thorn in the flesh; thorn in one’s side

something that persistently bothers, irritates, or causes pain
—I like all of the committee members except Jason. He disagrees with everything I say and has really become a thorn in my side.

Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthian church that he has seen a vision from God but adds that it would be wrong for him to boast or become proud:

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. I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

Though there have been many ideas about what Paul’s “thorn” was, Paul does not say.

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  • All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. http://bible.org. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

    Scripture in brackets is from the King James Bible.

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    This work is licensed by Craig Thompson under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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