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The Church and the Afflictions of Jesus

Rev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., July 15, 2018
Part of the Colossians series.

On Sunday we will continue on our walk through Paul’s letter to the Colossians. And this week our sermon text will be taken from Colossians 1:24 where the Apostle declares: “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.”

As you can readily observe, this is a perplexing verse of inspired Scripture, and it raises some obvious questions that we must answer. For example, is Paul suggesting that our Lord’s sufferings upon the cross for our sins were insufficient, and that there is the need to add to them since they are “lacking”? Is he saying that our sufferings somehow complete those of Jesus, and contribute in some way to our eternal salvation? And if these two are not viable interpretive options (and I will argue that they are not, and that our Lord’s sufferings were and are fully sufficient in themselves), then what does Paul mean?

As you prayerfully ponder this verse, let me suggest that you also consider the words of the Apostle Peter, which provide a commentary on this intriguing verse from Colossians:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you”—1 Peter 4:12-14 (ESV).

Colossians 1:24

24Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: (KJV)