that, where Jesus uses sin.

As stated in my OP, I can see how Jesus used the reminder of Paul's past sins, but to me (emphasis on that) I don't think it's a current ongoing sin.

Again, that almost makes it out that God uses sin and I just don't see that as a possibility.

So past sin, sure, current sin, maybe not.
God permitted to satan to tempt Paul in the flesh, that is, through his desires of the flesh.

God doesn't tempt us but God allows satan to tempt us. God allows satans Temptation is a test.

Jesus was tempted by the devil to abandon the mission God had given Him — and God allowed that test to happen.
 
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Diamond7

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When Jesus heals people they are always healed completely in scripture no?
Paul was not completely healed and he tells us why. In Luke 17 only one gave Glory to God and he was made whole. (KJV)

Luke 17:11-19 (New International Version): "Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?' Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?' Then he said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well.'"
 
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DragonFox91

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There's no way for anyone to know for certain, but I feel the context, as well as other passages like 1 Corinthians 15:9, Galatians 1:13, Philippians 3:4-14, 1 Timothy 1:15, indicates this to be a psychological deal that Paul was battling. A constant reminder of his past and the sufficiency of Christ to see him through.

Now yes it could be a physical ailment, I just don't see how a physical ailment could keep someone from pride and conceit as the text indicates.
I was thinking the same thing the other day. How his past would've eaten away at him. How other believers would've been hostile to him in return. How there would've been guilt.
Paul frequently uses 'flesh' to refer to our fight w/ sin: the bodies desire to sin, your natural state. Why should I assume when he says 'thorn in flesh' it's a physical ailment when for letters & letters, flesh has never referred to just the physical body.

Perhaps he got a physical ailment while during his hostile past, & so the 'thorn in the flesh' is a physical ailment that resulted directly from his past; it wouldn't have happened if what he had been doing was different.
There's a correlation in the Old Testament: When Jacob wrestles w/ God as a result of his ungodliness, God breaks Jacob's leg.

I find eye struggles too petty for Paul to whine about.
 
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Diamond7

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I find eye struggles too petty for Paul to whine about.
The eye problem was associated with his persecution of the Church. People even doctors do not understand the autonomic nervous system.

One example is the fight, flee or freeze syndrome. In a school shooting usually anything that moves is a target. So the best way to survive is to drop, and not move. The Vegas nerve controls the body so it is very easy for psychological issues to result on physical ailments.

When light hits the retina (a light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye), special cells called photoreceptors turn the light into electrical signals. These electrical signals travel from the retina through the optic nerve to the brain. Then the brain turns the signals into the images you see.
 
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Francis Drake

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I am perplexed.
Everyone seems to be debating what Paul's thorn in the flesh was when it states quite clearly it was a messenger of Satan.
In other words it was a demon, not a thing, not a symptom, but a personality of evil from the enemy, and it attacked his flesh, his physical frame.

The various previous answers above are all the possible results of that demon's attack, not the thorn/demon itself.

The one thing completely missed though is the Old Testament connection.
Paul was an arch theologian and never missed an opportunity to cross refer if you are observant,

I believe he was referring to several OT passages, notable Judges2v3

3Therefore I also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods shall [c]be a snare to you.’ ”

Josh23v13 know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations from before you. But they shall be snares and traps to you, and scourges on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from this good land which the LORD your God has given you.

NKJV 55But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell.

I do not see how we can ignore the OT link, typical of Paul.
So what does it mean?

8Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Three times Paul cried out to the Lord to remove it, but as we know from the OT, it was the duty of the Israelites, empowered by the Lord, to remove the enemies of Israel, and the minute they put their feet up, the Lord ceased helping them.

Translated for Paul's Thorn, it was Paul himself that had to pull that thorn out, (deliverance) under the grace, or empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise it is we who must drive out the inhabitants of our land. We cannot ask God to do what He has commanded us to do.
 
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biblelesson

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Some say it was a sickness. Others will say it was an injury. There's a lot of views on what Paul's thorn in the flesh was, usually it's made out to be something that helps fit whatever narrative is being discussed at the time. But what does the text say and how can we use that to strengthen our own walk with Jesus?

So to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Corinthians 12:7 (BSB)

To keep Paul from becoming conceited, Paul was given a messenger of Satan...

My understanding is it wasn't some sickness, but rather a demon, or rather a demonic messenger, who was tormenting Paul about his past. Not that Paul had a demon, don't misunderstand me, but it was a demonic messenger that was using Paul's past to try and bring him down. And oddly enough, what Satan meant for harm, Jesus used for good. The message weakened Paul to the point where he learned to say through the Holy Spirit, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

We know from other passages of scripture that Paul's past is something that he frequently used to illustrate just how gracious and forgiving God is.

If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, persecuting the church; as to righteousness in the law, faultless. Philippians 3:4-6 (BSB)

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13 (BSB)

For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how severely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. Galatians 1:13-14 (BSB)

I could go on, but there's a bunch and we get the point.

I believe the thorn in Paul's flesh was a demonic messenger that Jesus allowed to persist with Paul to keep him humble. To remind Paul of where he came from so that Paul wouldn't become conceited with pride.

So how can we use that information in our own lives? I know me personally I struggle quite a bit with things I've done in the past, and how I believe those acts are still affecting me and those I love in the present. It hurts quite a bit truthfully, and while I can't change what I've done, I can learn to say, "When I am weak, then I am strong."

Those thoughts, those emotions, should lead me to run headlong towards the arms of Jesus. Finding grace and comfort in the presence of my Savior, who has forgiven me.

So allow me to encourage you, wherever you may be. That when thoughts or feelings of the past come around, a messenger of Satan. Use what is meant for harm for good. Those thoughts and feelings did not come from God, do not allow yourself to be condemned from something God has forgiven you for!

Let your past and the things that God has forgiven you from lead you into the arms of the Lord and find "grace to help in your time of need"! (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Another important thing that took place is what the Lord told Paul, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness...” 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV.

Paul is given strength in his weakness, and the meaning of 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV, also correlates with 2 Corinthians 4:11 KJV.

Because people don’t understand 2 Corinthians 12:9 KJV, they use this verse to say God said “no” to Paul’s request. So they try and tell people God sometimes will say no to your prayer request, which is unbiblical.

What the Lord was actually saying to Paul is “yes” - but by His grace. Paul is given strength to overcome in his weakness, a lesson of grace he had to learn. Which is a lesson for all of us to learn.

And to prove this, Paul wrote 2 Corinthians in 57 AD. But he told Timothy that God saved him out of all his troubles, in 2 Timothy 3:11 KJV, which was written in 66-67 AD. So how many years later was that? At least 10 years later.

People are not considering the events that’s happening (the Acts of the apostles) while Paul is writing his epistles. The thorn in his side is found in Acts.

Another proof that the Lord was not saying “no” to Paul is found in Romans 16:20 KJV. By God’s grace, the same grace that the Lord said was sufficient in Paul’s weakness, will crush Satan under our feet - in our weakness.
 
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The concept of a "thorn in the flesh," I believe, comes from Judges 2:3.

Judges 2:3 RV
3 Wherefore 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 unto you.

Because the land's inhabitants would not be driven out, they became a constant bother to the Jews.
So with Paul the "thorn in his flesh" was a demonic spirit that constantly stirred up trouble for him.
 
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SavedByGrace3

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I am perplexed.
Everyone seems to be debating what Paul's thorn in the flesh was when it states quite clearly it was a messenger of Satan.
People are desperate to refute the truth that "healing is included in the atonement," so they twist the passage to say Paul had a sickness in his eyes. You are correct. The passage tells us exactly what it was. It was a message (Gk angel) from satan.

2 Corinthians 12:8 KJV
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.

Several Greek commentators use the word "he" rather than "it."

Robertson's Word Pictures
That it might depart from me (hina apostēi aph' emou).
Second aorist active (intransitive) subjunctive of aphistēmi in final clause,
“that he stand off from me for good.”

John GIll
that it, or rather, "he might"

JFB Commentary
The thorn seems (from 2Co_12:9, and Greek, 2Co_12:7, “that he may buffet me”)
 
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biblelesson

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All Christians like Paul has a messenger from Satan. We suffer for Christ sake, Philippians 1:29 KJV, Hebrews 12:7 KJV, 1 Peter 5:10 KJV, 2 Timothy 2:12 KJV, James 1:2-3 KJV, 1 Peter 4:12-13 KJV,

Paul suffered trouble from a messenger from Satan, but God, by his grace, He put Satan under his feet. Gods sends this same messenger from Satan in the Christian life. This is why Paul tells us in Romans that God will bruise Satan under our feet shortly, and prays that the grace of God be with us, Romans 16:20 KJV.

After we have suffer for a little while, like Paul, God strengthens us and makes us perfect, 1 Peter 5:10 KJV.

This suffering is not a walk in the park. God puts his children through the furnace of fire, Isaiah 48:10 KJV, 1 Peter 1:7 KJV, 1 Corinthians 3:13 KJV, James 5:10-11 KJV, that after the refining period, they be as pure gold.
 
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In the context (2 Cor. 10-12) Paul is embarrassed by the need he feels for some defensive boasting to counter the criticisms of his rivals at Corinth whom he sarcastically dubs the "super-apostles (11:5)." His "thorn" is not his flesh (the sphere of sin) but "in the flesh," that is, his bodily "weakness" that makes him self-conscious and a target for his rivals' criticism:
.
"For they say, "His letters are strong and weighty but HIS BODILY PRESENCE IS WEAK and his speech is contemptible (10:10)."

Paul probably has a speech impediment and may well have a stuttering problem. Beyond that, what might be "weak" about his "bodily presence?"
In Galatians he provides 2 hints that he has a vision problem, perhaps as a result of all the beatings he has endured:
In itself his reference to the huge letters he writes in his epistles might be construed as a reference to his writing style (6:11). But a vision problem obvious to all who see him in action seems more likely by what he laments in 4:15:

"For I testify that had it been possible, you would have torn out your own eyes and given them to me."
 
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biblelesson

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In the context (2 Cor. 10-12) Paul is embarrassed by the need he feels for some defensive boasting to counter the criticisms of his rivals at Corinth whom he sarcastically dubs the "super-apostles (11:5)." His "thorn" is not his flesh (the sphere of sin) but "in the flesh," that is, his bodily "weakness" that makes him self-conscious and a target for his rivals' criticism:
.
"For they say, "His letters are strong and weighty but HIS BODILY PRESENCE IS WEAK and his speech is contemptible (10:10)."

Paul probably has a speech impediment and may well have a stuttering problem. Beyond that, what might be "weak" about his "bodily presence?"
In Galatians he provides 2 hints that he has a vision problem, perhaps as a result of all the beatings he has endured:
In itself his reference to the huge letters he writes in his epistles might be construed as a reference to his writing style (6:11). But a vision problem obvious to all who see him in action seems more likely by what he laments in 4:15:

"For I testify that had it been possible, you would have torn out your own eyes and given them to me."
The verse in Galatians 4:15 KJV, Paul was quoting what Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 18:9 KJV. It has nothing to do with Paul’s eyes.

Paul was telling the Galatians that before they were influenced by the Jews to turn them away from the gospel, there commitment was to the point of plucking out their own eye if they offended.
 
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Ceallaigh

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I think the cause of Paul's thorn was intentionally left blank to be filled in by the reader. Meaning most of us probably have our own thorn. And the cause isn't as important as the effect. Meaning how it deals with us and how we deal with it is what's essential.
 
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I think the cause of Paul's thorn was intentionally left blank to be filled in by the reader. Meaning most of us probably have our own thorn. And the cause isn't as important as the effect. Meaning how it deals with us and how we deal with it is what's essential.
we do ...
 
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The verse in Galatians 4:15 KJV, Paul was quoting what Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 18:9 KJV. It has nothing to do with Paul’s eyes.
First, you ignore the decisive context of Paul's "weakness" ("thorn"), the "super-apostels'"criticism of Paul's "weak bodily presence" and "contemptible speech" (10:10).
Second, you ignore the context of Galatians 4:15, the need for the Galatians to care for Paul's physical infirmity.
Third, Paul is metaphorically referring to receiving new eyes from the Galatians to compensate for his poor vision. Matthew 18:9 is metaphorically referring to ripping out eyes corrupted by lust. S0 Paul is not quoting Jesus. In any case, when Paul does allude to a saying of Jesus in the Corinthian correspondence (see 1 Cor. 7:10; 9:14; 11:23), he always explicitly acknowledges tha t fact---something he does not do in Galatians 4
 
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biblelesson

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First, you ignore the decisive context of Paul's "weakness" ("thorn"), the "super-apostels'"criticism of Paul's "weak bodily presence" and "contemptible speech" (10:10).
Second, you ignore the context of Galatians 4:15, the need for the Galatians to care for Paul's physical infirmity.
Third, Paul is metaphorically referring to receiving new eyes from the Galatians to compensate for his poor vision. Matthew 18:9 is metaphorically referring to ripping out eyes corrupted by lust. S0 Paul is not quoting Jesus. In any case, when Paul does allude to a saying of Jesus in the Corinthian correspondence (see 1 Cor. 7:10; 9:14; 11:23), he always explicitly acknowledges tha t fact---something he does not do in Galatians 4
2 Corinthians 10:10 KJV, says nothing about Paul having eye problems. It says “his bodily presence is weak, and speech contemptible.”

There is nothing in Galatians 4:15 KJV, that shows a need for the Galatians to care for Paul’s eyes.

Are you really reading these scriptures? Paul is asking the Galatians in Galatians 4:15 KJV, where is the blessedness of the gospel they spoke of when they first received it? He asks this question after he tells them they have been bewitched by those who are convincing them to go back to the law for salvation instead if grace, Galatians 3:1-5 KJV.

The concept of a "thorn in the flesh," I believe, comes from Judges 2:3.

Now considering all of what Paul went through was indeed a thorn in his flesh as described in Judges 2:3 KJV:

These are just a few:
1) The Jews plotted to kill him, Acts 23:14-15 KJV.
2) He was beaten and thrown in prison for casting out a spirit of divination, Acts 16:16-24 KJV (injury to the flesh)
3) The Israelites wanted to kill him, Acts 21:27-31 KJV
4) The High Priest commanded that Paul be hit In mouth, Acts 23:2 KJV (injury to the flesh)
5) Bitten by a snake, Acts 28:3 KJV (injury to the flesh)
6) Paul was stoned, Acts 14:19 KJV (injury to the flesh)
7) He received 40 lashes 5 times, 2 Corinthians 11:24 KJV (injury to the flesh)

So, if “a thorn” is what Judges 2:3 KJV, describes as a people that will be a snare to another people or nation, then It’s more than likely Paul’s “thorn” was the persecution he suffered for the gospel, from the Jews, the Israelites, the High Priest, the Rulers, thus causing him some sort of weakness in his body from the pressure and even injuries he suffered from the constant attacks he suffered for many years.
 
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