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Commentary On Paulís Letter To The Colossians

Introduction 

Next Section - Chapter 1:1:2

Introduction

The following commentary is based on the NIV translation of the Bible.  The section titles found in these pages are the same section titles that are found in the NIV Bible, 1995 edition, which should make it easier for study purposes. 

The city of Colossae (population of roughly 11,000 people when Paul wrote this lettr) was not as influential in Paulís day as some other cities like Ephesus.  The church at Colossae appeared to consist of mostly Gentile Christians, although there were some Jewish Christians within their community.   

It appears that at the time of Paulís writing this letter he had not yet been to Colossae.  His contact with this church had been through a man named Epaphras.  Some suggest that Epaphras was a convert from Ephesus.

Paul wrote and sent this letter to Colossae when he returned Onesimus, a Christian slave, back to Philemon, Onesimusís original owner.  Apparently Onesimus escaped to find his freedom, then became a Christian and discovered that his owner was a Christian as well.  You can read the story in Paulís letter to Philemon.  

This letter was most likely written around 61 or 62 AD from Rome where Paul was a prisoner.  He wrote his letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, and to Philemon at or around the same time.    

This particular letter is somewhat more philosophical in nature than most of his other letters and for that and other reasons liberal theologians believe that Paul did not write this letter.  I believe he in fact did write this letter.  

As in most of Paulís writings, he is writing to correct a wrong way of thinking, a heresy.  The heresy here is called "Gnosticism".  The basic thinking in this teaching is that God cannot come in contact with natural matter because it is very evil.  As a result He needs to be buffeted from, or kept back from evil matter.  He thus created a world of deityís, angels, or spiritual beings, in which they can do His work on His behalf.  They act as intermediates on between Him and mankind.  Christ Jesus is the primary super being, or angel, in this angelic host.  This means that Jesus is only one of a myriad of these special beings.  Therefore, Gnostics believed that there is a whole spiritual world around us that are full of beings just like Jesus.  Yes, Jesus is special in the sense He is the most important of these deity beings, but He is not the only deity.  He is created.  This idea led to a very spiritual way of thinking and worshiping.  It led to angel worship.  It led to exclusivism for those who believed such things.  They believed that they had special spiritual insight, far beyond the normal Christian because they were in touch with the vast spiritual world around them.  This put Jesus on a much lower level of existence than He really is.  This made Jesus an angel, not divine.  Jesus is one of a kind.  There is no one like Jesus.  He is in fact God, and while on earth God in human flesh.  Paul will point this out very clearly. The Gnostic way of thinking is far from Scriptural.   

Elements of Gnosticism appear in almost every generation of Christians.  These so-called super spiritual Christians, who always major on dreams, visions, appearances of angels, and the subjective, are still with us today.  These people appear to be really spiritual, yet most of the time they lack a good understanding of Godís objective truth as found in Scripture.  They prefer the inner workings of the spiritual world over the objective truth of Scripture.  They often get led astray because all that they claim to be from God is from their own over active imagination.

There was nothing really special about the city of Colossae as I've pointed out.  It was more of an agricultural town.  It was not like Rome, Athens, or Alexandria, which were cities of education, affluence, and commerce.  It was located in present day Turkey, or, the Roman province of Asia in Paul's day.  

 

Next Section - Chapter 1:1:2

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