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Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians from a Roman prison cell around 60-62 AD. This letter is probably being carried to by a man named Tychicus. See Chart Chronology of Paul
Colossae was located 120 miles east of Ephesus in the Lycus River Valley in what is now modern Turkey and was then part of the Roman territory of Asia Minor. Colossæ produced fine wool called “colossinus” which probably had a purple hue. The city perished by an earthquake a short time after the date of this epistle. (Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible)
Paul did not found the Colossian church; most likely Epaphras was their first evangelist
Epaphras is with Paul in Rome as Paul writes.
This letter is probably being carried to Colossus by Tychicus
The first two verses of Colossians follow the typical greeting for a NT letter: the author(s), the recipient(s), greetings. Paul identifies himself and what you should know and understand about him. Then he identifies his readers and explains who he considers them to be, particularly their status as the people of God.
Paraphrase: This letter is from Paul whom God himself appointed as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ the Messiah and Timothy is with me as well. I am writing to the believers who live in Colossae, those whom God has called out of this world to be forgiven, to belong to him and to mark as his own. Those who have shown that they belong among the brotherhood of believers by their faithful adherence to the gospel. My wish for you is that you would arrive at grace and blessing through the mercy of God.
1) Paul confronts them with the issue of his authority. He sets this tone of warning because the Colossians are on the verge of turning to a false gospel. We face the same problem today. Consider the movement today called “Emergent theology.”
Rob Bell, perhaps the most famous name associated with ET, gives some illustrative imagery. He thinks of biblical doctrines as springs on a trampoline as opposed to bricks in a wall. Springs are sturdy but flexible; they can be adjusted as necessary, allowing users to jump and to feel the joy of flight.
Bell sees such movement as analogous to a healthy relationship to God, a faith not grounded by the dead weight of inflexible, brick like doctrine. Practitioners of “brickianity”, however, are doomed to a frustrating faith, vulnerable to collapse. Their indubitable, inerrant doctrines are stacked upon one another such that if one brick falls, the whole fortress comes crashing down. – “An Unconditionally Conditional Faith” by Rutledge Etheridge
2) Paul divides people into two groups: those who belong to God and those who don’t. I could be in every category in this world that you don’t want to be in: poor, uneducated, wrong skin color, wrong gender, whatever — BUT if I’m in the category of saint, then I am blessed. I am a winner. That’s the important distinction. What Paul wants for the Colossians we ought to want for ourselves.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Next: 02 Colossians 1:3-12 Life Changing Hope
Series: Colossians: Getting the Gospel Right
Study: Colossians Resources
Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash