The letter from the Laodiceans (Colossians 4)

Bilderesultat for laodicean church

Illustration: The main street of Laodicea

In Colossians 4:16 Paul instructed the Colossians to read the “letter from Laodicea“. Most likely Paul was referring to a letter he had written to the believers in that city. Attempts to identify this letter have included suggestions that it was an Apocryphal Latin document, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians or a text that no longer exists.

  • The Latin phrase “Epistle to the Laodiceans” strings together many Pauline phrases found in Philippians and Galatians and then directs the readers to exchange letters with Colosse. It is doubtful that Paul wrote this document and likely that its true author forged the letter on the basis of Colossians 4:16.
  • Some scholars identify the book of Ephesians as the “letter from Laodicea” because Marcion, a second century heretic, referred to the book of Ephesians by this name. Additionally, some early manuscripts of Ephesians do not specify Ephesus as the destination of that letter at Ephesians 1:1. Paul may have intended to circulate Ephesians among several churches throughout the Lycus Valley, including Laodicea and Colosse. This does not require, however, that we regard Ephesians as the missing letter of Colossians 4:16.
  • Many of Paul’s letters have been lost to us. It is therefore quite possible that the letter referred to in Colossians 4:16 simply has not survived.

 

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