“I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church,” (Colossians 1:24-25).
Our journey through the book of Colossians now brings us to a challenging and difficult portion of Scripture: “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (NIV). This seems to imply that Paul the Apostle had to compensate for something that was lacking in Jesus’ sacrifice.
We can begin our look at this passage by observing that Paul suffered greatly for his commitment to Christ. For example, the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians contains a deeply personal admission from the apostle himself…
“…I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.
I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights.
I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27 NLT).
Nevertheless, one commentator offers the following insight regarding this passage…
“Christ’s death on the Cross is sufficient for our salvation. The Bible makes this emphatically clear. Anticipating the Cross, Jesus said to His Father, ‘I have finished the work which You have given Me to do’ (John 17:4). On the cross He cried out, ‘It is finished!’ (John 19:30). The Book of Hebrews declares unequivocally that ‘by one offering [on the cross] He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified’ (Heb. 10:14). And this He did ‘by Himself’ (Heb. 1:3), with no help from anyone else.” (1)
With these things in mind, we’ll consider the meaning of “I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions” next.
(1) Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. A. (1992). When critics ask : a popular handbook on Bible difficulties (pp. 486–487). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.