Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Paul's Thorn, Part 1

And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And 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. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.-2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV)

Recently I shared something about healing and the issue of Paul's thorn came up. That seems to be something that always comes up because people have questions and they need peace. I know in my own life I have had questions about things, mostly related to my own insecurities, and I think that Paul's thorn is one of those things that makes people feel insecure in their faith.

I really believe that if we want to know the answers to questions, God wants to help us with it, especially if it is found in His Word, and through study and research, we can uncover what He has told us already.

This morning I spent some time study the passage of scripture related to Paul's thorn. I did not study everything that was possible to study surrounding it yet. There is a lot to explore.

When doing Bible interpretation, there are quite a few things the reader needs to consider, especially with obscure passages such as this.

We need to consider:

1. Context in the scripture that it was written, or what the words say around it.

2. We need to consider the entire chapter in which it was written, and the chapters around it.

3. We need to consider the entire book or epistle in which it was written.

4. We need to consider who wrote it, and the rest of what they have written.

5. We need to consider the Bible as a whole.

Other things that benefit when doing Bible interpretation are:

1. Did this event/scripture take place before or after The Cross? Because The Cross changed everything.

2. What is the character and nature of God? How do we see God through Jesus? Jesus is the exact representation of God.

3. What do confusing words mean in the original language? The Bible was written in Hebrew and Greek, and there have been many different translations based on the original language. The translators have often used words that mean the same thing, but don't really express the original word in its context correctly.

4. Where can we find those confusing words in the original language in other scriptures? How were they used there?

As I am writing, trying to explain this passage, these are things I have taken into consideration. I will not be talking about everything about the passage of scripture. I am just going to touch on a few points to hopefully bring comfort and reassurance to people who struggle with this passage. I have written 400 words in this post already.

So, here we go.

I have a Bible that contains 8 translations side by side. So I read several of the translations of this passage of scripture. In verse 8, the translators translated the phrase "depart from me", as "leave me", "take this problem away" "make this suffering go away" "take it away" "begged God to remove it". The most accurate of those translations is "depart from me" in this context.

The Greek Word there is "aphistemi", number 868 in the Strong's Concordance. You can find this word in many other scriptures in the New Testament. Definitions include: "to stand off, or aloof, or to depart from anyone" in Luke 4:13, Luke 13:27, Acts 5:38, "to refrain from " in Acts 12:10; Acts 15:38; Acts 19:9; Acts 22:29; and in 2 Corinthians 12:8.

I am going to share all of these scriptures so you can look at what it looks like in relation to that word.

Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.-Luke 4:13

But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’-Luke 13:27

And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; Acts 5:38

When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him.-Acts 12:10

But Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work.-Acts 15:38

But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.-Acts 19:9

Then immediately those who were about to examine him withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.-Acts 22:29

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.-2 Corinthians 12:8

Now, you can see that this word depart in its meaning, and where it used in other verses, all has to do with people or Satan, or in 2 Corinthians 12:8 , a messenger of Satan leaving. It always seems to function in the context of a person or being leaving.

There's a lot more to talk about, so stay turned for Part 2.

*Sources I used for this part of the Bible Study are Strong's Concordance, Biblehub.com, and The Contemporary Parallel New Testament.

*All Scriptures were taken from the New King James Version of the Bible.

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