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Pauls Thorn in the Flesh and His Response

Jay Smith

TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction...1 The Larger Context Surrounding Paul's "thorn in the flesh"......2 Paul's Relationship with the Church at Corinth.......................2 Context of 2 Corinthians 11:1 - 12:13.....3 Various Theories and Approaches Offered: Temptations of Lust6 Various Theories and Approaches Offered: Demonic Oppression...7 Various Theories and Approaches Offered: Physical Infirmity....9 Paul's Response to Sufferings and Affliction....11 Practical Application for Believers.13 Conclusion....14 Bibliography.....15

1 Introduction Scholars have disputed over the various theories concerning Paul's "thorn in the flesh" therefore, I will explore each of these theories however; I submit that the more significant concern surrounds Paul's thoughts and response throughout this mysterious affliction. As interesting as it may be to know what Paul was dealing with specifically, it is far more useful to study Paul's response to this suffering as well as a wide scope of sufferings that every human being experiences in this vapor-like life. The Apostle's purpose of writing this section is not that we would know what exactly the thorn was but that we would know its purpose and how to respond well to our own "thorns" throughout our lives. The Apostle Paul's testimony is likely the most popular in the New Testament. Throughout history, readers of the Scriptures have been fascinated with the radical change of character in Paul's life. He begins in Acts chapter 9 as a menacing persecutor and turns to a loving and relentless Apostle. Being chosen by Jesus Christ to declare the gospel primarily to the Gentiles, Paul traveled and planted new churches while enduring suffering and also building his reputation among believers. He also wrote many letters, which were widely spread throughout these churches, thirteen of which were eventually included in the biblical canon. It is no doubt that all of this successful progress and recognition could cause one to become at least a tad conceited. This could have twisted and distorted the Apostle Paul's faith causing him to begin trusting in his own power and abilities rather than the all-powerful sovereignty and supremacy of Almighty God. To prevent this from occurring God intervened as the Apostle explains in his second letter to the Corinthians, "So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the

2 flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited" (12:7). The purpose of the "thorn" was to keep Paul "from becoming conceited" but what was this thorn? A myriad of theories have been presented. According to Walvoord, "Countless explanations concerning the nature of his thorn in the flesh have been offered. They range from incessant temptation, dogged opponents, chronic maladies (such as ophthalmia, malaria, migraine headaches, and epilepsy), to a disability in speech."1 The Larger Context Surrounding Paul's "thorn in the flesh" One cannot expect to gain a proper understanding of the "thorn in the flesh" mentioned in verse 7 without first examining Paul's relationship with the Corinthian church and the larger context of 2 Corinthians 11:1 - 12:13. Paul's Relationship with the Church at Corinth The church at Corinth was planted by Paul during his second missionary journey (Acts 18) in approximately 50-51 A.D. The city of Corinth had a reputation notorious for open sexual immorality. It is possibly for this reason that Paul explains to this church, "And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling" (1 Cor. 2:3). Yet through all of this carnal opposition, Paul preached the Gospel still. As Luke wrote in Acts 18:11, "And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them". It is obvious that after Paul left Corinth the believers there continued in or fell back into the immoral practices they were accustomed to. There was division among them and it was necessary for Paul to step back in to admonish them.

John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985). 2 Co 12:79.

3 As the Apostle Paul engaged the Corinthian church, he had begun to reprimand them, urge them to avoid false teachings, and to put off the sexual immorality. Paul had engaged them through several letters and at least one "painful" visit (2 Cor. 2:1) yet this proved to be unsuccessful. Paul went on to write a "severe" letter (2 Cor. 2:4-11), which is now lost, to shatter and awaken them to repentance. Paul received news from Titus that this letter was successful and that the church had repented. The Corinthian church was not only divided amongst themselves but they also had begun opposing the Apostle Paul. Moo writes, "The opponents are simultaneously divided against each other and, in some measure, opposed to Paul.2" His opponents had attempted to defend themselves by rejecting Paul's apostolic authority. Therefore, Paul writes 2 Corinthians 11:1 - 12:13 to engage his opponents at Corinth in order to defend is apostleship and to gain the following of the believers again. Context of 2 Corinthians 11:1 - 12:13 Paul begins this section by validating and defending his apostleship. Paul had already spent time defending his apostleship in 1 Corinthians 9:1, "Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord?" It is obvious that this was rejected by his Corinthian opponents. Thus, Paul goes on to explain more about his apostolic credentials. Mullins states, "the larger context of the epistle as a whole demands that

D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2005), 445.

4 the passage be interpreted as a reference to a personal enemy. The letter is saturated with a sense of conflict between Paul, a true apostle (12:12) and certain false apostles (11:13)."3 Paul began explaining his apostolic credentials but because his opponent thought of themselves as apostles and rejected Paul's, he had no choice but to boast of his own credentials. Paul referred to this, as Lea states, "fool's speech"4. Paul begins this section (vs 1) with that very thought in mind, "I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!" In 11:1-15, Paul urges the believers not to be fooled by those rejecting his apostleship. Paul confirms that he has true parental concern for them and thus the reason he states, "I preached Gods gospel to you free of charge" (vs 7). Paul was in need yet did not burden the church at Corinth for funding and promised not to in the future. Doing so would allow his opponents, who were burdening them with funding, to boast the same platform as Paul.5 Paul went on to boast more "fool's speech" in 11:16-33, about his extraordinary sufferings as an Apostle. One is reminded while reading through this section, the words of Christ to Ananias regarding Paul, "I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name" (Acts 9:16). It is rather fascinating to read Paul's experiences up to this point in his life: "Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless Mullins, Terence Y. 1957. "Paul's thorn in the flesh." Journal Of Biblical Literature 76, no. 4: 299-303. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 25, 2013). 301. Lea, Thomas D. and David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message. 3d ed. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2003. 424.
5 4 3

Ibid., 424

5 night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches." (2 Cor. 11:2428). The question that stands before the reader is "could a false-apostle endure this for the sake of a false gospel?" Paul thought not. Paul then arrives at a section (12:1-6) containing his vision of being "caught up to the third heaven" and hearing the divine utterances of God that he is unable to explain. Surely, Paul could boast about this and it would be undisputed and triumphant in likeness to anyone else's experiences. What could top this? Thus, Paul moves on to the next section (12:7) to explain why he does not go from city to city proclaiming and boasting in his own accomplishments (although he obviously could). He instead chooses to boast in his weaknesses and in the Gospel; "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). So why doesn't the Apostle Paul boast in himself? Paul explains: "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. Paul was given this "thorn in the flesh" ( ) and twice in this passage, he declares that its purpose was to keep him from becoming "conceited". We will look more closely at the various interpretations of this "thorn in the flesh" shortly in the next heading. This thorn so badly tormented Paul that three times he pleaded for the Lord to remove it from him: Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

6 This plea was denied three times. He then learned from God that this weakness exalts the power of Christ in his life and that His grace is enough to endure it. Paul goes on to declare that he is content with all forms of sufferings "weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities". Rather than these things making him weak, through his trusting Christ's power, they make him strong. Various Theories and Approaches Offered: Temptations of Lust One of the interpretations of Paul's "thorn in the flesh" is the claim that he was inflicted with the temptation of lust. Lightfoot claims that Aquinas, Bellarmine, Cornelius Lapide, Estius and most of the Roman Catholic writes adopted this view.6 This view however is not the most common as Price explains states, "A few have understood "flesh" in a less literal sense and so take Paul to mean some besetting sin or temptation."7 This theory views the sin of lust as the thorn mainly because of the interpretation of "sarx" () the Greek used in for thorn in the flesh. The word "sarx" allows for the usage of sinful and carnal nature in its semantic range as well as many other meanings.8 The word is used in this form in several places in the N.T. such as Matt. 26:41 by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to his Disciples, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh () is weak. Mullins, Terence Y. 1957. "Paul's thorn in the flesh." Journal Of Biblical Literature 76, no. 4: 299-303. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 25, 2013). 301. Price, Robert M. 1980. "Punished in paradise (An exegetical theory on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)." Journal For The Study Of The New Testament no. 7: 33-40. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 25, 2013). 36. William D. Mounce, Greek for the Rest of Us: Using Greek Tools Without Mastering Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007), xv
8 7 6

7 The proponents of this theory claim that Paul was wrestling with sinful sensual temptation. One can hardly deny that Paul, as does all mankind, struggled to avoid lustful temptation. Lightfoot writes, "It was surely something which we can realize, something thoughts which we have experienced in ourselves. Must he not have felt those ' u same carnal longings, by which we have been dogged in our solitude, and which rise up hydra-like with seven-fold force as we smite them down."9 Surely he too struggle at various times of his life with this lustful temptation. Throughout his epistles, he mentions the gravity of sinful depravity, not only in mankind, but the sin that dwelled inside him personally. In Romans 7:18-20 he declares, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." We can be sure that at times, Paul did struggle in this aspect but the question being raised is whether or not this is the "thorn in the flesh" Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 12:7. Price goes on to explain, "And though he did have to fight sensual temptation (I Corinthians 9:27), it is rather hard to see how he would have made the connection between any particular sin and his visionary experience. That the thorn was a sin is especially unlikely since the purpose of the thorn was to prevent him from indulging in sin, i. e., of pride."10 This theory does not appear to bear the most weight as Paul's thorn in the flesh.

J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. (BiblioLife, 2010), 186.

Price, Robert M. 1980. "Punished in paradise (An exegetical theory on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)." Journal For The Study Of The New Testament no. 7: 33-40. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 25, 2013). 36.

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8 Various Theories and Approaches Offered: Demonic Oppression Other interpretations assert that the "thorn in the flesh" was a Demonic Oppression. Did Paul suffer from Oppression? After all, in verse seven Paul states, "a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited." Paul does describe the thorn in connection with "a messenger of Satan". The proponents of this theory identify the thorn as a demon. According to John MacArthur, "Paul's use of the word messenger (Greek, angelos, or angel) from Satan suggests the "thorn in the flesh" (lit. "a stake for the flesh") was a demonized person, not a physical illness this angel was from Satan, a demon afflicting Paul."11 Mullins suggests that Paul's struggle was against a person and not necessarily an event by the usage of the wording .12 It is obvious from Scripture that Paul did often interact with demonic oppressions during his ministry such as the account in Acts 16:16-18 where Paul cast a demon out of a young girl who harassed him. Also, it is apparent that Satan and his demons were aware of Paul and his ministry, "But the evil spirit answered them, Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you? (Acts 19:15). Nevertheless, Paul taught often on the topic of spiritual warfare and he declared, "In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one" (Eph. 16:16). He also writes in 2 Corinthians 2:11, "so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs." Paul was exposed during his

John MacArthur, The Macarthur Bible Commentary: Unleashing God's Truth, One Verse at a Time (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 1649. Mullins, Terence Y. "Paul's thorn in the flesh." Journal Of Biblical Literature 76, no. 4 (December 1, 1957): 301.
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9 ministry to demonic oppression and knew how to endure through it but was this what Paul wanted the reader to understand as his "thorn in the flesh"? Kistemaker disagrees, "a thorn in the flesh was given to him not by a messenger of Satan but by the Lord, who allowed Satan's messenger to buffet Paul".13 I would also side with Kistemaker that this thorn was not Satan's messenger but the thorn afflicted by the messenger. God allowed the messenger of Satan to inflict Paul with a "thorn" of suffering; whatever it might have been. Various Theories and Approaches Offered: Physical Infirmity The most popular theory of Paul's "thorn in the flesh" is the physical infirmity. Paul used the term "thorn in the flesh" but was it meant to be a literal and physical sense? The proponents of the theory believe so and usually claim it was an eye affliction. Paul was blinded during his conversion experience in Acts 9:1-9 by a bright light from heaven. This supernatural light caused him to lose his sight for several days, "And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank" (vs 9). Hisey agrees, "Some authors have suggested that it may have been an impairment of vision. The fact that Paul's vision did suffer impairment at the time he received his "thorn in the flesh" together with the absence of any reference to some other ailment is certainly strong evidence for this view."14 Paul regained his sight by God's healing through Ananias yet several passages point to ongoing ailments of his eyes. One such passage that might point a connection to Acts 9:9 is

Kistemaker, Simon J. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Pub Group, 1997. Hisey, Alan, and James S P. Beck. 1961. "Paul's "thorn in the flesh" : a paragnosis." Journal Of Bible And Religion 29, no. 2: 125-129. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 27, 2013).
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10 Galatians 6:11, "See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. " Paul's large writing may suggest that his eyesight was poor and thus the need for a scribe to assist in his writings. Galatians 4:13-14 speaks of others who knew of an ailment suffered by the Apostle Paul, "You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus." Paul did experience physical illnesses and the most popular claim is that an eye condition is likely the "thorn in the flesh". The earliest writers appear to agree with the plain and literal understanding of the term. Lightfoot expounds, "but in some form or other illness was the solution which suggested itself to the earliest writers. This appears to be the idea of Irenaeus, the first writer who alludes to the subject, and of Victorinus, the first extant commentator on the Epistle to the Galatians."15 This would appear to be the most likely and supported theory of Paul's thorn in the flesh but certainty is not possible. Smith agrees that assurance cannot be attained, "The fact is that nobody knows what St. Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was because he never lifted the veil of reticence from his own secret."16 God might not want us to know what Paul's thorn is specifically so that we are open to applying the correct response to all forms of suffering generally; not just at one specific type of suffering. Therefore, since one cannot know exactly what Paul suffered from, they must look closer at Paul's intent for writing this passage. Paul

15

J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. (BiblioLife, 2010), 184.

Smith, Neil G. 1959. "Thorn that stayed : an exposition of 2 Corinthians 12:7-9." Interpretation 13, no. 4: 409-416. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 27, 2013).

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11 wanted the reader to understand that he suffered so that he would remain in humility. How did Paul deal with this suffering, what did he focus on and what was his response in suffering? The answers to these questions certainly would help a believer to travel through their own circumstances of suffering and respond to them in a God glorifying manner. Paul's Response to Sufferings and Affliction As I stated earlier, the more significant concern surrounds Paul's thoughts and response throughout this mysterious affliction. Paul's thorn and suffering is the point where his Christian experience and his theology meet.17 What Paul thought and how he responded is what made the difference. Paul accepting his weaknesses and even rejoicing in them is the results from his experiences with the thorn. sten erger explains, "God humbled Paul by giving him a thorn in

the flesh that prevented him from exalting himself. This "thorn" (whose identity is debated) left Paul weak and forced him to live in dependence on God's great power."18 Paul became humble and dependent because of his suffering thus proving its purpose for God allowing it into his life. Paul went on, to say about his thorn, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. (vs 8). Out of desperation for relief in his suffering, Paul pleaded to Christ for reprieve. Whatever the thorn was, he was desperate for comfort and prayed three times for it

Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, translated by William Montgomery (New York: Seabury Press, 1968), p. 148; Krister Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), p. 40. Cited in Powers, Janet Everts. 2001. "A 'thorn in the flesh': the appropriation of textual meaning." Journal Of Pentecostal Theology no. 18: 85-99. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 28, 2013). sten erger, Andreas J., L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: an Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 2009. 498.
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12 to be removed. Paul's plead was denied and the thorn remained. Christ's reply was, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (vs 9). God's grace was a etter answer to Paul's suffering than the removal of the "thorn". The power of Christ was best put on display in Paul's suffering rather than in prosperity. According to Walvoord, "Rather than removing the problem God gave him grace in it. This grace is sufficient (arkei, i.e., adequate in the sense of providing contentment). 19 Contentment was what the Apostle Paul needed. Contentment is the key to Paul's right response to his circumstances of suffering. Paul came to an understanding that if he was not able to have the thorn removed and experience relief than he would need endurance and correct thinking. If he could correct his thoughts and calibrate them to God's perspective of thinking, than he could experience contentment in this suffering or any other type of suffering. This was what he was speaking about as he responded to Christ's answer, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." Paul had to stop living with a small lens of life in the here and now and ratchet his lens wider to the big picture; the lens that God uses. Through this lens, Paul understood that his suffering placed Jesus Christ on display. He understood that all who observed him in his suffering were seeing a Christian who was content in any and every circumstance. He even found a sense of joy in his deep suffering because of Christ.

John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985). 2 Co 12:79.

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13 Practical Application for Believers Paul did not deny the suffering of Christians; instead, he became an expert on suffering and grief experientially. His teaching on this topic is threaded throughout his epistles and must be applied to the lives of believers today. Paul learned his own lesson in the midst of sufferings. Most often, the Apostle Paul is seen as a perfect follower of Christ from the start. However, Paul describes a very different experience in Philippians 4:11-12: "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." How did Paul become content? He states twice that he had to learn it. The Apostle Paul had to learn how to become content in any and every circumstance. He was not exempt from putting forth the effort to learn and practice it. He describes it as "a secret" probably due to the fact that most do not learn contentment; its a rarity. It is vital that Christians learn this "secret" of contentment. As the orchestrator of life, God weaves good and bad into the lives for purpose. Believers are to be satisfied with God as He allows difficult circumstances in their lives, and are to learn how to respond well so that He is placed on display for all to see. Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 4:9-10 that Christians are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, but not crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, and destroyed". Why? "So that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies". A suffering Christian, who learns to suffer well, will place Jesus Christ on display in their life. Being satisfied with what God is doing in our lives, regardless of difficulty is what brings God the most glory and us the most joy. John Piper proclaims, "God is most glorified in you

14 when you are most satisfied in Him."20 God promises eternal good on behalf of the Christian in all things, "for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). God uses "thorns" to work eternal good in your life and for His utmost glory. This fulfills God's goal to conform believers "to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29). Conclusion We do not know exactly what the thorn was yet throughout all the theories it is likely some type of physical ailment. Not knowing specifically keeps us responding well generally to suffering. Whatever the "thorn" was it brought weakness, calamity and suffering to Paul's life to the point that he prayed for relief. As his plea for relief was rejected, Paul learned that contentment was more valuable for his eternal good and God's glory than total relief. Paul's thorn was an excruciating time in his life yet he would not replace what he took from it for anything. When he learned that he was actually stronger in his weaknesses he "boasted all the more". Learning to be content with what God is doing to us, and through us brings Him the most glory, and works out for our eternal good. There is truly a sense of joy even in the deepest suffering.

John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, 25th anniversary reference ed. (Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah Books, 2011), 10.

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15 BIBLIOGRAPHY Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, translated by William Montgomery (New York: Seabury Press, 1968), p. 148; Krister Stendahl, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), p. 40. Cited in Powers, Janet Everts. 2001. "A 'thorn in the flesh': the appropriation of textual meaning." Journal Of Pentecostal Theology no. 18: 85-99. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 28, 2013). D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2005, 445. Hisey, Alan, and James S P. Beck. 1961. "Paul's "thorn in the flesh" : a paragnosis." Journal Of Bible And Religion 29, no. 2: 125-129. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 27, 2013). J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians. (BiblioLife, 2010), 184, 186. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985). 2 Co 12:79. John MacArthur, The Macarthur Bible Commentary: Unleashing God's Truth, One Verse at a Time Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2005, 1649. John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, 25th anniversary reference ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Multnomah Books, 2011, 10. Kistemaker, Simon J. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Pub Group, 1997. sten erger, Andreas J., L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: an Introduction to the New Testament. Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 2009. 498. Lea, Thomas D. and David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message. 3d ed. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2003. 424. Mullins, Terence Y. 1957. "Paul's thorn in the flesh." Journal Of Biblical Literature 76, no. 4: 299-303. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 25, 2013). 301. Price, Robert M. 1980. "Punished in paradise (An exegetical theory on 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)." Journal For The Study Of The New Testament no. 7: 33-40. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 25, 2013). 36.

16 Smith, Neil G. 1959. "Thorn that stayed : an exposition of 2 Corinthians 12:7-9." Interpretation 13, no. 4: 409-416. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 27, 2013). William D. Mounce, Greek for the Rest of Us: Using Greek Tools Without Mastering Biblical Greek Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007, xv