Thorn in the flesh

(2 Cor. 12:7-10). Many interpretations have been given of this
passage. (1.) Roman Catholic writers think that it denotes
suggestions to impiety.

(2.) Luther, Calvin, and other Reformers interpret the
expression as denoting temptation to unbelief.

(3.) Others suppose the expression refers to "a pain in the
ear or head," epileptic fits, or, in general, to some severe
physical infirmity, which was a hindrance to the apostle in his
work (compare 1 Cor. 2:3; 2 Cor. 10:10; 11:30; Gal. 4:13, 14;
6:17). With a great amount of probability, it has been alleged
that his malady was defect of sight, consequent on the dazzling
light which shone around him at his conversion, acute opthalmia.
This would account for the statements in Gal. 4:14; 2 Cor.
10:10; also Acts 23:5, and for his generally making use of the
help of an amanuensis (compare Rom. 16:22, etc.).

(4.) Another view which has been maintained is that this
"thorn" consisted in an infirmity of temper, to which he
occasionally gave way, and which interfered with his success
(compare Acts 15:39; 23:2-5). If we consider the fact, "which the
experience of God's saints in all ages has conclusively
established, of the difficulty of subduing an infirmity of
temper, as well as the pain, remorse, and humiliation such an
infirmity is wont to cause to those who groan under it, we may
be inclined to believe that not the least probable hypothesis
concerning the 'thorn' or 'stake' in the flesh is that the
loving heart of the apostle bewailed as his sorest trial the
misfortune that, by impatience in word, he had often wounded
those for whom he would willingly have given his life" (Lias's
Second Cor., Introd.).