Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh – 2 Cor 12:7-10 | Bible Study

Bible Study Lesson:

2 Cor 12:7-10

1. What was St. Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh?

Paul did not mention about his ‘thorn in the flesh’. However, one thing is sure, that he was really concerned about this issue.

  • It continually distracted him. He was distressed by it.
  • He prayed twice that it may depart from him.
  • Some scholars say, it was a disease, sickness, which kept him from serving God, some say, it was some area of life, which he was struggling with. (
  • Whatever it may be, we really don’t know what it was.
  • It was holding Paul back from complete devotion/commitment.
  • It was his ‘weakness’, he may have found himself struggling over this issue so many times.
  • There were so many things (reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses), which distracted him, as he mentioned in verse 10. But this particular one concerned Paul the most.

2. Did Paul get answer to his prayers?

  • What a wonderful answer to his prayer! Did God give him what he asked for? Perhaps not, but God gave him much more than he asked for.
  • “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
  • God’s grace was enough for him; His Strength was enough for his weakness.
  • It is not by our strength, or might, but by His strength, we are made perfect in our weaknesses, especially those particular weakness, you just can’t overcome.
  • Christ’s power, His strength is there for us, with us, residing in us, resting upon us.
  • It is sufficient to overcome our weaknesses.
  • Can you imagine, Christ’s power is given to us, to overcome our weaknesses!
  • We are strong, when we are weak. Because Christ’s power lives in us everyday.
  • How often do you realize that Christ lives in you? (Galatians 2:20)
  • His strength resides in you? You can overcome anything by His strength.
  • ‘Greater is He who is in you, than the one in this world.’

3. How did this answer change apostle Paul’s perspective regarding his weakness?

  • See how Paul’s perspective changed by God’s answer; now he took pleasure and glory (for Christ’ sake) in what he wanted to get rid of.
  • Now he did not look at it as something which holds him back, but that, Christ’s power is given to him to overcome not only this weakness but all things.

4. How can we apply in our personal weakness?

We also need to change our perspective about our weaknesses.

  • Not to be discouraged or disheartened by it.
  • Not to be afraid of or live in constant fear or distress.

But to realize that,

  • God is with you, Christ lives in you, and He dwells in you.
  • His strength is given unto you. His power resides in you.
  • You are no longer weak, but strong in His strength.
  • You can rebuke/defeat devil in the name of Jesus.
  • You can fight any weakness by His power.
  • Though you may still be weak by yourself, you are strong in His strength.

5. What is your ‘thorn in the flesh’? What is one thing that you can point out in you life, which you have struggled with all your life, which you just can’t overcome?

  • It may be sickness, pride, hurt, suffering, anger or sin.
  • You may have prayed over hundreds of times, but still struggling with it, which holds you back from complete devotion to God. (Questioning God – Psalms 13)
  • I personally believe God doesn’t want us to know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. It is between God and him. And it is okay not to know the reason.
  • Perhaps, you may have some weakness, which no one can understand, not even, your spouse, or your best friend.
  • But God knows it, He understands it, He knows what you go through. And He has given the Greatest Gift of Christ. (Bible Study on Spiritual Gifts)
  • Christ lives in you, his power resides in you. You can overcome anything by his power.
  • His power is continually increased as the weakness grows.
  • Human weakness opens the way for more of Christ’s power and grace.
  • For years, I have claimed this verse over and over again for my life. For when, I am weak, at that very time, I am strong, not in myself, but in the fresh access of power from Christ.
  • How wonderful it will be if, we live by His power, His strength everyday.
  • I hope and pray that this devotion which is so dear to my heart, will bring great joy, freedom and assurance in your personal walk with Christ.

Lord Jesus, help me to live by Your Power each day of my life, Praise be to God. Amen.

“I can do all things (not just few, or some, but all things) through Christ who strengthen me.” – Phil 4:13

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” - Gal 2:20

“Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.” - 1 John 4:4

Other Resources:

“What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh?”


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  1. Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not a sickness or disease. He said exactly what it was in that same scripture. It was a messenger from satan sent to buffet me. He asked God three times to take it away and God’s answer was “You do it!”

  2. Hi,
    Yes, we do actually know what Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was. It is a phrase used several times in the Old Testament to mean persecution. He says it was the messenger of Satan to buffet him. The Greek word that Paul uses for messenger is ‘aggelos’ which means angel. (Check your New Testament Greek if you don’t believe me!) This is exactly the same word which is used for the ‘aggelos’ Gabriel, who told Mary in Luke 2 that she would be the mother of the Saviour, Jesus. The buffeting that Paul constantly had, was persecution from a Satanic angel, which he lists as reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses, which came and went like waves hitting the seashore, on account of the message he was bringing. God has redeemed us (and Paul) through Jesus, from sickness and disease (although often we need to know how to tap into this redemption!)but He has NOT redeemed us from persecution – in fact we are promised persecution, if we are doing the Lord’s will. (2 Timothy 12).
    Paul was triumphant over everything that the devil sent against him and the people could see that it had to be God working in his life. Paul was not prideful, either. The phrase ‘lest I should BE exalted’ means that he was not exalting himself! The devil gave him these buffetings to keep him from being exalted by God in the eyes of the people. Many more people would have received what Paul preached if everything was easy for him. However, there was this demonic angel who always buffeted Paul and scared away the faint-hearted from committing themselves to Jesus, whom Paul preached.

    I hope this helps.

  3. Dear Phil,

    Thanks. I did some research for the ‘Thorn in the Flesh’, and did not find any conclusive idea. But, I never looked at from your view point. I will do some more research into what you have mentioned. Thank you for a detailed explanation.

  4. Dear Phil,

    Thanks for sharing this Bible Study. You spoke of paradigm shift. Thorn becomes irrelevant though still remains. Perspective changes and now you concentrate on the Holy Spirit’s Power.

    I am blessed.

    Joy Christian

  5. Thanks for this bible study. It encourages me a lot.Like Paul, God can still use us even if we have thorns.I am a worship leader and Many times I told God, to get this thorn away from me so that I can lead better, but until now, it’s still there, no doctor can explain, no one can understand.But God always prove to me that his power is made perfect when I am weak, because people would tell me how bless they are with the worship.

  6. What a wonderful and beautiful work for His glory. May the Lord bless you all, Amen.

  7. This bible study today, has given me strength and encouragement that i thought im possible. I have been struggling for a year, trying to understand how am i going to make it with such a strong tempation that only the Lord knows that I have. It seems like as I grow and my dedication increases, this struggle with my flesh, only gets stronger and stronger. I cry to the Lord and wonder will I make it, will i ever be able to fully please him. I have the Holyghost, and greater is he that is within me then he that is in the world. I must profess it, accept it and walk in it. Yes the devil is throwing so much at me and being newly saved, I wonder am I supposed to be able to handle it, but I am persuaded from this day forward, I’ll let nothing seperate me from the Love of God. (Pauls thorn in the flesh, Overcoming temptation,,,,etc….what a blessing, thank you)

  8. I am highly blessed by this, am sure it is the holy spirit that show this to me today. i am going through a lot now by this “thorn weakness”; but now i know that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness.
    I can do all things through “Him” who strengthen me.
    May God bless You.

  9. I used this study for our adult group and it revitalized our session. Nothing we have studied together has evoked the same level of interaction. Good Job!

  10. Bible SEO,

    Actually Wayne and Phil are correct. I was taught the same lie about nobody knowing what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was but was taught later by someone who actually studied the bible.

    Here is what I was told, the bible intrepets itself. If scripture doesn’t interpret itself in the verse or in the context of the verse, then the interpretation is found in its previous usage.

    Since the meaning of “thorn in my flesh or side” is not interpreted in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, we have to look for that reference when it was first used in the bible. Numbers 33:55 has that reference. Its saying, people or inhabitants Therefore satan sent “people” to buffet Paul’s message. These people were a thorn in Paul’s flesh or side.

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