The book of Colossians

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This letter presents itself as being from Paul. Today, however, a number of scholars consider it to be a pseudonymos (a forgery attributed to Paul). Some have argued that the letter’s style is unlike Paul’s – an argument that is difficult to demonstrate in so short an epistle. Some point out that the exalted and cosmic language used of Christ in Colossians 1:15-20 goes beyond what we see in Paul’s other letters, but in reality such ideas appear in passages such as 1 Corinthians 8:6. Other objections to Pauline authorship of Colossians (e.g. that it lacks Paul’s emphasis on faith versus works) are weak.

Similarities to Ephesians suggest that Paul wrote the two letters at nearly the same time. Colosse was in the Lycus valley, inland from Ephesus and not far from Laodicea, and Paul evidently sent out the letters to a number of churches in the area, with Ephesians perhaps being being a circular letter (see The letter from the Laodiceans under Colossians 4 and The authorship of Ephesians under Ephesians 4). Paul was in prison at the time Colossians was written (Colossians 4:3) – most likely in Rome by possibly in Caesarea. A date of writing of about A.D. 60 seems probable.

The letter was written to the believers in Colosse. The church there had been planted by Paul’s co-worker Epaphras (1:7, 4:12), who joined Paul while he was under house arrest in Rome (4:12, Philemon 23, see Acts 28:16-31), during which time the apostle likely wrote this letter.

As you read, look for an eloquent passage on the supremacy of Christ, note the basic standards for Christian living and family interactions and take to heart Paul’s warning against mixing elements from various religions.

Did you know that “written code” was a business term, referring to a certificate of indebtedness in the debtor’s own handwriting (2:14)? Did you know that disarming the enemy is a picture of conquered soldiers stripped of their clothing and weapons to symbolize their total defeat (2:15)? Did you know that the central error of the Colossian heresy was a defective view of Christ, in that He was believed to be less than deity (2:19)? Did you know that a “barbarian” referred to someone who did not speak Greek and was on the basis thought to be uncivilized (3:11)?


 

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