“at that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem”. Persecution here is from the Greek word “dogmas” meaning, “the hatred and affliction that follows the witness and holy life of God’s people in a hostile world”. Paul states in II Thes. 1:4, “for your patience and faith in your persecutions and tribulations”. II Cor. 12:10, Paul states, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distress, for Christ’s sake”. Christ in the sermon on Mount stated, “rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you”. Matthew 5:12
Paul makes statement in Col. 1:24, “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is (still) lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church”. What did Paul mean, “he () Paul) filled up in his flesh what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ”? The early Christians saw the persecution of Jesus followers as a part of Christ’s redemptive suffering, “filling up what was lacking in the afflictions of Christ”.
Thought being, as Christ, as the coming Messiah was to suffer in flesh, in bringing the “Kingdom of God into existence”, so must His followers. We know that Christ death was sufficient payment of our sins. Paul states his sufferings for Christ sake was still lacking. Paul had not yet endured the sufferings that Christ went through. II Cor. 1:5, Paul talks about, “sharing in the sufferings of Christ”. Paul suffer many things in his life, but his thought was, “I have not yet suffered” as Christ had been.
We today suffer, have persecutions, but not yet as our Lord did.
- CL Bruner