Are Christ’s Afflictions Lacking?
Colossians 1:24: ” Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”
In a previous post, I explained that God grants us suffering, thereby blessing us greatly. Angels long to look into the suffering of Christ, but cannot. When suffering comes, believers are joyful.
Roman Catholics tend to interpret Colossians 1:24 from the aspect of redemption. Scripturecatholic.com says, “Knowing what we know about Paul, we can safely conclude that he would not rejoice in anything, much less write about it in a theological epistle, unless it brought about Christ’s work of redemption.”
Roman Catholics, like many Protestants, make the mistake of making redemption the primary trajectory of their theology. Redemption – God saving mankind – is the primary lens by which they view the world.
Redemption is a central theme of Scripture, but is redemption God’s primary objective? Scripture teaches that God is primarily interested in His own glory (Ephesians 1:4-6, Isaiah 43:6-7, Romans 9:17, John 7:l8, John 12:27-28, John 12:27-28, Romans 11:36, Revelation 21:23).
Missing this point can throw a person’s (alas, an entire religion’s) view of God completely awry.
I do not believe that Paul is writing about redemption in Colossians 1:24. In verses 28-29, Paul sums up the chapter by telling the reader why he toils: to present everyone mature in Christ.
This passage is not about redemption, it is about the supremacy of Christ in all things.
In Philippians 2:30, we find a Greek word that is similar to ἀνταναπληρόω (“filling up”) in Colossians 1:24: “ἀναπληρόω” also means “fill up”. In Philippians 2, Paul is writing about Epaphroditus’ ministry to Paul. Epaphroditus, the face of the Philippian church risked his life in order to “complete what was lacking” in the Philippians’ ministry to Paul’s needs. Paul most likely wrote Philippians and Colossians from in prison in Rome in 61-63 A.D. The Philippians, having ministered to Paul, could not all fully and personally minister to Paul’s needs at such a great distance (it is about 600 miles from Rome to Philippi), so they sent Epaphras.
Likewise, Jesus ordained Paul to be His minister to the Colossians. Paul was the face of Jesus Christ to the churches.
Epaphroditus did not proclaim himself; rather, he proclaimed the Philippian church. Paul didn’t proclaim himself, but rather Jesus Christ the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5) to this end: the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).