How on earth can someone rejoice in suffering? Here’s Colossians 1:24-26 in a visual diagram that emphasises the two main verbs in this sentence –
- 1.) Rejoice, and
- 2.) Filling up.
There are two fascinating ideas presented in this sentence: 1.) Paul says that he is rejoicing in his sufferings! This begs the question: “How can he rejoice while suffering?” This is so contrary to what is natural.
The answer, I believe is seen in the second part of the sentence: 2.) Paul says that he fills up in his body (flesh) what is “lacking in Christ’s afflictions”. Again, this seems contradictory – how can there be any insufficiency in what Christ has suffered? Did not his sufferings accomplish our salvation effectively? So then, what can be lacking in Christ’s afflictions?
Rejoice in Suffering for the Gospel
Christ’s sufferings has indeed accomplished salvation for us. However, what is lacking is for people to be made aware of Christ’s salvation offered freely to all made possible through His sufferings. That means someone needs to tell them:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?”Romans 10:14 ESV
As in the Apostle Paul’s case, preaching the Gospel often comes with persecution and suffering. Paul was actually writing the letter of Colossians from prison. But Paul REJOICES in his sufferings because he realises that he is FILLING UP what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions – He is PROCLAIMING salvation – the reason for his REJOICING – people are being SAVED!! Even though it is necessary to SUFFER in order to proclaim this good news, it is not only WORTH the SUFFERING, it is worth REJOICING about.
I plan to update this video soon with some comments about the syntax and how it shows the emphasis of the sentence.
Point of interest: In the Greek New Testament, the sentence starts at verse 24 and ends at verse 29.
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