Colossians is one of Paul’s prison epistles (Colossians 1:7-8; 4:3, 7-14), written while Paul was under house arrest in the city of Rome. The content of this book is very similar to that which is written in the book of Ephesians.
Paul’s relationship to the church at Colossae differs from that of the other churches he wrote to. The apostle Paul was instrumental in the establishment of the churches at Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica, and in various cities in the region of Galatia. He had worked with and visited with all of these, and though he was not involved in the establishment of the church at Rome and at the time he wrote his epistle to them he’d not yet been to Rome, Paul would eventually make it to Rome. However, there is no indicate Paul had ever been in the city of Colossae. Paul indicated he and his companions had heard of their faith (Colossians 1:5, 9), and outright said in Colossians 2:1, “…I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many has have not seen my face in the flesh…”
The fact that he hadn’t met them did not diminish his desire to build them up in the faith. He wrote, “…though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit…” (Colossians 2:5). At the close of the book, Paul mentions by name those whom he sent to Colossae, Tychicus who would bring news to them concerning Paul (perhaps about his work while in custody and his impending release); and Onesimus, a runaway slave of Philemon, whom Paul identifies as “one of you” (Colossians 4:7-9).
The book of Colossians focuses on the pre-eminence of Christ. In doing so, Paul identifies Jesus as the:
- Image of God and the Creator of all things (1:15-17)
- Head of the church (1:18; 2:19)
- Fullness of the Godhead (1:19; 2:9; 3:11)
- Source of our hope in glory (1:27; 3:4)
- Over all power and principalities (2:10, 15)
- beginning of creation (1:15)
Here is a summary of the book of Colossians:
- The faith of the Colossians (1:1-14)
- The preeminent Christ (1:15-23)
- Paul’s suffering and service (1:24-2:5)
- Receive Christ, no substitutes (2:6-23)
- Put off the old man (3:1-17)
- Living a life of character (3:18-4:6)
- Closing remarks (4:7-18)
Next time, we’ll look at 1 & 2 Thessalonians.