2 Corinthians 12:7
Parallel Verses
New International Version
or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

New Living Translation
even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

English Standard Version
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.

New American Standard Bible
Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-- to keep me from exalting myself!

King James Bible
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.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself.

International Standard Version
To keep me from becoming conceited because of the exceptional nature of these revelations, a thorn was given to me and placed in my body. It was Satan's messenger to keep on tormenting me so that I would not become conceited.

NET Bible
even because of the extraordinary character of the revelations. Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me--so that I would not become arrogant.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
Lest I be lifted up by the abundance of revelations, a thorn for my flesh was handed over to me, an Angel of Satan to buffet me, lest I be lifted up.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
especially because of the excessive number of revelations that I've had. Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I am forced to deal with a recurring problem. That problem, Satan's messenger, torments me to keep me from being conceited.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me above measure, there is given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

King James 2000 Bible
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.

American King James Version
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.

American Standard Version
And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And lest the greatness of the revelations should exalt me, there was given me a sting of my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me.

Darby Bible Translation
And that I might not be exalted by the exceeding greatness of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn for the flesh, a messenger of Satan that he might buffet me, that I might not be exalted.

English Revised Version
And by reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations--wherefore, that I should not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, that I should not be exalted overmuch.

Webster's Bible Translation
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.

Weymouth New Testament
And judging by the stupendous grandeur of the revelations--therefore lest I should be over-elated there has been sent to me, like the agony of impalement, Satan's angel dealing blow after blow, lest I should be over-elated.

World English Bible
By reason of the exceeding greatness of the revelations, that I should not be exalted excessively, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, that I should not be exalted excessively.

Young's Literal Translation
and that by the exceeding greatness of the revelations I might not be exalted overmuch, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of the Adversary, that he might buffet me, that I might not be exalted overmuch.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

12:7-10 The apostle gives an account of the method God took to keep him humble, and to prevent his being lifted up above measure, on account of the visions and revelations he had. We are not told what this thorn in the flesh was, whether some great trouble, or some great temptation. But God often brings this good out of evil, that the reproaches of our enemies help to hide pride from us. If God loves us, he will keep us from being exalted above measure; and spiritual burdens are ordered to cure spiritual pride. This thorn in the flesh is said to be a messenger of Satan which he sent for evil; but God designed it, and overruled it for good. Prayer is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; and when we are afflicted with thorns in the flesh, we should give ourselves to prayer. If an answer be not given to the first prayer, nor to the second, we are to continue praying. Troubles are sent to teach us to pray; and are continued, to teach us to continue instant in prayer. Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is asked for: as he sometimes grants in wrath, so he sometimes denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.

Pulpit Commentary

Verses 7-10. - The thorn in the flesh. Verse 7. - Lest I should be exalted above measure; literally, that I may not be over exalted. It was necessary to show St. Paul that he only held the treasure in an earthen vessel. There was given me. Even God's afflictions are meant for gifts. A thorn (skolops). The more usual meaning is, as Hesychius says, "a sharp stake" ('Sudes,' Tert.). Hence the word skolopizo, I impale or crucify. St. Paul's agony was an impalement or crucifixion of all sensual impulses and earthly ambitions. In the flesh. There have been endless conjectures as to the exact nature of this painful and most humbling physical affliction. It is only by placing side by side a great many separate passages that we are almost irresistibly led to the conclusion which is now most generally adopted, namely, that it was acute and disfiguring ophthalmia, originating in the blinding glare of the light which flashed round him at Damascus, and accompanied, as that most humiliating disease usually is, by occasional cerebral excitement. It would be impossible here to enter into the whole inquiry, for which! refer to my 'Life of St. Paul,' 1:214-226. The messenger of Satan; rather, an angel of Satan. By way of comment, see Matthew 25:41; Luke 13:16; Job 2:7; Revelation 12:7, 9. To buffet me. The verb is derived from kolaphos, a slap on the face, and would be suitable to such a disfigurement as ophthalmia (2 Corinthians 10:10).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

And lest I should be exalted above measure,.... Over much elated in his mind, and swelled with a vain conceit of himself:

through the abundance of the revelations; for he had not only one or two, or a few, but an abundance of them; and which, as everything does but grace, tended to lift up his mind, to stir up the pride of his heart, and to entertain too high and exalted thoughts of himself. Pride is naturally in every man's heart; converted persons are not without it; knowledge, gifts, and revelations are apt to puff up with spiritual pride, unless counterbalanced and over poised by the grace of God. This great apostle was not out of danger by them, for he was not already perfect; wherefore to prevent an excess of pride and vanity in him on account of them, he says,

there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me; many have been the thoughts and conjectures of men about what is here meant by the apostle. This ought to be allowed and taken for granted, that the thorn in the flesh, and the messenger of Satan, design one and the same thing; the former is a figurative expression, the latter a literal one, and explanative of the former. Some have thought that corporeal afflictions are here designed, which may be compared to thorns: see Hosea 2:6, and which are not joyous, but grievous to the flesh, and come not by chance, but are by divine appointment, and are designed and made use of, to hide pride from men; and sometimes, by divine permission, Satan has an hand in inflicting them, as in the case of Job: whilst such a general sense is kept to, it is not to be despised, without entering into the particular bodily disorder with which the apostle was afflicted, as some do; some saying it was the choleic, others the gout, others a pain in the ear, and others the headache; which latter it is said he was much troubled with; but these are mere conjectures: others think that the corruptions of nature are intended which in regenerate persons are left, as the Canaanites were in the land, to be "thorns" in the eyes and sides of the Israelites, Joshua 23:13. These, to be sure, were felt by the apostle, and were very grievous and humbling to him, and were no doubt sometimes stirred up by Satan, which made him complain bitterly, and groan earnestly; and it may be observed, to strengthen this sense, that it was usual with the Jews to call concupiscence, or the vitiosity of nature, Satan; for so they (a) often say, , "Satan, he is the evil imagination", or corruption of nature; and particularly they call the lust of uncleanness by this name; and it is said (b) of a young man of Israel, being tempted by a young woman of Midian, through the counsel of Balaam, that , "Satan burned in him", and he turned aside after her; and that the evil imagination is the old serpent; yea, they call this "the messenger of hell", a phrase very much like what is here used.

"R. Hona (c), as he was preaching to the children of men to take warning, said unto them, children, beware "of the messenger of hell"; but who is this? the evil imagination, or concupiscence, is that which is "the messenger of hell";''

and this sense is agreeable, provided the particular corruption the apostle was harassed with is not pretended to, as is by some, who pitch upon the lust of uncleanness, and spare not to mention the person by name, one Tecla, who, they say, travelled with him, and was a snare to him; but this is to do injury to the character of so holy an apostle, and to represent him as exposing himself to the false apostles, against whom he was guarding: others think that a variety of afflictions, reproaches, and persecutions, for Christ's sake and the Gospel, are here meant, which were as pricking briers and grieving thorns to him; see Ezekiel 28:24, and which were given and ordered by divine appointment for his good; this sense, 2 Corinthians 12:9, lead unto, and seem to confirm: others are of opinion that the temptations of Satan are designed, which, as they are called "fiery darts", which the archers of Satan, and his principalities and powers, shoot thick and fast at the saints, to their great annoyance; so may be here called, especially some very particular, eminent, and sore temptation, a "thorn in the flesh", very pungent, and giving a great deal of pain and uneasiness; others suppose that some particular emissary of Satan, either some one of the false apostles and teachers, who greatly opposed him, as Alexander the coppersmith, who did him much harm; or such an one as Hymenaeus or Philetus, that blasphemed and spoke evil of him; or some violent persecutor of him is intended. But, after all, I see not but that the devil himself may be meant; for, as before observed, the phrase "a thorn in the flesh" is metaphorical, and the other, a "messenger of Satan", is literal, and explains it; and the whole may be read thus, "there was given to me a thorn in the flesh", namely, "the angel Satan to buffet me"; so that Satan, who was once an angel of light, now of darkness, is the "thorn in the flesh"; and might be suffered to appear visibly to him from time to time, in a very terrible manner, and which was very grievous to be borne; he might by permission have great power over his body, as he had over Job's, to use it ill, to beat and buffet it; for this also may be taken literally: and he might likewise in other ways greatly distress him by stirring up the corruptions of his heart; by following him with his satanical injections, suggestions, and temptations; by raising violent persecutions, and instigating many of his emissaries against him; and this sense is the rather to be chosen, because it includes all others that have any show of truth. The Jews (d) sometimes make mention of the angel or messenger of Satan mocking at the righteous, and buffeting them; so God is by them said (e) to deliver Nebuchadnezzar , "to a messenger of Satan". This sore exercise befell the apostle for his good, to keep down the pride of his nature;

lest, adds he again,

I should be exalted above measure; for such ends and purposes does the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, deal with his people. The (f) Jews have a notion that this was one reason of God's tempting or trying Abraham with the sacrifice of his Son, to depress that pride that was likely to arise in him because of his greatness.

"This temptation (they say) was necessary at that time, because above, the grandeur of Abraham is declared how great it was before his enemies made peace with him; and Abimelech, king of the Philistines, and Phichol, the chief captain of his host, were obliged to enter into a covenant with him, and asked him to show favour to them, and to the land in which he sojourned; and perhaps hereby , "his heart was lifted up", in the ways of God; "and his eyes were lofty"; when he saw himself blessed with riches, and with children, and with grandeur and glory, as the glory of kings; wherefore God was "willing to try him": with a wall of iron, (this great difficulty) to see if there was any dross left in him.''

(a) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 6. 2. 3. s. 3. 10. 4. 13. 3. 20. 2. 50. 3. 58. 3. 72. 4. 73. 2. 86. 1. 87. 2. 93. 1. 96. 1. 99. 4. 100. 4. 101. 42. 113. 1. & 133. 2. & 141. 3. &; 149. 2. & 152. 3. Raya Mehimna in Zohar in Lev. fol. 7. 2.((b) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 20. fol. 229. 1.((c) Midrash Hannelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 67. 4. (d) R. Eliezer Katon de Scientia Animae, l. 10. apud Gaffarell. Cod. Cabal. Misc. pic. Mirandal. Index p. 23. ad calcem Wolf. Heb. Bibliothec. (e) Shemot Rabba, sect. 20. fol. 105. 4. (f) Tzeror Hammor, fol. 22. 1.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

7. exalted above measure—Greek, "overmuch uplifted." How dangerous must self-exaltation be, when even the apostle required so much restraint! [Bengel].

abundance—Greek, "the excess"; exceeding greatness.

given … me—namely, by God (Job 5:6; Php 1:29).

thorn in the flesh—(Nu 33:55; Eze 28:24). Alford thinks it to be the same bodily affliction as in Ga 4:13, 14. It certainly was something personal, affecting him individually, and not as an apostle: causing at once acute pain (as "thorn" implies) and shame ("buffet": as slaves are buffeted, 1Pe 2:20).

messenger of Satan—who is permitted by God to afflict His saints, as Job (Job 2:7; Lu 13:16).

to buffet me—In Greek, present: to buffet me even now continuously. After experiencing the state of the blissful angels, he is now exposed to the influence of an evil angel. The chastisement from hell follows soon upon the revelation from heaven. As his sight and hearing had been ravished with heavenly "revelations," so his touch is pained with the "thorn in the flesh."

2 Corinthians 12:7 Additional Commentaries
Context
Paul's Thorn and God's Grace
7Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-- to keep me from exalting myself! 8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me.…
Cross References
Numbers 33:55
"'But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live.

Job 2:6
The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, he is in your hands; but you must spare his life."

Ezekiel 28:24
"'No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.

Hosea 2:6
Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.

Matthew 4:10
Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

1 Corinthians 5:5
hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 10:10
For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing."

2 Corinthians 12:1
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.
Treasury of Scripture

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.

lest.

2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself …

2 Corinthians 11:20 For you suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour …

Deuteronomy 8:14 Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, which …

Deuteronomy 17:20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brothers, and that he turn …

2 Chronicles 26:16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: …

2 Chronicles 32:25,26,31 But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done to …

Daniel 5:20 But when his heart was lifted up, and his mind hardened in pride, …

1 Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation …

the abundance.

2 Corinthians 12:1-4 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions …

a thorn.

Genesis 32:25,31 And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the …

Judges 2:3 Why I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they …

Ezekiel 28:24 And there shall be no more a pricking brier to the house of Israel, …

Galatians 4:13 You know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel …

the messenger.

Job 2:7 So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job …

Luke 13:16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan …

1 Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, …

to buffet.

Matthew 26:67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote …

1 Corinthians 4:11 Even to this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, …

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