on Colossians 1 :24
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.
on Colossians 1 :24
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 Philippians 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.
on Colossians 1 :24
1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up - That is, whereby I fill up. That which is behind of the sufferings of Christ - That which remains to be suffered by his members. These are termed the sufferings of Christ, Because the suffering of any member is the suffering of the whole; and of the head especially, which supplies strength, spirits, sense, and motion to all. Because they are for his sake, for the testimony of his truth. And these also are necessary for the church; not to reconcile it to God, or satisfy for sin, (for that Christ did perfectly,) but for example to others, perfecting of the saints, and increasing their reward.