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Suffering for the Body

Suffering for the Body

Words of Faith 10-16-19

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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Colossians 1

[24] 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.  


       We sometimes pause to ask: What is the meaning suffering? Why does pain happen? And how in the world could someone rejoice in it?  This is largely a mystery. But part of the answer is here. Paul understood that his own suffering was not without meaning.  Just as the suffering of Christ brought about reconciliation for believers, his suffering was effective on behalf of the Colossians in a different way-- filling up the continuing work of Christ in this world.

        Remember that Paul was writing from a prison in Rome. He had suffered throughout his ministry being beaten, whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, and left for dead (2 Cor. 11:23-29). He had lived in poverty and amid wealth. But these sufferings had been of benefit to the church, and he rejoiced in that. Paul rejoiced that he was able to suffer for the Colossians what was still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions. 

        Now, wait a minute. How could that be? Some might mistakenly infer that Paul was suggesting that Christ's redeeming work was insufficient and needed supplementing. Nothing could be further from Paul's mind. Paul was not saying that Christ's suffering on the cross was insufficient. Scripture is clear that it was the sacrifice of God in Christ that won our salvation (Romans 3:21-26).  God declared in the letter to the Hebrews that by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (10:14).

        No, Paul wasn't talking about salvation here; he was talking about service. He was talking about the continuing work of the Gospel. The suffering of Jesus alone secures salvation, but it is a believer's privilege to suffer for Christ and the cause of the Gospel, should that be the calling of God. As Peter wrote, "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. 'Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened'" (1 Peter 3:13-14).

       The “afflictions” (thlipsis) Paul talks about refers to distress, pressure, or trouble.  It is a word that is never used to describe the suffering of Jesus.  It is a word that normally describes the trials in life, not the pains of death.

        Christ's suffering for us is complete.  He declared: It is finished (John 19:30).  Christ does not continue to suffer for our salvation but He does indeed continue to suffer when Christians suffer for Him.  Jesus asked Saul on the Damascus Road, “Why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4) Since the church is Christ's body, He is affected when it is affected. And for the sake of Christ's body, Paul willingly suffered. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him but also to suffer for him (1:29).


      Father God, teach me how to walk with You in times of need and suffering as well as in times of peace and plenty.  Teach me the deeper journey of peace that is only in You.  Show me how it is that I am to fill the continuing need of the Gospel even in denying myself and taking up my cross to follow You.  Teach me the deep and quiet trust that can see suffering for You as a privilege.  In Jesus' Name. 


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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail, and our website, and our church app, excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.  

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