Who wrote it?
The apostle Paul was the primary writer of Colossians (Colossians 1:13). Timothy is also given some credit (Colossians 1:1).
When(ish) was it written?
Colossians was likely written between AD 58-62.
Why was it written?
The first half of Colossians is a theological treatise that includes one of the most profound presentations of Christology anywhere in the New Testament. The second half is a mini-ethics course, addressing every area of Christian life. Paul progresses from the individual life to the home and family, from work to the way we should treat others. The theme of this book is the Lordship of Jesus Christ and His sufficiency in meeting our needs in every area.
Some Key Verses
[quote] He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
– Colossians 1:15-16 [/quote]
[quote] See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
– Colossians 2:8 [/quote]
[quote] Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
– Colossians 3:12-13 [/quote]
[quote] Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
– Colossians 4:5-6 [/quote]
A Quick Summary
Colossians was written explicitly to defeat the heresy that had arisen in Colossae, which endangered the existence of the church. While we do not know what was told to Paul, this letter is his response.
We can surmise based on Paul’s response that the church was dealing with a defective view of Christ (denying His real and true humanity and not accepting His full deity). Paul appears also to dispute the “Jewish” emphasis on circumcision and traditions (Colossians 2:8-11; 3:11). The heresy addressed appears to be either a Jewish-Gnosticism or a mix between Jewish asceticism and Greek philosophy. He does a remarkable job in pointing us to the sufficiency of Christ.
The book of Colossians contains doctrinal instruction about the deity of Christ and false philosophies (Colossians 1:15-2:23), as well as practical exhortations regarding Christian conduct, including friends and speech (Colossians 3:1-4:18).
Old Testament Ties
As with all the early churches, the issue of Jewish legalism in Colossae was of great concern to Paul. So radical was the concept of salvation by grace apart from works that those steeped in Old Testament Law found it very difficult to grasp. Consequently, there was a continual movement among the legalists to add certain requirements from the Law to this new faith. Primary among them was the requirement of circumcision, which was still practiced among some of the Jewish converts. Paul countered this error in Colossians 2:11-15 in which he declares that circumcision of the flesh was no longer necessary because Christ had come. His was a circumcision of the heart, not the flesh, making the ceremonial rites of the Old Testament law no longer necessary (Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4, 9:26; Acts 7:51; Romans 2:29).
What does this mean?
Although Paul addresses many areas, the basic application for us today is the total and complete sufficiency of Christ in our lives, both for our salvation and our sanctification. We must know and understand the Gospel so as not to be led astray by subtle forms of legalism and heresy. We must be on guard for any deviation that would diminish the centrality of Christ as Lord and Savior. Any “religion” that tries to equate itself with the truth using books that claim the same authority as the Bible, or which combines human effort with divine accomplishment in salvation must be avoided. Other religions cannot be combined with or added to Christianity. Christ gives us absolute standards of moral conduct. Christianity is a family, a way of life, and a relationship—not a religion. His will is revealed in His word, His love letter to us; we must get to know it.
- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Colossians 4:2-6. What verses or ideas stand out to you from this passage? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
- Are you steadfast in prayer? How can you remind yourself to be more persistent and consistent in prayer?
- What are you thankful for? Do you pray with thanksgiving?
- Are you conscious of how you’re being perceived as a follower of Jesus? Give an example of how you’ve altered your behavior specifically because of how you might be viewed by someone who doesn’t yet follow Jesus.
- Take a few minutes to pray for an open door for the Gospel. Pray for the people you know who need to hear about Jesus, and pray also for the Riverview family to be able to impact the Lansing area with the Gospel.