Thursday, March 14, 2019

Paul's Thorn Part 2: The Messenger

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

I started writing this series about Paul's thorn because it is always an issue that comes up in response to healing. Many people believe the thorn was sickness, and use this passage to try and explain why some people don't get healed. My purpose in writing is to pull up the weeds surrounding this scripture.

In Part 1, I shared a little bit about Bible interpretation, because that is important when examining passages of scripture that might be difficult to understand. I also explored the word, "depart" that is found in verse 8 of this passage of scripture. You can read that introductory post here.

For the second part of this study, I decided to examine the word "messenger." When, I was reading this passage, this was a word that seemed to stand out to me, so it thought it would be good to investigate it.

In verse 7 of 2 Corinthians 12, the thorn is described as a "messenger" of Satan. That word messenger is the Greek word "aggelos," or "angelos" which means angel. Angelos is the phonetic spelling. The word is found 176 times in the New Testament.

According to Strong's Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words, angelos is a messenger sent by God or by man or by Satan. Angels are most seen throughout scripture delivering messages to people. They are also seen working as guardians or representatives. The word angelos most frequently refers to an order of created beings.

There are only 3 angels named in the Bible: Michael, Gabriel, and Lucifer. Lucifer was the angel that we now know is Satan. Satan was an angel that was kicked out of heaven.

Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 10:18,

    I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. (Berean Study Bible)

We know because of other writers in the New Testament that other angels went with Satan when he fell. See Jude 1:6, 2 Peter 2:4, Genesis 6:2, Matthew 24:41, and Revelation 12:7.

In Chapter 11 of 2 Corinthians, the chapter before the one we are talking about, Paul mentions Satan transforming himself into an angel of light, as also do his ministers.

And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 (NIV)

This might give us a clue as to who/what the messenger is that Paul refers to as the thorn. It could potentially have been a false prophet, manifesting in human form, or it could have been the spiritual form, that we cannot see, following him around.

Nowhere in scripture is the word messenger ever translated as sickness.

A messenger is sent to bring a message. And the message this messenger was sent was causing pain. The Bible says the messenger was sent to buffet or torment Paul. This behavior is not conducive with the character of God, but of the enemy.

In John 10:10, Jesus said,

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness. (Berean Study Bible)

My plan for part 3 is to write about what God said to Paul as the solution to his problem, unless the Lord directs me to talk about something else. There is a solution, and other New Testament writers have talked about it as well. Here's a hint to the answer: It's Jesus.

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