Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians

During Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus, Epaphras had been converted and took the gospel to Colosse. However, this new church came under attack from heretical teaching, which seemed to emanate mainly from Judaism and gnosticism. Paul’s purpose of writing this letter was to refute these heresies by emphasising the complete adequacy of Christ in contrast to the inadequacy of human philosophy. It was written while under house arrest in Rome in A.D. 60, perhaps a little after his letter to the Ephesians.

Greetings, thanksgiving and prayer; The supremacy of Christ

[Col 1] Paul greets the church and gives thanks to God for their faith, love and hope that are the result of Epaphras having taken the gospel to them. He prays constantly that they might continue to grow in their faith, bearing fruit and increasing in knowledge, exhorting them to give thanks to the Father for His redemptive work in them through the blood of Christ. Paul expresses the supremacy of Christ as the firstborn before all creation, the head of the body, the church, through whom all things are reconciled to the Father, now including the saints at Colosse. Having been reconciled, they need to continue in the faith, grounded and settled, not moving away from the hope of the gospel of which Paul became a minister, empowered to reveal the ‘mystery’ hidden until the present times, that all nations can share in the riches and glory of redemption through Christ Jesus .

Warnings against heresies

[Col 2] Knowing the adverse influences around them, Paul expresses his concern for their spiritual welfare, telling them he is with them in spirit and urging them to be steadfast in their faith. They are told to beware of the philosophies and deceit that are of this world and not of Christ, in whom is the fullness of God. Paul reminds them that their old selves have been buried with Christ through baptism and raised again, all their sins having been forgiven, to be as one with Christ whose death and resurrection defeated the hold of sin over them. Paul now warns them against some specific heresies to which they are exposed that relate to Judaism and gnosticism, questioning how, if they have become as one with Christ, they could now be subject to the doctrines of men.

The way of life in Christ

[Col 3-4:1] Paul teaches them the way they ought to live, setting their minds on things above and not on things of this world. They must no longer have anything to do with corrupt passions, covetousness, anger, shameful speech and dishonesty. Rather, they are to have hearts of compassion, kindness, humility and, above all, love. All that they do should be done in peace, being steeped in God’s word and always giving thanks and praise to Him. Paul specifically mentions here the relationships between husbands and wives, children and parents, and servants and masters.

Encouragement and final greetings

[Col 4:2-18] In these closing words, Paul encourages them to continue in prayer and witnessing, and sends greetings from numerous brothers, including Onesimus, who is the subject of his letter to Philemon, and Luke. He also requests this letter be exchanged with one sent to Laodicea, then ends with a personal greeting.
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