I believe he was using a thorn in the flesh as a metaphor.
The Apostle Paul is letting us know that at three times he was tormented by Satan so that he cried out to the Lord to deliver him from the pain.
After Paul was transformed from Saul a fire-breathing Christian killer into Paul a soft-hearted Christian loving man that wanted to share the gospel. We witnessed beforehand the transformation of God changing a fierce killer into a gentleman that cared for the poor and needy. We really saw the convictions of Paul and how he lived and spoke about the vicious Christian killer he used to be.
I can’t help but wonder was the thorn in Paul’s flesh a reminder of the man that he used to be and the many Christians he killed when he was Saul and the beliefs that he was taught to hate anyone that opposed his beliefs growing up?
Was Satan tormenting his mind of where he came from and how he was raised to hate Christians? But now as a believer, he was living on the other side and seeing things from a whole new perspective. His old beliefs and customs that he once treasured were now that thorn in his flesh that he fought against spiritually and every time he looked into the judgmental eyes of the Pharisees their personal insults towards him dug the thorn in deeper.
I can’t imagine what Paul went through every time he went through a beating by the Jews that he loved. He still mourned for them and their beliefs in not seeing that Jesus was the true Messiah. It had to be a strong spiritual battle for him to go through each time. You had a man since he was a child being taught and trained for a certain position in his life. And now he was dealing with the realization of what he had been preparing for his whole life was a farce. It was now about the Pharisees wanting to keep the power and trying to conceal the truth. The very traditions and customs were now a thorn in his flesh that wanted rid of him. He wasn't even welcomed in his own country.
2 Corinthians 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.
I believe here the Apostle Paul is letting us know that he's still emotionally attached to the Jews by calling them his fellow Jews. I think their insults to him were just as powerful as physical blows to him. He still loved them!
Paul was a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin and a Pharisee. He was born in Tarus of Cilica. He studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of his ancestors. He was the equivalent to a Ph.D in Law.
Galatians 1:14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers.
It was Paul's strong traditions of Judaism that nailed his Savior to the cross. I believe this was also a thorn in his flesh that he had been apart of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
I really believe the rejection and insults along with the death threats that Paul went through with the Jews was the thorn in his flesh because they were his blood. They were part of his past and present. He would always be a Jew whether he was accepted by them or not. No matter where he went, he would always be a Jew. And he was always in constant conflict with them. I think it was the greatest battle he faced and like he said a thorn in his flesh. He now knew the truth the traditions he grew-up loving that were sculpted into him sacrificed the true Messiah.
Proverbs 18:21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Acts23:6 Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, descended from Pharisees. I stand on trial because of the hope of the resurrection of the dead.”