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
Col 1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,
Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
Col 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf
Col 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face,
Epaphras is with Paul in Rome as Paul writes.
Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.
This letter is probably being carried to Colossus by Tychicus
Col 4:7 Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
Col 4:8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts,
Col 4:9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.
Col 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
Col 1:2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
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
Part of the series: Colossians: Getting the Gospel Right
Study Resources: Colossians Resources
Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.