Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. It is a painful one, but it is a profoundly happy one. It’s just as far away as a commitment. Like Paul, you can fill up in your flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ’s affliction because sin is still out there. That’s a purpose-driven death. The book of Colossians will make you scratch your head. Phil Thompson (MDiv, Columbia International University) manages strategy and development for TGC’s digital properties. Now in the original the phrase "completing what was lacking" in your service to me is almost the same as "filling up what is lacking" in Christ's afflictions in Colossians 1:24. The lack is the gap of sufferings between the present reach of the gospel and the suffering necessary to establish a gospel presence among all the Gentiles, paralleling Jesus’s own mission to bring the gospel to the Jewish people (see the same language of “minister” and “filling/fulfilling” in Rom. I have a doubt about something Paul said in his letter to the Colossians. The world’s redemption is not complete. How should Christians respond to critical race theory? Introducing TGC Essays: Theology for the Global Church, The FAQs: Answering Tech Questions Pastors Are Asking, How to Livestream Your Church Service: A Practical Guide, the awkwardness of trying to share your faith, 4 Reasons to Wear a Mask, Even if You Hate It. We often worry about what to say to the suffering, but often the most effective ministry in the moment is to sit, weep, and listen well. And so they fill up what is lacking, namely, the personal presentation of the sufferings of Christ in their own bodies. Most of us define the benefits of Christianity with how it makes our life better now: “Your best life now.”. I think it can be stretched to mean—though I don't think it is really a stretch—to say that we ought to love people in a way that takes risks. Christ has prepared a love offering for the world by suffering and dying for sinners. As a result of these deficiencies, another interpretation arose in the 1950s and has become the common interpretation among commentators to this day. In a special episode, Pastor John explains the theory’s goals, assumptions, and root problem. We often worry about what to say to the suffering, but often the most effective ministry in the moment is to sit, weep, and listen well. And by our risking they can see, in our willingness to be inconvenienced, lose comfort, or even suffer for them, the very nature of the afflictions of Christ that were offered for them. But it’s not. The main problem is that even if Paul were talking about how Jesus continues to suffer alongside suffering Christians, in what sense is Paul able to “fill up” or “complete” those mystical sufferings? . The ‘lack’ is the gap of sufferings between the present reach of the gospel and the suffering necessary to establish a gospel presence among all the Gentiles. He had written a book a year since he turned 70! So when Paul says, "By my sufferings I fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ," what he means is that the one thing lacking in the sufferings of Christ is the offer of those sufferings in person to those for whom he died. So Paul sees a very close connection between his sufferings and Christ's afflictions. Christ chose suffering, it didn't just happen to him. . I think that is exactly what the words mean in Colossians 1:24 as well. This is the way Christ means for his saving sufferings to be taken to the world, through the sufferings of his people. So here are three. We’re on a mission to change that. Paul sees his own suffering as the visible reenactment of the sufferings of Christ so that they will see Christ’s love for them. Our sufferings are therefore part of the gift he makes to us, weird as that sounds. Verse 27 says he was sick to the point of death, but God spared him. In doing this we "fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ." In chapter 1 verse 24, he says he is filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Paul is saying he’s carrying out his God-given Gentile mission. Calvin’s understanding of what it means to “fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” largely hinges on the mystical union of believers with Christ: As, therefore, Christ has suffered once in his own person, so he suffers daily in his members, and in this way there are filled up those sufferings which the Father hath appointed for his body by his decree. filling up that which is lacking in the afflictions of Christ." The suffering love of Christ for sinners is seen in the suffering love of his people for sinners. God's answer to this lack is to call the people of Christ (people like Paul) to present the afflictions of Christ to the world—to carry them from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. No matter which way I try to read this, no part of it makes sense. And this definite amount of sufferings is being trimmed down by men like Paul, who exerted himself and absorbed more than his fair share of these sufferings. These interpreters frequently drew on the story of Saul’s conversion in Acts 9:4, where Jesus notably asks him, “Why are you persecuting me?” (not “Why are you persecuting my church?”). I mention that only to exult in the utter dedication of a life poured out for the gospel without thought of coasting in self-indulgence from 65 to the grave. Now he calls us to choose suffering. The point is that taking the gospel to people (across the office or across the ocean) ordinarily requires sacrifice and suffering, a losing of life or a denying of self. His message touched deeply on suffering. So how does Paul fill up that lack? He is author of. What does that mean? The Gospel Coalition supports the church by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. You can’t escape pain; why not make it meaningful? The 11 Beliefs You Should Know about Jehovah’s Witnesses When They Knock at the Door, 9 Things You Should Know About President-Elect Joe Biden, The Most Important Cultural Book of the Year (Maybe Even Decade), Best Defense of Reformed Paedobaptist Covenant Theology, Stop Praying for Stuff (and Start Praying for God). "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake . After a long day of many miles and much discouragement, he came to a certain village and tried to speak the gospel but was driven out of town and rejected. I have been teaching through the book of Colossians over the past 5 weeks. No. The afflictions are lacking in the sense that they are not seen and known among the nations. We’ll call this the Messianic Woes view. If you’re stepping in and joining God in his mission to reclaim worshipers for himself, you will experience some measure of suffering or pain. What was lacking, and what would have been grateful to Paul and to the church alike, was the church's presentation of this offering in person. How should Christians respond to critical race theory? So when Paul says, "By my sufferings I fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ," what he means is that the one thing lacking in the sufferings of Christ is the offer of those sufferings in person to those for whom he died. I still would have used my life well.” Does that sound noble? The FAQs: Are Fetal Cells Being Used in COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments? Read the list in 2 Corinthians 11:23–28. The following is an edited transcript of the audio. We are to make the afflictions of Christ real for people by the afflictions we experience in offering him to them, and living the life of love he lived. The connection is mission. The reformer John Calvin provides one of the longest responses to the Salvific view of Colossians 1:24. What Does Paul Mean When He Says He Is "Filling Up What Is Lacking In Christ's Afflictions"? They were sorry and wanted to hear the message that he was willing to suffer so much to bring them. Please make sure all fields are filled out. Answer: In Colossians 1:24 Paul writes, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering 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.”. And those ministers of the gospel fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ by extending them to others. 15:8, 16, 19). He chose it as the way to create and perfect the church. Then in verse 29 Paul tells the church in Philippi to honor Epaphroditus when he comes back, and he gives his reason in verse 30 which has words very similar to Colossians 1:24. I’m an optimistic premillenialist. There is a strong confirmation of this in the use of similar words in Philippians 2:30. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. And in any case, how on earth could Paul fill them up? In and through God's people—especially missionaries—he offers himself to them. He lives in Greenville, South Carolina, with his wife, Laurel, and daughters, Lane, Kately, and Harper.