Author and Audience: Colossians was written by Paul during his first Roman imprisonment and addressed “to the saints and faithful brethren … at Colosse” (Colossians 1:2; see Colossians 1:1; 4:3, 10, 18; see also Acts 28:16–31). It was also to be read to the Saints in Laodicea (see Colossians 4:16).
Historical Background: Colosse (along with the larger neighboring cities of Hierapolis and Laodicea) was a successful mercantile city in Asia Minor (see the map of the Mediterranean world in the appendix, p. 295). The record is silent as to how the gospel was introduced to the Colossians. Paul referred to a local member named Epaphras as “a faithful minister of Christ” (see Colossians 1:7–8). This man may have been converted by Paul in Ephesus during Paul’s third missionary journey (see Acts 19:10). It is believed that Epaphras took the gospel home to Colosse and it spread throughout the region. Just as the gospel flourished, however, so did an odd blend of Jewish religion and Greek philosophy. In time, this heresy made inroads into the congregations of the Saints. Epaphras, unable to deal with the growing acceptance of false religion, visited Paul in Rome for counsel on how to combat the threat. Paul wrote this letter sometime around A.D. 60–62 (see Bible Dictionary, (“Pauline Epistles,” p. 743).
Theme: The effect of the encroaching heresy was to diminish the preeminence of Jesus Christ. Paul corrected this false idea by teaching that Christ is the very image of God, that He is the Creator, the Head of the Church, the first to be resurrected, a member of the Godhead, the Redeemer, and the “hope of the gospel, which ye have heard” (see Colossians 1:15–23).
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