Protestants: Sola Fide?


How can you suggest such a thing when you have

Col 1:24

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:

What does this verse mean to you, your church, your leaders,etc.

God Bless


it might be easier to just point out james book and the very straightforward (and rather undebateable):
Faith without works is dead.


I know, but I’m curious to see what sort of interpretations you have to come up with to avoid the “in my flesh” part. I’m really waiting for them to say some about picking up your daily cross and then ask them if they really think that is faith alone.




Hi, Hail Mary. I’m not sure I follow the relevance of this verse to the Protestant doctrines of justification. Paul is talking about how much he has suffered in spreading the Gospel message. He is saying that on top of Jesus’s suffering, Paul himself has had to suffer a great deal, but he rejoices in that suffering. Perhaps if you could explain why you think this passage undermines the view that we are saved by faith, we may be able to provide a more helpful response.

Best regards,



I didn’t say that; Sola Fide means “Faith ALONE”.

My question is how can it be faith alone is you need to suffer in the flesh as the Holy Bible, by the hands of St. Paul, through the Inspirations of the Holy Spirit, says otherwise?


Thanks for the clarification. My own answer is that I don’t read that passage as suggesting that one needs to suffer to be saved. Nothing in the text or the context appears to indicate that.




What did Jesus mean when He said:

Mark 8:34-35

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it

Are you suggesting that the cross does not include suffering (recall Isaiah 53)? Obviously the cross involved suffering, hence, suffering is necessary for salvation.


HailMary, I’m not blaming you – the fault is probably mine for failing to understand your point. It certainly seems clear, wholly apart from Mark 8, that Jesus suffered a painful death on the cross. Crucifixion was an agonizing way to die. If anything I wrote suggested that Jesus didn’t suffer, I certainly retract any such implication. I was just responding to your citation of Colossians 1:24. I don’t see how that verse even arguably suggests that a Christian must suffer in the flesh in order to be saved. In that passage, Paul is explaining that he rejoices in his sufferings. I don’t see any explicit or implicit reference to justification in that verse.




Well said


CThomas: I think you’re missing HailMary’s plain language. She did not write that St Paul “even arguably suggests that a Christian must suffer in the flesh to be saved.”

What she is asking is very straightforward. St Paul (here and elsewhere as well as our Lord’s words themselves) stresses that physical sufferings (which St Paul regards as mirroring those sufferings of Jesus) are a NECESSARY and REQUIRED discipline for spreading the Good News.

HailMary reiterated her point with the reference to St Mark’s Gospel.

Why is it that the ONLY place in the Bible which mentions “by faith alone” does so to exclude salvation by that Protestant doctrine??

Sursum Corda



Hi, Robert. I disagree that Paul says – in this passage, at least – that suffering is a necessary and required discipline for spreading the Good News. But even if it did, that would in no sense contravene any Protestant doctrines of justification. There are all sorts of required conduct for Christians in the Bible. Sola fide doesn’t question that in the least.

In any event, in answer to your question, I’d be happy to discuss the passage from James you allude to, because I actually have long wondered why Catholics place so much emphasis on it. To me it seems unproblematic and I don’t see how it supports the Catholic view of justification. But turning to James would probably be beyond the scope of this Colossians question.




Start a new thread, my friend, it is a good idea.

I can’t disagree with St Paul. If I did on this or any other passage I would feel uncomfortable with, I’d be a Protestant. Or a cafeteria Catholic (a little more applesauce, please, and no thank you, I am allergic to lima beans).

We’re NOT ‘People of the Book’ (sorry, Muslims) we are people of God, of the living Word, Jesus the Messiah. All these NT letters and Gospels were discerned in the early centuries as being close to or exact with Jesus’ ORAL teachings to his Apostles and Disciples. St Paul’s writings are the oldest and closest ones we have to the earthly times of Jesus’ ministry.

This is why Catholics put MORE emphasis on Jesus and his teachings as described and referenced in the NT because BEFORE the assembling of the Bible (from among many Jewish scrolls and early Christian codices) all that was passed on in TEACHING was “hearing the Word of God,” i.e., Jesus from those bishops (disciples who were chosen by older disciples who were chosen by older disciples who were chosen by the remaining Apostles).

In other words, we have the Bible we have today because the Catholic Church has always taught what the Bible references. The Bible was not assembled prior to Pentacost 33 AD in order to delineate what a Christian believes or to organize the nascent ‘gatherings’ into a worldwide Church.

If you understand this, you will better form your questions about what Catholics believe and why.



Here are some other references that speak of how suffering is intrinsic to Christan living (whether suffering in the flesh or spiritual suffering).

Mat 5:11
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.

Matt. 10:38 - Jesus said, “he who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Jesus defines discipleship as one’s willingness to suffer with Him. Being a disciple of Jesus not only means having faith in Him, but offering our sufferings to the Father as He did.

Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34 - Jesus said, “if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Jesus wants us to empty ourselves so that God can fill us. When we suffer, we can choose to seek consolation in God and become closer to Jesus.

Luke 9:23 - Jesus says we must take up this cross daily. He requires us to join our daily temporal sacrifices (pain, inconvenience, worry) with His eternal sacrifice.

Luke 14:27 - Jesus said, “whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” If we reject God because we suffer, we fail to apply the graces that Jesus won for us by His suffering.

John 7:39 - Jesus was first glorified on the cross, not just the resurrection. This text refers to John 19:34, when Jesus was pierced on the cross by the soldier’s lance.

John 12:24 - unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone and bears no fruit. Jesus is teaching that suffering and death are part of every human life, and it is only through suffering and death that we obtain the glory of resurrection.

Rom. 5:2-3 - Paul says that more than rejoicing in our hope, we rejoice in our sufferings which produces endurance, character and hope. Through faith, suffering brings about hope in God and, through endurance, salvation.

Rom. 8:17 - Paul says that we are heirs with Christ, but only if we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with Him. Paul is teaching that suffering must be embraced in order to obtain the glory that the Father has bestowed upon Jesus.


Rom. 8:18 - the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. We thus have hope that any sufferings we or others endure, no matter how difficult, will pale in comparison to the life of eternal bliss that awaits us.

1 Cor. 1:23- Paul preaches a Christ crucified, not just risen. Catholic spirituality focuses on the sacrifice of Christ which is the only means to the resurrection. This is why Catholic churches have crucifixes with the corpus of Jesus affixed to them. Many Protestant churches no longer display the corpus of Jesus (only an empty cross). Thus, they only preach a Christ risen, not crucified.

1 Cor. 2:2 - Paul preaches Jesus Christ and Him crucified. While the cross was the scandal of scandals, and is viewed by the non-Christian eye as defeat, Catholic spirituality has always exalted the paradox of the cross as the true tree of life and our means to salvation.

2 Cor. 1:5-7- if we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort as well. If we unite our sufferings with His, we will be comforted by Him.

2 Cor. 4:10 – Paul writes that we always carry in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. Christ has allowed room in His Body for our sufferings, and our sufferings allow room for Christ to bring us to life.

2 Cor. 4:11 - while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake so that His life may be manifested in our flesh. This proves the Catholic position that our sufferings on earth are united with Jesus in order to bring about Jesus’ life in us.

2 Cor. 12:9-10 - Jesus’ grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in weakness. If we are weak, we are strong in Christ. Our self-sufficiency decreases, so Christ in us can increase.

Eph. 3:13 - Do not to lose heart over my sufferings for your glory. Our suffering also benefits others in the mystical body of Christ.

Phil. 1:29 - for the sake of Christ we are not only to believe in Him but also to suffer for His sake. Growing in holiness requires more than having faith in God and accepting Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. We must also willfully embrace the suffering that befalls us as part of God’s plan. Thus, Christ does not want our faith alone, but our faith in action which includes faith in suffering.

Phil. 3:10 - Paul desires to share in Christ’s sufferings in order to obtain the resurrection. Paul recognizes the efficacy of suffering as a means of obtaining holiness which leads to resurrection and eternal life. There is no Easter Sunday without Good Friday.

Col. 1:24 - Paul rejoices in his sufferings and completes what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body. This proves the Catholic position regarding the efficacy of suffering. Is there something lacking in Christ’s sufferings? Of course not. But because Jesus loves us so much, He allows us to participate in His redemptive suffering by leaving room in His mystical body for our own suffering. Our suffering, united with our Lord’s suffering, furthers the work of His redemption.

2 Thess. 1:5 - we may be made worthy of the kingdom of God for which we are suffering. This is because suffering causes us to turn to God and purifies us from sin.

2 Tim. 1:8 - Paul instructs Timothy to share in suffering for the Gospel. Suffering is not to be asked for, but it is also not to be avoided. For the sake of the Gospel, it is to be embraced.

2 Tim. 2:3 - Paul says to take our share of sufferings as a good soldier in Christ. Sufferings atone for the temporal effects of our sin.

2 Tim. 3:12 - all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But this persecution unites us more closely to Jesus and repairs our relationship with God.

2 Tim. 4:5 - Paul instructs Timothy to endure suffering to fulfill his ministry. As evangelists, we suffer with Christ for the Gospel.

Heb. 12:5-7 - do not lose courage when you are punished, for the Lord disciplines whom He loves. The Lord loves each one of us more than we love ourselves, and will only permit suffering if it brings about our salvation.

Heb. 12:11 - this discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

James 4:8-10 - we must purify our hearts and grieve, mourn and wail, changing our laughter into morning and joy to gloom.


1 Peter 1:6 - Peter warns us that we may have to suffer various trials. Peter does not want us to be discouraged by this reality, but understand that such suffering purifies us and prepares us for union with God.

1 Peter 2:19-21 - Peter instructs that we have been called to endure pain while suffering for Christ, our example. God actually calls us to suffer as His Son did, and this is not to diminish us, but to glorify us, because it is by our suffering that we truly share in the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:1-2 - Peter says whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin to live not by the flesh but by the will of God. Our suffering furthers our growth in holiness which is the aim of Catholic life.

1 Peter 4:13 - Peter says to rejoice in Christ’s sufferings in order to rejoice and be glad when Christ’s glory is revealed. Those who suffer with faith in Christ will rejoice in His glory.

1 Peter 4:16 - if we suffer as Christians, we should not be ashamed but glorify God.

1 Peter 5:10 - after we have suffered, the God of all grace will restore, establish and strengthen us. God promises us that our suffering will ultimately be followed by glory.

Rev. 11:3 - Jesus gives power to His witnesses clothed in sackcloth. By virtue of our priesthood, we suffer to repair our relationship with God for sins that He has already forgiven us. As priests, we atone for the temporal punishments due to our sin.



That is the most amazing distortion of scripture I have ever seen.


In all fairness, Kaycee, I think HailMary is missing some context there.



Actually I think the OP’s approach is far more profound and interesting. People can and do go back and forth all day on James–I actually think there are fairly convincing Protestant explanations (for your information, most traditional Protestants would heartily agree that faith without works is dead–that part is not even controversial for the majority of Protestants). But the Colossians passage cuts at the heart of classical Protestant rhetoric about how none of our works (even those done in grace) are of any real value, certainly not in any way that could possibly add to Christ’s saving work. It was the key passage that convinced me that Catholicism was right on the general issue of how our good works and sufferings relate to Christ’s saving work (i.e., they are mystically united to it just as we are mystically made part of Christ’s Body).



Is there anything defined in Catholic dogma that says suffering is necessary for salvation? I don’t think there is. The Catholic Church teaches we are saved by grace alone, if I am not mistaken. It is by grace that we believe, have faith. I have a little penny catechism that asks, “What must I do to be saved”. It answers, “I must worship God in faith, hope and love”. Faith and love are different things. Faith may lead to love, but they are different. If Luther’s sola fide is correct, then it is possible to be saved without the love of God in the soul, without loving God. What is love? Scripture ties love to obedience. “If a man loves me he will keep my commands”. John’s letter clearly echoes this.
Obedience is not necessary if faith alone saves and Luther was explicit about this. He said we are beasts with saddles and bridles and go where the rider takes us. If the rider is Christ we will do good works and if the rider is the devil we will do evil, but it does not matter as long as we believe Christ died to save us. Here he denies free will. But sacrificial personal suffering is also tied to love. If you do not believe love is necessary to be saved (sola fide), then you will not believe sacrfice is necessary. Thery are tied.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit