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What was Paul's 'thorn in the flesh'? (2 Cor. 12:7)

#1DarkContractorPosted 11/11/2013 5:55:23 PM
I thought it'd be nice to have a discussion on the often debated interpretations of a verse without it dividing things into the usual christian vs non christian debate.

I was having a discussion on it elsewhere, and posted my thoughts. What do y'all think?

On the subject of 2 Cor. 12:7, My understanding on an "angelos" of Satan is that of an actualized person. the word is often used to describe a singular messenger or errandboy angel of God and is at one pointed affixed as an adjective noun to Gabriel. Therefore, I conclude that this bit would be a particular individual. of Satan, I concur with Pagel's view, that of during the Markan period of the Gospel (which would coincide with that of this letter), Satan was a way to demonify the enemy. It was a mudsling against your position, an 'us vs them' mentality that deepened the wound of schisms. So, I would say we have a messenger of the Roman Empire. The word for thorn is skolops, which literally means a thorn or a spear unless the context gives away otherwise. skolops te sarki has zero parallel of it being a figure of speech of any kind. I therefore conclude that we are quite literally looking at a spear or thorn to the flesh. A thorn sounds like a rather feeble attack, and spear goes a lot more with the idea of being crucified with Christ. Paul was brutally tortured in just the chapter before, but didn't seem to be anymore discontent with torture than he usually is. Yet, here, this 'thorn' is of great concern, hence him begging God to be spared, and I think we can take it as a self-evident point that death would be a lot more alarming than mere torture for most. This would certainly interrupt his boasting, he would quite literally be silenced. Yet damaging to this theory is that he speaks as though he expects to return to Corinth! However, notice at the beginning of chapter 13, that he quotes the Deuteronomy court proceeding. The context establishes that Paul has given them a warning and what is to come will be justified. Yet he speaks as though when he comes again it will be too late. (See 12:21). Why would it be too late? Well, Paul spoke of himself as being invested with authority (13:10) and says the saints will judge the world (1 Cor. 6). This speaks to me as the resurrection of the saints who then will judge the human race.

I also have an alternate theory, that Paul would be temporarily excommunicated, which also makes sense of the idea that he would seem to be guessing rather than knowing what to expect when he returns. 1 Cor. 5 acts as a nice parallel, where Paul demands that the man living with his father's wife be handed over to Satan for destruction of the flesh. Here, Paul describes himself as absent in body but present in spirit. Then he warns against boasters and all evil doers and says to drive them out and not associate with them at all. Thus, excommunication.
#2IamvegitoPosted 11/11/2013 6:45:26 PM
Malarial fever. Tarsus was practically a breeding ground for it at the time.

There's a connection between the "thorn" and ecstatic visions, if you go back to the beginning of the chapter you cited. Also note the "physical infirmity" of Galatians 4:13-15.

William Mitchell Ramsay, in St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, describes the particular chronic malarial fever as one which

tends to occur in very distressing and prostrating paroxysms, whenever one's energies are taxed for a great effort. Such an attack is for the time absolutely incapacitating: the sufferer can only lie and feel himself a shaking and helpless weakling, when he ought to be at work. He feels a contempt and loathing for self, and believes that others feel equal contempt and loathing.


This fits with the Wikipedia entry for the signs and symptoms of the disease.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria#Signs_and_symptoms
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"A day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you'll know the debt is paid."