You have helped me several times, and I am hoping you are a scripturist too. A Catholic friend sent me a letter requesting that I say a novena for a very ill friend. I, of course, will not alienate him by saying that Mormons don’t say novenas, and will pray for his friend. The problem comes where he uses a quote from another version of the Bible as a scriptural basis for “needing” an intercessor other than Christ to petition Heavenly Father. All the other translations use “lacking,” whereas the KJV uses “behind.” I can’t believe that the atonement of Christ was lacking anything. What is meant by the word “behind” in the following verse? Am I just reading this out of context?Colossians 1:24 (KJV)
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.
Colossians 1:24 (NKJV) Sacrificial Service for Christ–
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.
In the first place we must understand that the scriptures are understood through the application of the Holy Spirit.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but [by] the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11)
The New Testament was first written in the Greek language, and the Greek terms have been interpreted in different ways by different translators. The Greek term for which the English translation has been given as “behind” or “lacking” is “Husterema,” for which the definition is given as a deficiency, or that which is lacking.
As you carefully read the verse in question it is apparent that Paul is referring to that which is lacking in himself, not that which is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. He says “that which is lacking [or behind]…in my flesh,” Paul is attempting to “fill up” that which he lacks, not alluding to that which the Lord may lack. That concept is against the whole tenor of the scriptures, and would be obvious to anyone who reads the scriptures with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
The Douay-Rheims Version, which is the English rendition of the Latin Vulgate (the official Catholic bible) records this verse as,
Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church.
The key here is the article “of.” It does not say “wanting in the sufferings of Christ..”, but it does say “wanting….in my flesh.” So that which is wanting (or lacking) in the flesh of Paul (or, if you will, in his character) is “of the sufferings of the Savior.” In other words, Paul is stating that he needs more of the suffering of the Savior in his own being, or in other words he needs to be more like the Savior in his willingness to suffer for the gospel’s sake.