2 Corinthians 12:7 - So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations a thorn was given me in the flesh, a
messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.

I always heard about Paul's thorn when I was a young girl in church, but I never read for myself the exact passage, which notes that the thorn was given to Paul to prevent him from becoming conceited, a fact that I didn't know. Who is this "messenger from Satan?" Is he a literal messenger, or is his to be taken figuratively? Exactly what was the thorn in Paul's flesh, and why didn't Paul specifically state what that thorn was?
One commonly believed theory is that Paul's thorn was a physical ailment. Among the many sicknesses listed are malaria, Malta fever, epilepsy, convulsive attacks, and chronic ophthalmia; but this source gives many reasons why his problem may be poor eyesight. Paul allowed someone else, like Tertius in Romans, to do the actual writing of at least some of his epistles. Sometimes Paul would even add one handwritten verse as a salutation, like 1 Corinthians 16:21. As it was noted in Galatians, Paul even wrote in large print. Another evidence of poor vision can be found in Galatians 4:13 when Paul says that because of physical infirmity, he preached the gospel to the Galatians at the first. Some have speculated that the physical infirmity was a disease which affected his eyesight and the higher altitude in Galatia would have been better for him, especially if the disease was malaria. Only two verses later (Galatians 4:15) Paul states that the Galatian church would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him if it were possible.

However, a second source says that Paul suffered no illness whatsoever. Although the words "weakness" and "infirmity" are commonly accepted to mean sickness, this does not mean that there is any evidence that Paul's thorn was a disease. In fact, Paul uses the exact terminology of "glorying in infirmities" that is used in speaking about this thorn. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-29, he lists what those infirmities were: imprisonment, stripes, shipwrecks, and stonings; none of these speak of sickness.  Paul also speaks of his weakness and painfulness in verse 27, which some try to link with sickness, but it is just as possible that Paul was referring to his being weary and his painful experience of being stoned and left for dead. Because these examples thwart the theory of sickness and confirm Paul's persecution, one guess is that the thorn was a literal messenger of Satan who was sent to constantly stir up persecution against Paul. This source prefers to take the words in our passage literally when it states, "...a messenger of Satan to harass me." This theory is also verified by three Old Testament references (Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13 and Judg. 2:3), where people are spoken of as being "thorns in your sides" and "thorns in your eyes."

Lastly, another speculation is that a demon was sent to incite or trigger some fleshly sin that Paul had, which he knew was wrong but which his mind constantly had to fight to overcome. Paul did ask the Lord to take the thorn away from him three times (2 Corinthians 12:8) so he wouldn't have to struggle with it anymore. We have also read where Paul said that the things he should do, he doesn't do, and the things he shouldn't do, he does (Romans 7:15).

Additional ideas about the thorn are impiety, Paul's inability to preach to the Jews, temptation of unbelief, Paul's temper, a person who opposed Paul's ministry, and even homosexual desires.
Maybe the thorn was Spongebob, and Paul had had enough of his nautical nonsense. He's certainly annoying enough to make one plead with God; but I digress. All in all, I don't feel comfortable settling on one theory since there are so many available, yet none have enough proof to support one idea. I think that maybe Paul struggled with himself, battling against his head and his heart. However, Paul never explicitly states what this thorn was, and to me, there is no solid evidence to uphold one speculation.

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