Rejoice in my sufferings for you - St. Paul always considers his persecutions, as far as the Jews were concerned in them, as arising from this simple circumstance - his asserting that God had chosen the Gentiles, and called them to enjoy the very same privileges with the Jews, and to constitute one Church with them.
It was on this account that the Jews attempted his life at Jerusalem, when, in order to save it, he was obliged to appeal to Caesar; the consequences of which persecution he was now suffering in his imprisonment in Rome. See on Colossians 4:2; (note).
That which is behind of the afflictions of Christ - I have still some afflictions to pass through before my race of glory be finished; afflictions which fall on me on account of the Gospel; such as Christ bore from the same persecuting people.
It is worthy of remark that the apostle does not say παθηματα, the passion of Christ, but simply θλιψεις, the afflictions; such as are common to all good men who bear a testimony against the ways and fashions of a wicked world. In these the apostle had his share, in the passion of Christ he could have none. He trod the wine press alone, of the people there were none with him.
His body's sake - Believers, both of Jews and Gentiles, who form that one body, of which Christ is the head.
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you - For you as a part of the Gentile world. It was not for the Colossians alone, but he regarded himself as suffering on account of his labors in preaching to the pagan at large. His trials at Rome had come upon him because he had maintained that the wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down, and that the gospel was to be preached indiscriminately to all mankind; see this illustrated in the introduction, Section 5.
And fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ - That which I lack of coming up to the sufferings which Christ endured in the cause of the church. The apostle seems to mean:
(1)that be suffered in the same cause as that for which Christ suffered;
(2)that he endured the same kind of sufferings, to some extent, in reproaches, persecutions, and opposition from the world;
(3)that he had not yet suffered as much as Christ did in this cause, and, though be had suffered greatly, yet there was much that was lacking to make him equal in this respect to the Saviour; and,
(4)that he felt that it was an object to be earnestly desired to be made in all respects just like Christ, and that in his present circumstances he was fast filling up that which was lacking, so that he would have a more complete resemblance to him.
What he says here is based on the leading desire of his soul - the great principle of his life - to be just like Christ; alike in moral character, in suffering, and in destiny; see the notes at Philemon 3:10. Having this strong wish, he had been led to pursue a course of life which conducted him through trials strongly resembling those which Christ himself endured; and, as fast as possible, he was filling up that in which he now fell short. He does not mean that there was anything lacking or deficient in the sufferings which Christ endured in making an atonement which was to be supplied by his followers, so that their merits might be added to his in order to secure the salvation of men, as the Romanists seem to suppose; but that there was still much lacking on his part before he should be entirely conformed to the Saviour in his sufferings, and that his present condition was such as rapidly to fill that up. This seems to me to be the fair meaning of this expressions though not the one commonly given. The usual interpretation is, “that which remains to me of affliction to be endured in the cause of Christ.” But this seems to me to be cold and tame, and not to suit the genius of Paul.
In my flesh - In bodily sufferings.
For his body‘s sake, which is the church - See the notes at Ephesians 1:23.
“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” 1 John 3:1. And Christ says, “As Thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18)—to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, ... for His body's sake, which is the church.” Colossians 1:24. Every soul whom Christ has rescued is called to work in His name for the saving of the lost. This work had been neglected in Israel. Is it not neglected today by those who profess to be Christ's followers? COL 191.1
How many of the wandering ones have you, reader, sought for and brought back to the fold? When you turn from those who seem unpromising and unattractive, do you realize that you are neglecting the souls for whom Christ is seeking? At the very time when you turn from them, they may be in the greatest need of your compassion. In every assembly for worship, there are souls longing for rest and peace. They may appear to be living careless lives, but they are not insensible to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Many among them might be won for Christ. COL 191.2
If the lost sheep is not brought back to the fold, it wanders until it perishes. And many souls go down to ruin for want of a hand stretched out to save. These erring ones may appear hard and reckless; but if they had received the same advantages that others have had, they might have revealed far more nobility of soul, and greater talent for usefulness. Angels pity these wandering ones. Angels weep, while human eyes are dry and hearts are closed to pity. COL 191.3Read in context »
Sermon on Colossians 1:24-29—Brother D. T. Bourdeau spoke in the early morning meeting. In the afternoon I spoke to the people from Colossians 1:24-29. I felt great weakness before going into the desk. I pleaded most earnestly with God in prayer to help me and to bless the people in a special manner. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon me and upon the people. I was followed by three interpreters—German, French, and Danish—but this did not embarrass me in the least. The heavenly angels were in our midst. I was blessed in speaking, the people blessed in hearing. I cannot see but that my message is having a better impression than on the minds of my American brethren and sisters. VSS 399.2Read in context »
6 (John 1:1-3, 14; see EGW on John 1:1-3; Revelation 12:10). Equality Between Christ and the Father—Christ's position with His Father is one of equality. This enabled Him to become a sin-offering for transgressors. He was fully sufficient to magnify the law and make it honorable (Manuscript 48, 1893). 7BC 905.1Read in context »
Please read the second and third chapters of Philippians, and the first chapter of Colossians. There are lessons there that we all should study. Paul writes, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.... Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain.” “I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” TM 221.1
Our workers should use the greatest wisdom, so that nothing shall be said to provoke the armies of Satan and to stir up his united confederacy of evil. Christ did not dare to bring a railing accusation against the prince of evil, and is it proper that we should bring such accusation as will set in operation the agencies of evil, the confederacies of men that are leagued with evil spirits? Christ was the only-begotten Son of the infinite God, He was the Commander in the heavenly courts, yet He refrained from bringing accusation against Satan. Speaking of Him, Isaiah says, “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” TM 222.1Read in context »