Jesus Did, or Didn't, Do Enough On The Cross?

Recently I received a question about a verse in Colossians 1. If the verse is read alone, one would perceive it to say that the Apostle Paul had to sacrifice to add to Jesus’ work on the cross.
This fact would mean that His sacrifice for our sins was not enough. The verse to which I am referring to in Colossians 1:24 in which the Apostle Paul states "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:”

When approaching a verse like this, one must first realise that there are difficult verses in the Bible. The Apostle Peter stated in
2 Peter 3:16, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” So there are going to be…
…difficult verses, and verses in the Bible that seem to teach one thing, but are teaching something different. We need to be careful that we are not approaching the scriptures with an “isogesis” method (cherry picking verses that endorse our doctrinal beliefs), but that we use an “exegesis” approach instead (allowing the scriptures to interpret the verse(s) at hand).

First, we should view the verse in a broader context...
Colossians 1:23-25
23 "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;"
24 "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:"
25 "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;"

When the Apostle Paul speaks of filling "up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” it seems to teach that something was lacking in the sufferings of Jesus Christ. The sufferings of Jesus Christ were insufficient. If this is the meaning we draw from this one verse, it will contradict other more clear verses. For proper scriptural interpretation, especially with verses that are less clear, we need to view it in light of clearer verses. In other words, we should ask, is this what the Bible teaches in other parts? Consider these verses below.

John 19:30 "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”

Here, in
John 19:30, we see that Jesus said before he died on the cross that "It is finished”. In other words, He was stating emphatically, that there was no more work to do for salvation. He finished it, but is this seen elsewhere?

Romans 4:25 "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

Romans 4:25 we can see that Jesus was delivered for our offences (sins), and raised from the dead to justify us before God. Therefore how could we add anything when Jesus said “it is finished”, here it says He suffered for our sins, and we are justified because of His resurrection?

Hebrews 1:3 "Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”

Hebrews 1:3 the Bible is clear that Jesus purged our sins.

Def: Purge - To cleanse or purify by separating and carrying off whatever is impure

How could we add anything when Jesus said “it is finished”, He suffered for our sins, we are justified because of His resurrection, and here it also says He purged our sins?

Revelation 1:5 "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”

Here the Bible tells us that Jesus has washed us from our sins in His blood.

How could we add anything when Jesus said “it is finished”, He suffered for our sins, we are justified because of His resurrection, He purged our sins, and washed us from our sins in His own blood?

These verses, compared to the initial verse, clearly teach that in Jesus, our sins are completely gone, washed away. By using an exegetical approach to the Bible, we can see that to interpret the verses to mean Jesus didn’t do enough on the cross would contradict a slew of other verses.

Also see
Romans 3:24-25; Romans 4:25; Hebrews 7:25-27; Hebrews 10:10,12,14,19-22

Let's also look at a verse from the same Epistle of Paul to the Colossians.
Colossians 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

That word “all” means what it says, “all”. In Christ, He forgives us of ALL of our trespasses (sins).

Also consider what the Bible says in
Isaiah 64:6 which states, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

To God, all of our righteous acts, the good things we do, are considered to be as filthy rags. Our only conclusion is that there is nothing more we could do to add to the merit of Jesus Christ, because in the sight of God, ALL of our righteous deeds are, to a Holy God, as filthy, dirty rags. To say that sinful man can add to the mercy and grace by their "filthy rag” efforts and can assist themselves and others in salvation is nothing less than blasphemous and diminishes the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

So what is the Apostle Paul saying in this verse?
It seems the Apostle is not talking about Christ’s sufferings for Him being insufficient, but His own sufferings for Christ. The reason I say this is because Jesus says that he will suffer for Him on the day Paul got converted. (
Acts 9:16)

The unsaved world is at odds with God, and the Bible says that they are enemies of Him. They are in a spiritual war with Him (knowing or unknowing).

Ephesians 2:2 "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Satan), the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:"

Because the world is at odds with God, we would conclude, and the Bible verifies, that every born-again believer who lives for God is like a fish swimming upstream, and will suffer for Christ’s purpose.
2 Timothy 3:11-12
11 "Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me."
12 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

Barnes states, concerning this passage in
Colossians 1, “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.”

The Apostle Paul stated after (
verse 24) the verse that we are talking about…
Colossians 1:25 "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation (distribution) of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;”

The apostle Paul is was saying that God had a certain amount of suffering that he was going to have to face in His life as He lived for Jesus. Matthew Henry states that Paul “had a certain rate and measure of suffering for Christ assigned him; and, as his sufferings were agreeable to that appointment, so he was still filling up more and more what was behind, or remained of them to his share”. So Paul had His share of suffering, as was stated in
Acts 9:16, and he willingly accepted it (2 Corinthians 1:3-10).

Are we willing to endure suffering for living our lives for God?

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(At An Carraig Baptist Church, we take a literal, fundamental approach to the Bible (AV 1611). We are also a local, independent body of believers, which means we are not subject to any religious hierarchy. Being "Baptist" means, we hold to the Bible-based, Baptist Distinctives, that has been the hallmark of true Baptist churches through the centuries. You are welcome to join us at any of our weekly meetings, or schedule to meet for tea/coffee.)