Event Title

A Thorn in the Mind: An Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 12.7b-10

Session Title

History and Literature

Faculty Mentor

Peter Judge, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies

Location

West 214

Start Date

12-4-2019 3:45 PM

Description

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul describes a “messenger of Satan” being sent to him in the shape of a “thorn in the flesh” to serve as a reminder that Christ’s grace is sufficient for him (2 Corinthians 12.7b-10); however, the exact interpretation of what this thorn represents is unclear. I present a historical overview of this passage, along with the three common opinions as to what the thorn actually is—a physical ailment, an enemy of Paul, or, verbatim, a messenger of Satan—along with biblical evidence for each of these opinions. I argue, however, that an additional, equally valid interpretation—that the thorn represents, in modern terms, a mental affliction—can also be supported with biblical evidence. In addition, I discuss the evangelical Protestant Church, its view of mental health, and the role it can play in using 2 Corinthians 12.7b-10 to minister to those suffering with mental illness.

Course Assignment

RELG 495 – Judge

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Apr 12th, 3:45 PM

A Thorn in the Mind: An Interpretation of 2 Corinthians 12.7b-10

West 214

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul describes a “messenger of Satan” being sent to him in the shape of a “thorn in the flesh” to serve as a reminder that Christ’s grace is sufficient for him (2 Corinthians 12.7b-10); however, the exact interpretation of what this thorn represents is unclear. I present a historical overview of this passage, along with the three common opinions as to what the thorn actually is—a physical ailment, an enemy of Paul, or, verbatim, a messenger of Satan—along with biblical evidence for each of these opinions. I argue, however, that an additional, equally valid interpretation—that the thorn represents, in modern terms, a mental affliction—can also be supported with biblical evidence. In addition, I discuss the evangelical Protestant Church, its view of mental health, and the role it can play in using 2 Corinthians 12.7b-10 to minister to those suffering with mental illness.