"A Thorn In The Flesh"

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Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 199

Context: Paul, disheartened because the church at Corinth is following false leaders instead of him, its founder and the true apostle of Christ, seeks to reveal the folly of its actions. Paul says that if the Corinthians must trust fools, then he will speak to them as a fool, but he must boast to them of his accomplishments as a missionary of the gospel. However, lest Paul should feel too exalted, he confesses, he has been given "a thorn in the flesh," a constant discomfort (probably an offensive physical illness of some kind) that keeps him humble; thus, in his discomfort he is better able to serve the Lord:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

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