Were Christ’s Afflictions Lacking?

Q. I recently listened to a Catholic talk show because a known former Catholic and now born again Christian was invited on it. The host brought up the fact that Christ’s suffering was lacking by, I feel, misquoting Colossians 1:24. Please speak on this verse for me. And thank you for all the hard work and time you put into this site.

A. Colossians 1:24 reads,

“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.”

Based on his other writings, we know that Paul did not believe the Lord’s suffering was incomplete or lacking in any way. What was lacking was the means of communicating this great truth to the gentile world. This task fell to Paul, who suffered greatly in its performance. This is what Paul was referring to by the phrase “fill up in my flesh what is still lacking”. This is made clear in verses 25-27.

“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness– the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

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