Leadership in Context Episode 129 Show Notes
Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh
Leadership in Context with Keith Tucci
Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh: What was it and what wasn’t it
2 Corinthians 12:7
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself!
What is the thorn? The only thing we know about this thorn in the flesh is what is said in this verse here. It doesn’t say it was physical sickness. We will have to expand the content and look at the other things he said to help us understand what this might be.
Why was it given to him? It wasn’t to keep him humble; it doesn’t say that. It was given to him to keep him from exalting himself or expanding himself. I believe he was talking about his ministry growing.
Where did he get this revelation? The first 6 verses says it came from God. God caught him up and gave him an incredible revelation. In verse 7, there is no doubt where the thorn came from. The thorn in the flesh was a messenger of Satan.
Would God send the devil to silence you? There are people who actually teach that. But the Bible says that a house divided against itself will fall. Jesus spoke that concerning the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that if you ask for bread, He doesn’t give you a stone. We know that that is not the character of God. This is a lesson on hermeneutics. We need to look at the text. God would not give you a revelation and then oppress you from sharing that revelation.
1 Corinthians 12:8-9
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
What did God say? Paul is being suppressed by the enemy, and he is crying out for relief. God responded with, “My grace is sufficient for you.” God didn’t say “no” to Paul’s request. He said that He had already given Paul all that he needed. Isn’t that what grace is? Grace is divine power. Paul was crying out for deliverance, and God reminded him of the grace, the strength He had already given to Paul. This is the same message He gives to us for our lives. God gives us power to face opposition, even when it’s like a thorn in the flesh to us.
1 Corinthians 12:10a
Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions…
What is the thorn? Weakness, insults, distress, and persecution.
1 Corinthians 12:10b
…with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
When God said to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you,” Paul’s conclusion was, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” God’s grace comes to us and sustains us when we are weak. In our weakness, we become strong. Attacks show us how weak we are and make us dependent upon Christ's strength.
Thorns in the flesh—persecution, distresses, insults, speculations, things that we just wish would go away or stop—will come. This is part of the Christian life. Those who serve God and live well will suffer persecution. That’s not just a prediction; that’s a promise. But God responds, “My grace is sufficient. You can handle this.”
Join us next week as Keith Tucci continues to put leadership truth in the context of the local church. And as always, please like, share, rate/review, and invite others to listen. See you next week!