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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

Colossians

- Colossians

by Gary Hampton

The Sufficiency of Christ

A Study of Colossians

by

Gary C. Hampton

Greetings

The City of Colossae

About one hundred miles east of Ephesus were three closely grouped cities, Colossae, Laodicea and Hieropolis. All three are mentioned by name in this book and at least two of the churches were to read this letter ( Col_1:2 ; Col_4:13 ; Col_4:16 ). Colossae was located in a narrow gorge, which was two miles long and ten miles wide, in the Lycus valley. It was on an important road from Ephesus to the East. Laodicea was the chief city of the district in Paul's day. Pfeiffer says, "The great road from the coast to the interior of Asia Minor passed right through the middle of the city, making it an important center of trade and communication." It was about twelve miles from Colossae. Six miles from the north gate of Laodicea was the city of Hieropolis. It was famous for its mineral springs, which made it a thronging health resort.

Paul’s Purpose in Writing

One of Paul's purposes of writing was to warn the Colossians about the false teachers and the dangers they presented. The false doctrine appears to have been a combination of Jewish, Christian and native beliefs. Paul's answer to the Jewish portions of it can be seen in his thoughts on circumcision, the law and observance of holy days ( Col_2:11 ; Col_2:14-17 ). Angel worship may have been a mixing of the native worship of river spirits with true teachings on angels ( Col_2:18 ).

Another purpose in Paul's mind was clearly "to strengthen and to confirm the Colossian Christians in their adherence to the Gospel which they had received" (Hiebert). He thanks God for their love of, and growth in, the truth ( Col_1:3-8 ). He rejoiced over their steadfast faith and encouraged them to become fully rooted in Christ's teachings ( Col_2:5-7 ). Paul also showed them Christianity should bring an end to sinful practices. He directed them to live in a manner becoming one who is specially chosen of God ( Col_3:5-13 ). Specific application to Christian living are found in the remainder of chapters three and four.

The Place and Occasion of Writing

Paul wrote the book from prison, or at least when he was in bonds ( Col_4:2-4 ). Onesimus might well have fled to such a large city far away from his master's home to avoid discovery. If it was written from Rome, the date of writing would probably be AD 61-63, as Hendriksen suggests. The occasion for writing may well have been the visit of Epaphras to the apostle Paul ( Col_4:12 ). In fact, the great love Epaphras displayed for the church, as well as those in Laodicea and Hieropolis, may indicate he established the works in the three cities or at least that he worked closely with them ( Col_4:12-13 ). Tychicus was evidently the man who delivered the letter ( Col_4:7-8 ).

Bibliography

Coffman, James Burton. Commentary on Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians.

Austin: Firm Foundation Publishing House, 1977.

Hendriksen, William. New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker House, 1964.

Hiebert, D. Edmond. An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles. Chicago: Moody Press, 1954.

Lipscomb, David. A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles. Vol. IV.

Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1939.

Pfeiffer, Charles F., and Voss, Howard F. The Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible Lands.

Chicago: Moody Press, 1967.

Thomas, Leslie G. Teacher's Annual Lesson Commentary on Uniform Bible Lessons for the

Churches of Christ 1976-77. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1970.

Turner, Rex A., Sr. Teacher's Annual Lesson Commentary on Uniform Bible Lessons for the

Churches of Christ 1976-77. Nashville: Gospel Advocate Company, 1977.

Weed, Michael R. The Letters of Paul to the Ephesians, the Colossians, and Philemon.

Austin: A. B. Sweet Co., Inc., 1971.