NOW I (continually)
REJOICE: Nun chairo
(2Co 7:4, 2Cor 11:16-33, Php
2:17-18, Mt 5:11 Ro 5:3)
your joy in ministry?
and scroll to "Attitude of Joy"
Regarding the word "Now" W E Vine writes
looks back over the past of the Lord’s dealings with him. His
sufferings were manifold and were more than that of imprisonment.
While they were endured for Christ’s sake, they were for the benefit
of the Colossian believers, who would not have received the spiritual
help had it not been for what he had suffered and was suffering."
S. Lewis Johnson writes that
in my present circumstances, Paul declares, there is a deep sense of
joy in my personal sufferings for you Colossians. His general meaning
is clear, but this verse, the twenty-fourth, is probably the most
controversial in the letter. We may introduce the problem of the text
by rejecting any suggestion to the effect that Paul implies there is
any lack in the atonement of Christ. The gospel has an element of
finality in it, if it has any element at all."
(Bibliotheca Sacra: Page 235, 1996, Dallas Theological Seminary)
(chairo) means to be glad and
present tense, active voice (this voice calling for a volitional
choice of one's will) indicating that Paul continually made the choice
to rejoice in the midst of his suffering for Christ. This word is used to describe a little lamb skipping around for joy. It
describes a physical change in your countenance. You can't fake this.
It is a physical expression of joy and something that radiates to
people around you. You can walk around and say that you are rejoicing
but if it's not seen then you are not rejoicing. This was a clear
indication of Paul manifesting the fruit of the Spirit (joy), which is
independent of his circumstances. Paul action is a visible expression of
the inner reality of the fruit of the Spirit. Remember Paul was in prison
(Col 4:18-note). Only a
Spirit controlled Christian can rejoice under such circumstances...the
joy of the Lord was Paul's strength (Neh 8:10).
Whose strength do you rely on when suffering? Yours or His?
learned how to be content in whatever circumstances he was in (Php
On another occasion, despite being in a Philippian jail
midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to
God, and the prisoners were listening to them" (Acts 16:25)
After being flogged for speaking in
the name of Jesus, Peter and others were released from jail and
"went on their way from the presence of the
Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer
shame for His name." (Acts 5:41)
These men did had experienced
suffering and used those times as a divine classroom to learn the
secret it wasn't within their own power to suffer joyfully, but that
they could do "all things through Him Who" strengthened them in those
times of suffering. Don't waste those times you suffer for Jesus.
Learn the lessons He desires to teach you and you too will begin to
rejoice in your suffering.
John MacArthur notes that in ministry
(and every believer is a minister - albeit not necessarily a pastor)
there are 4 "Thieves Of Joy"
On the other hand he summarizes the three
guardians that protect one's joy as
(2) devotion to
(3) trust in God.
IN MY SUFFERINGS FOR YOUR SAKE: en tois pathemasin huper humon:
20:9 Acts 9:16, Col 4:18, 1Pe 2:21, 2Co 1:5)
[word study] from
páscho = suffer + suffix –ma = that
which is suffered, experience a sensation/suffer pain) refers to the
actual suffering itself (not suffering in general). In other words, it
describes the very pain that one is experiencing right now, those very
things that we can "see, touch & feel", those things that are causing
us anguish and emotional trauma. A less common meaning of pathema (not
the meaning in this context) is passions or impulses.
For your sake
(huper) speaks of substitution or in your place.
Have you ever asked yourself, how many prayers and tears, how much
heartache and disappointment has someone gone through for you in order
that you might come to Christ? We should never read the Scriptures
without a momentary thought, at least, of what it cost others for us
to have this Bible in our hand: the blood of martyrs, the fears and
tears of persecuted people throughout centuries, the sweat and labor
of translators, and the effort of teachers to make it plain and clear.
Never read the Scriptures without remembering that someone has died to
make it possible.
Suffering not only benefits others but it benefits us as well. That is
why Paul says, "I rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf." "It does
something for me," he says. "It keeps me usable. I am reminded
constantly that it is out of weakness that I am made strong." That is
what suffering for others will do for us: it will keep us humble and
useful. But it also has great effect upon others: it shows them that
we are deeply concerned. We pray for them, we long for them, we grieve
over them, we hurt when they hurt. That is the process by which others
come to Christ.
AND IN MY FLESH I DO MY
SHARE ON BEHALF OF THE BODY WHICH IS THE CHURCH IN FILLING UP: kai antanaplero (1SPAI) ta husteremata ton thlipseon tou Christou en te
sarki mou huper tou somatos autou, o estin (3SPAI) e ekklesia:
(2Co 1:5-8 4:8-12 11:23-27 Php 3:10 2Ti 1:8 2:9-10)
up (466) (antanapleroo
from antí = in turn or correspondent to +
anapleróo = to fulfill from ana = again +
pleroo [word study] = to fill) means to fill up instead of, to make good.
This verb is used a secular Greek writing to describe one group of
soldiers filling a road, and a second group forming another line.
Paul rejoices in supplying what his Master has left him to suffer.
After receiving his apostolic assignment, Paul assumes the burden of
sufferings that would befall Christ were the latter to undertake the
apostolic mission in person. It is now Paul's "turn" at the bat, to use a baseball figure. Christ
had His "turn," the grandest of all and suffered for us all in a sense
not true of any one else. And yet Christ did not cause suffering to
cease and as we allow Christ to live out His life through us we will also
experience suffering. So one of the purposes of the church, Christ's
visible body during this age, is to suffer for the sake of
righteousness (1Pe 3:14-note). Christ suffered for believers and declared
that in this world His disciples would have tribulation (Jn 16:33), so
now each believer as he conforms to Christ's example takes his turn
so to speak in suffering for the sake of Christ (Php 1:29,30-note).
John MacArthur explains this verse
"The enemies of Christ were never satisfied with what
they did to Jesus. They hated Jesus with an insatiable hate. They
wanted to add to His suffering. So, as soon as Jesus ascended back
into heaven and wasn't around any more, who did the world attack?
The church! They began to persecute the church--whipping them,
burning them at the stake, throwing them to the lions. Why? Was it
because they hated them individually? No, it was because the church
stood in the place of Christ. And since Christ wasn't around to
hate, they hated the people who stood in His place."
To reiterate, remember that the
redemptive suffering of Christ has no deficiency, but He does
not exhaust all the suffering to be endured in the redemptive
purpose of God. The sufferings of Paul do not add to the finished
work of redemption but are incurred in making known the redeeming
work of Christ to the Gentiles. The afflictions of every believer
supplement those of Christ.
Paul boasted about his suffering on behalf of the body of Christ
"Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as if insane) I
more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times
without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from
the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods,
once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day
I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in
dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my
countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers
in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren;
I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in
hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart
from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of
concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who
is led into sin without my intense concern? If I have to boast, I
will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of
the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not
lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding
the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down
in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands."
is attaching no atoning
value whatever to his sufferings for the church.
has an excellent comment:
that Paul didn't suffer for himself the way that an ascetic
might. Instead he suffered for the sake of the body of Christ.
Ascetics focus on their holiness, on their spiritual
growth, and on their perfection. Paul followed in the
footsteps of Jesus, and was an others-centered person.
Instead, Paul found holiness, spiritual growth, and maturity when he
pursued them for others.
(ekklesia from ek = out + kaleo = call) is
literally the "called-out ones". Greeks used ekklesia for an
assembly of citizens "called out" to transact city business. The
church is not an organization but a living organism, Christ's body,
composed of individual members (believers) joined together and in
and through which Christ, the Head works, carries out His purposes
Ekklesia - 114x in 111v -
Matt 16:18; 18:17; Acts 5:11; 7:38; 8:1, 3; 9:31; 11:22, 26; 12:1,
5; 13:1; 14:23, 27; 15:3f, 22, 41; 16:5; 18:22; 19:32, 39f; 20:17,
28; Rom 16:1, 4f, 16, 23; 1 Cor 1:2; 4:17; 6:4; 7:17; 10:32; 11:16,
18, 22; 12:28; 14:4f, 12, 19, 23, 28, 33ff; 15:9; 16:1, 19; 2 Cor
1:1; 8:1, 18f, 23f; 11:8, 28; 12:13; Gal 1:2, 13, 22; Eph 1:22;
3:10, 21; 5:23ff, 27, 29, 32; Phil 3:6; 4:15; Col 1:18, 24; 4:15f; 1
Thess 1:1; 2:14; 2 Thess 1:1, 4; 1 Tim 3:5, 15; 5:16; Phlm 1:2; Heb
2:12; 12:23; Jas 5:14; 3 John 1:6, 9f; Rev 1:4, 11, 20; 2:1, 7f,
11f, 17f, 23, 29; 3:1, 6f, 13f, 22; 22:16. NAS =
assembly(3), church(74), churches(35), congregation(2).
THAT WHICH IS LACKING IN CHRIST'S AFFLICTIONS: ta husterêmata ton thlipseon tou Christou:
(husterema) is that which is behind, that which is lacking or
that which is deficient. The root verb
hustereo [word study]
someone in a company marching together with others who march faster
than he can. He cannot keep up, so he falls behind (he is "lacks" in
the sense he cannot keep up).
Paul used the verb "fill up"
meaning in essence "I take my turn in filling up. I take my turn in
suffering." Each one of us takes our turn in suffering for our
Covenant Partner Christ Jesus, for the world hated Him and it will
likewise hate us! So don't act so surprised. Paul's picture here is
like a relay race. He is saying that I will run this lap, and hand
the baton off to you to run your lap, etc., etc.
"because of the union of believers with Christ, Paul's
sufferings for the sake of the church can be called Christ's
afflictions as well." (The
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody
Clearly Paul is not saying that Jesus' suffering on the Cross was in
any way deficient to fully atone for the sins of the world because
earlier (which accentuates the importance of carefully observing the
in order to arrive at the most accurate interpretation) Paul declared that reconciliation of all
things was through Christ because He
"made peace (aorist
tense = past completed effective action) through the blood of His
cross"... and that Christ "has now reconciled (aorist
tense = past completed effective action) you in His fleshly body
through death." (see notes
Christ's sacrificial suffering on
the Cross paid the price of redemption in full, John recording
When Jesus therefore had received
the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" (Paid in full!) And He
bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. (Jn 19:30).
(2347) (thlipsis from thlibo = to press
together) conveys the basic idea of severe constriction,
narrowing or pressing together (as of grapes) (cf Mt 7:14
- note "the way is narrow
[thlibo] that leads to life"). It is notable that the word
thlipsis is never used in the New Testament of the atoning
sufferings of Christ substantiating that the afflictions alluded to
here have nothing to do with atonement.
S. Lewis Johnson has the
following comments on the interpretation of this somewhat
controversial passage writing
"I am inclined to see a much closer
relationship between the apostle’s afflictions and Christ. From the
day when Paul met the risen Messiah and heard His “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me”
(Acts 9:4), identification with Christ in mystical union (I use
“mystical” in the true sense) dominated his theological thinking.
Soon afterwards he heard of further words spoken by Him, “For I will
shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake” (Acts
9:16). Paul had come to understand that everything done in and for
the body of Christ was done in and for Christ Himself. He and the
body were one. Thus, the sufferings of Paul were the afflictions of
Christ, because He suffered in and with Paul (cf. 2Cor 1:5, 6, 7;
2Cor. 4:10, 11, 12). Lightfoot’s idea of continuity between His
afflictions and the church’s is valid, too. In fact, the sufferings
of Paul, which arose out of persecution, were simply the
continuation of the world’s quarrel with Jesus Christ (cf. John
15:18, 19, 20, 21). It is a very immature theology, then, which
claims that all suffering is alien to the will of God, and it
reaches its ultimate expression in the blind and foolish request,
“If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matt. 27:40),
and its shattering repudiation in the shout of suffering
dereliction, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt.
27:46) It is no wonder, then, that Paul rejoiced in his sufferings.
Seen in the light of his union with Christ, they were transfigured
and made an occasion for fellowship with Him, as well as a benefit
to the body, the church”. (Bibliotheca Sacra: Page 235, 1996,
Dallas Theological Seminary)
What Paul is saying is that he knew suffering was inevitable and he
took his turn to suffer not only for the body of believers at Colossae but for the whole body
of Christ. Even today we read Colossians and gain encouragement
from the example of Paul's suffering. That's what happens when we are
willing to take our turn and suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is Christ's physical body on earth and as Christ manifests
His presence in our life, we are going to go through the same type of
suffering that He went through. This is what is left behind or
"lacking in Christ's afflictions". As the result of what He did we are
going through the same thing. If you let Jesus be the center of your
life then look out! Love Jesus. Preach the Word and duck! You're going
to catch flack. Christ in us is the same One that they persecuted
while He was on the earth.
What does Paul mean "for your sake"?
Our suffering for Christ is never isolated from our responsibility to
the body of Christ around us. The way you are handling your suffering
right now directly affects the body of Christ. It affects the
testimony of other believers. When we are faithful to suffer with the
same attitude that Paul had, it encourages and enhances the
integrity of Christianity to the rest of the body of Christ.
Paul also wrote from prison in (Php 1:12, 13-see notes
"Now I want you to know,
brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater
progress of the gospel so that my imprisonment in the cause of
Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard
(these guards were chained with Paul) and
to everyone else. ." .
In Philippians 4:22 Paul wrote
"All the saints greet you, especially those of
Caesar's household." (see
So his suffering in prison
resulted in the spread of the gospel.
Paul continues in (Philippians
"and that most of the
brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far
more courage to speak the word of God without fear." (see
that even though Paul was imprisoned at Rome, he never saw himself
as a prisoner of Rome but constantly referred to being a prisoner of
Jesus Christ. A proper perspective on suffering can makes the ordeal
much easier to walk through. Do you see your suffering in the light
of eternity? Ask God to give you His eternal perspective on your
John MacArthur reminds believers
why we can suffer with an eternal perspective, writing that
suffering "brings us nearer to Christ".
in Php 3:10
(see note) was
"That I may know
Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His
sufferings...." (cf Jn 15:20, 2Ti 3:12
us assurance of salvation" for as Peter writes (Amplified
"if you are censured and suffer abuse [because you bear]
the name of Christ, blessed [are you--happy, fortunate, to be
envied, with life-joy, and satisfaction in God's favor and
salvation, regardless of your outward condition], because the Spirit
of glory, the Spirit of God, is resting upon you. On their part He
is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.." (1Pe 4:14-note)
As someone has written the Spirit rests upon the Christian even as
the Shechinah cloud of the glory of the LORD rested upon the
tabernacle and over the Ark in the Holy of holies.
"God would impart his Spirit...in proportion to their
sufferings in behalf of (Christ)...and this is the secret
reason why they are so sustained in their trials. Their persecutions
are made the reason of a much more copious effusion of the Spirit on
their souls. The same principle applies, doubtless, to all the forms
of trial which the children of God pass through; and in sickness,
bereavement, loss of property, disappointment in their worldly
plans, and death itself, they may hope that larger measures of the
Spirit’s influences will rest upon them. Hence, it is often gain to
the believer to suffer."
MacArthur goes on to add that suffering
"brings us future reward" which is alluded to by Paul
in Romans where he writes that "
I consider that the sufferings of
this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that
is to be revealed to us." (Ro 8:18-note).
Suffering now will be rewarded in eternity future. Suffering also "results
in the salvation of others" and encourages their faith for
in (Php 2:17, 18-see notes
writes (God's Word Translation) that
"My life is being poured out
as a part of the sacrifice and service I offer to God for your
faith. Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of
you." (cf Acts 16:25ff).
you ever suffered or been persecuted for being a Christian?
why not (2Ti 3:12
- note)? If you have, what was
your attitude (1Pe 4:12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19-see notes
1Pe 4:12; 13; 14; 15; 16;
When you suffer with a rejoicing
attitude in your heart, you can do so knowing that you can are
taking your turn, going through whatever you need to go through for
the glory of God and that you are doing so on behalf of the body.
This will in turn encourage other believers and adds integrity to
the life changing message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The blood
of all the martyrs that has been shed taking their stand for the
Lord Jesus Christ has added just one more level of integrity to what
we profess to believe. Next time you are called to suffer for His
sake, don't retreat...rejoice
because you know that
"momentary, light affliction is
producing...an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things
which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but
the things which are not seen are eternal." (2Co 4:17-18-note)
J R Miller - Who… fill up that
which is behind of the afflictions of Christ. - Colossians 1:24
This is a strange saying of Paul's in our reading to-day - that he
must fill up on his part the afflictions of Christ.
Was Christ's sacrifice insufficient for the redemption of the world?
Was His work incomplete? Do others have to suffer also to fill up a
lack in His atonement? No; on His cross He said, "It is finished."
He paid the whole price.
What Paul meant was that while Christ had made a full and glorious
redemption, His followers must enter into His experiences in order
to present the benefits of His redemption.
We can make men believe in the love of Christ only by loving as He
loved. We can show them the cross truly only in our own lives.
Christ gave Himself once to redeem the world; now we, His followers,
must give ourselves to make His redemption real to the world. When
we ask Christ to have compassion on men, His answer is: "I have had
compassion - My part is finished. Now do you have compassion and
reach and save men?"