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Paul's Hardships Were Not Sicknesses

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

In the section Devine Healing: People’s Precepts we corrected the misconception that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a sickness and proved that it was actually a spirit sent from Satan that energized people to stir up trouble wherever Paul preached. Here, we present other scriptures that enforce this truth.

First, we see that thorns in the flesh was an expression used to indicate those who would harass (pester, plague, torment, persecute, annoy, worry, disturb, trouble, agitate) the Israelites. It would be, to a lesser degree, similar to the expression pain in the neck.

NUMBERS 33:55-56 But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”

JOSHUA 2:13 know for certain that the LORD your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the LORD your God has given you.

Second, we see that Paul was strong, endured many attacks of men, yet labored more than any man for the Gospel:

ACTS 9:17-19 So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened.

1 CORINTHIANS 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

2 CORINTHIANS 11:21-30 But whatever anyone else dares to boast of — I am speaking as a fool — I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one— I am talking like a madman — with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 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 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 care for all the churches. If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness...

Third, Paul operated in faith without wavering (doubting) as he ministered healing. This was to the point where he was so filled with the Holy Spirit that healing overflowed from his being, even his flesh:

ACTS 19:11-12 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.

Remember not to make a doctrine out of one scripture. We must establish two or three witnesses in scripture to form a truth, and that truth cannot nullify other truths:

DEUTERONOMY 17:6 On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses the one who is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.

2 CORINTHIANS 13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

MATTHEW 18:16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

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