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In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul references a thorn was given to him in the flesh:

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.

Does anyone have any insight on what this might be? Also, I am unsure as to why he was given this?

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Also asked on BH SE. – Wikis Aug 26 '14 at 12:58
up vote 9 down vote accepted

There are many theories, including:

  • a demon, since Paul says it was a "messenger of Satan"
  • a physical affliction: "incessant temptation, dogged opponents, chronic maladies (such as eye problems, malaria, migraine headaches, and epilepsy), to a speech disability"
  • false teachers

(My personal theory is that it was his eyesight; but the majority of experts do not agree!)

We simply don't know for sure.

As for why, that's in the verse you quoted, to keep Paul "from becoming conceited".

We're all subject to pride and Paul, as a great leader in a new movement and chosen by Jesus Himself had reason (in man's eyes) to be conceited (he even said so himself). This "thorn" was apparently to prevent that, so that his work could continue without anyone being able to find fault with him.

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I think the "speech impediment" has some good credence based on 2 Cor 10:10 ( .. but that's all conjecture :) – warren Jul 1 '14 at 14:47

As the SPIRIT explains the Word by the Word,let us look at the "thorns", which is an O.T. metaphor for Israel's Enemies. See Num.33:55,"thorns in your sides". Eze.2:6,"thorns are all around you".Eze.28:24,"sharp thorns,Israel's malicious neighbours.I believe these (the super-apostles, the Judaizers)are a thorn in Pauls's flesh, Paul's enemies as far as the Gospel is concerned.Also there is a mention of thorns in Mark 4:7, seed falling among the thorns,which grew up and choked the plants,so that they did not bear Fruit.Shadows of the O.T.given light in the New.GOD Bless, Jesse.

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Welcome to the site. As you're a new visitor, I'd like to recommend the following posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page, How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? – David Jan 13 '14 at 13:13

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