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by Rhoderick D. Ice
INTRODUCTION TO THE LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS
This letter, the letter to Philemon, and the letter to the Ephesians [which was also sent to Laodicea (Colossians 4:16)] were all written by Paul while in prison at Rome [Acts 28:16]. The three cities mentioned in this letter [Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis] were close to each other, all in the province of Asia [see map].
No one knows for sure that Paul planted the churches here, but Dr. James MacKnight believes the churches at Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis were planted by him, with the help of Timothy. Epaphras (Colossians 1:7) may have been one of the first converts, and may have also helped plant the church here.
In this area the hedonism of the Greeks met the mysticism of the East. Also, large colonies of Jews had been settled in this area [from Babylon] by one of the Macedonian kings of Syria. Their Judaism had been influenced by the religion of Zoroaster. There was danger that these things would modify Christianity and distort its truth. This was a serious matter (Galatians 1:8). Paul stresses the place of Jesus at the Father’s right side [the place of honor], also his role in Creation (Colossians 1:16-17). The false teachers evidently were saying that the [animal] sacrifices of the Law of Moses were needed, because Christianity had no sacrifices for sin. Paul shows that it is THE SACRIFICE of Jesus – once for all time – that sets us free from sin (Colossians 1:13-14). False teachers were saying that Jesus had not given all the truth, but angels would reveal it. Therefore Paul stresses that Jesus is the KEY (Colossians 2:3) to ALL God’s wisdom and knowledge.
The date of writing is probably 62 A.D.
the Week of Proper 13 / Ordinary 18