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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Colossians

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4

Book Overview - Colossians

by Gary H. Everett

STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Using a Theme-based Approach

to Identify Literary Structures

By Gary H. Everett

THE EPISTLE OF COLOSSIANS

January 2013Edition

All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.

All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed, Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c 1925, morphology c 1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c 1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong"s Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c 1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author's daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.

Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.

Foundational Theme - The Doctrines of the New Testament Church

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given,

that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Ephesians 3:8

Structural Theme - The Office of Jesus Christ as Head over the Church

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning,

the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Colossians 1:18

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations,

but now is made manifest to his saints:

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles;

which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Colossians 1:26-27

Imperative Theme - Allowing Christ to Have Preeminence in our Daily Lifestyle

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Colossians 2:10

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above,

where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:1-3

INTRODUCTION TO THE EPISTLE OF COLOSSIANS

Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.

The Message of the Epistle of Colossians - William MacDonald points out that although Paul generally wrote epistles to churches located in strategic cities of the Roman Empire, such as Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, and Philippi, the city of Colossians stood as one of the least important cities within these Roman provinces; 1] yet, the epistle to the Colossians stands as a great monument in establishing the doctrines of the New Testament Church. By the time Paul evangelized the Roman province of Asia, this city had greatly declined in its political and economic importance. The church of Colossi played a very little role, if any, over the next few centuries following Paul's death, as the early Church grew and structured itself within the Roman world. Had it not been for Paul's letter to the believers at Colossi, little would be known about this city. However, because of this one epistle, we are given a great wealth of knowledge that we otherwise would never have understood about the office and ministry and divine nature of our precious Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as head of the Church.

1] William MacDonald, The Epistle to the Colossians , in Believer's Bible Commentary, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Introduction."

The Lord gave me a spiritual dream in the late 1980"s, which can be used to illustrate the theme of the epistle to the Colossians , which is the Lordship of Jesus Christ. In my dream Al and Merle Schukoske, my former employers, came to my home and knocked on my door. When I met them at the door of my home a loneliness swept over me as I saw their faces which their compassion for me as a single man who had never married. Then I looked up towards heaven and I saw the glory of God as it shown down upon me and flooded my soul. It gave me such a complete happy feeling inside that the desire for marriage, for other relationships, or for everything temporal and earthly, faded away and I felt complete in God's presence. For that moment the Lord allowed me to feel what we will feel in Heaven for eternity, which is completeness and full contentment. It helped me tremendously to understand that when we get to heaven we will be totally complete. We will be in need of nothing and there will be no loneliness. The idea of being lonely, even as a single person, will not exist, just as hunger and pain will not exist there. Even on this earth, this completeness is available to us now to give us strength day by day. I can say this because in Colossians 2:10 it tells us that we are complete in Him, "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:" But we cannot walk in this completeness and contentment as long as our hearts on in the world and Jesus Christ is not Lord over every area of our lives. This is the message that Paul reveals to the church at Colossi.

Introductory Material- The introduction to the epistle of Colossians will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework. 2] These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God's message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.

2] Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel's well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalm: (1) "a common setting in life," (2) "thoughts and mood," (3) "literary forms." In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses "Form/Structure/Setting" preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).

HISTORICAL SETTING

Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the epistle of Colossians will provide a discussion on its historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the early Church tradition that the Paul the apostle wrote his epistle to the Colossians along with his other Prison Epistles during his first imprisonment in Rome that took place between A.D 60 to 62.

I. Historical Background

A. Location of Colossi- The ancient city of Colossi was situated within the ethnic region of southern Phrygia. But during Roman times it politically it lay within the boundaries of the province of proconsular Asia. The origin of its name is suggested to come from the word "colossus" which was used to describe the grand limestone formations that characterize this area. The city was situated in the Lycus River valley region near to where this river flows into the Meander River, and it was situated at the mouth of a narrow 12-mile wide pass in the Cadmian mountain range. The major highway that ran from Ephesus (about one hundred miles east of Colossi) through this mountain pass and on to the Euphrates Valley passed through the city of Colossi and served as a military route during Roman times. It could have been called the gateway to the East from a geographical standpoint because this is where the West met the East. Its closest neighbours were Laodicea (ten miles away), the capital of this district, and Hierapolis (thirteen miles away). These three cities formed a triangle within the Lycus valley with Laodicea being the most important of the three.

B. History of Colossi- Ancient History - During the periods of the Persian and Greek empires the city of Colossi flourished as a wealthy and populated city. Herodotus (484-425 B.C.) called it "a great city of Phrygia" (730) when describing Xerxes journey through Phyrgia. 3] Xenophon (430-354 B.C.) said that it was "a large city, rich and well inhabited," when writing about how Cyrus the Younger marched through this area (Anabasis 126). 4] Thus, in ancient times Colossi served as one of the great fortress cities of these ancient empires.

3] Herodotus, vol. III, trans. A. D. Godley, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1938), 345.

4] Xenophon, The Whole Works of Xenophon, trans. Ashley Cooper, et al. (Philadelphia, PA: Thomas Wardle, 1845), 171.

Roman History- During Romans times, the city found itself declining in population and importance. New trade routes had taken its toll on the economy of Colossi and it is now described by Strabo (63 B.C.-A.D 24) as being among the "smaller towns" or " πολίσματα" (Geography 12813). 5] Pliny mentions Colossi in his second listing of "more celebrated cities" (oppida celeberrima) in Phrygia (Nat. Hist. 541). 6] Thus, by the time of Paul's missionary journeys into Asia, the city had become of little importance except as a merchant town along the East-West trade route between Rome to the East. Its chief article of commerce at one time was a peculiar, red or dark colored wool called "collossinus," which was valued in the ancient world (Strabo, Geography 12816; 7] and Pliny, Nat. Hist. 2127; 8] 2567 9]). The city of Laodicea, which was named in commemoration of a Greco-Syrian dynasty that ruled this area in times past, was the chief city of this region in the Lycus river valley under the Roman system of dividing the Empire into smaller administrative regions. Hierapolis, on the other hand, was known as a sort of "health resort" because of the many medicinal qualities of its warm waters and was "full of natural baths" (Strabo, Geography 13414). 10] Philip Schaff says, "Herapolis was a famous watering place and surrounded by beautiful scenery." 11]

5] The Geography of Strabo, vol 5, trans. Horace L. Jones, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1961), 505.

6] Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny, vol 1, trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1855), 472-496.

7] Strabo writes, "The country round Laodiceia produces sheep that are excellent, not only for the softness of their wool, in which they surpass even the Milesian wool, but also for its raven-black colour, so that the Laodiceians derive splendid revenue from it, as do also the neighbouring Colosseni from the colour which bears the same name." See The Geography of Strabo, vol 5, trans. Horace Leonard Jones, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1961), 511.

8] Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny, vol 4, trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1856), 329.

9] Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny, vol 5, trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1856), 125.

10] Strabo writes, "And the supply of water is so abundant that the city is full of natural baths." See The Geography of Strabo, vol 6, trans. Horace Leonard Jones, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1928), 189.

11] Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol 1: Apostolic Christianity A.D 1-100 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955), 770.

C. Colossi During the Time of Paul- Its Cultural Setting (The Colossian Heresy) - Asia Minor served as a great cultural center of Roman and Greek mythology, heathenism, paganism, asceticism, the Jewish religion as well as an assortment of mystical religions. The pressure of this mixture of cultures and influences upon the Christian community in that city may account for the reason why heresy became the greatest concern for Paul in regards to the well-being of this church.

Worship of Angels: One form of heresy that is brought out in Colossians is the worship of angels and perhaps other spirits. Although there is no reference made to the city of Colossi in the book of Acts , Theodoret (A.D 393-466), bishop of Cyrrhus, tells us that during Paul's day it was a city with a lax religion that included the worship of angels, with the archangel Michael becoming the patron and protector of the city (Commentary on Colossians 2:18). 12] This belief probably originated from the worship of river spirits. In the fourth century at the council of Laodicea, a city located nearby, we read in the 35th canon that prayers to angels were prohibited.

12] See PG 82col 614B.

Worship of Greek gods: In addition to angel worship, the Phrygian people were dedicated worshipers of the Greek gods Dionysus and Cybele and these beliefs probably played an additional role in the Colossian heresy that Paul had to deal with in his epistle to this church.

Greek Philosophy: Another form of heresy that Paul seems to deal with is Greek philosophy, of which Paul was well acquainted with and even quoted one of their prophets in Acts 17 when speaking at Athens. In the Lycus valley region, we know from history that there were Greeks inhabiting this region whose language and manners prevailed over this society. They apparently brought their philosophical ideals into the churches.

Jewish Inhabitants: Along with the philosophical Greek minds, there was an abundance of Jews who were deported here during the rule of Antiochus the Great (223-187 B.C.). From the writings of Josephus, we know that there was a large population of Jews in the area; for he tells us that Jews had been living in the region of Phrygia two centuries before Christ as a result of Antiochus the Great having garrisoned the regions of Lydia and Phrygia with two thousand Mesopotamian and Babylonian Jews during the time of a threatened revolt (Antiquities 1234). We find additional evidence of this from Josephus, who cites Strabo (Antiquities 1472). 13] We are told that in 62 B.C. Flaccus, the Roman proprietor of Asia at the time, forcefully took twenty (Roman) pounds of gold from the Jews at the city of Laodicea, which had been collected to be exported to Jerusalem to pay the annual, half-sheckel Temple tax (Cicero, Pro Flacco 28; 14] and Josephus, Antiquities 1472.) This large sum of money suggests a large population of Jews in the Lycus River valley. Paul came against these Jewish sects who preached that Christians had to embrace certain Old Testament rituals out of the Mosaic Law in order to continue in right standing with God.

13] Josephus writes, "And Strabo himself bears witness to the same thing in another place; that at the same time that Sylla passed over into Greece, in order to fight against Mithridates, he sent Lucullus to put an end to a sedition that our nation, of whom the habitable earth is full, had raised in Cyrene; where he speaks thus: "There were four classes of men among those of Cyrene; that of citizens, that of husbandmen, the third of strangers, and the fourth of Jews. Now these Jews are already gotten into all cities; and it is hard to find a place in the habitable earth that hath not admitted this tribe of men, and is not possessed by them…" (Antiquities 1472)

14] Cicero, The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, vol 2, trans. C. D. Yonge (London: G. Bell and Sons, 1917), 455.

Gnostocism: The epistle of Colossians not only comes against Judaism, but it also deals with an early form of Gnosticism. This Oriental mysticism, whether Indian, Persian or Egyptian, was introducing a new, but growing, heresy that Jesus Christ was neither fully God nor fully man. It taught that the man Jesus received His divine nature at His water baptism and that the Christ Revelation -ascended to Heaven just before His death on the Cross. This group introduced a lifestyle of both extreme asceticism and fleshly indulgences due to their belief that the human body was inherently evil.

Finally, we believe that Paul places a tremendous amount of emphasis upon the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ in his epistle to the Colossians , because these heresies were by their very nature attempts to dethrone the Lord and Creator of the universe from His rightful position.

Mysticism: Therefore, we find that the population of Colossi during Paul's time was a mixture of Phrygians, Greeks, Jews, and Eastern mysticism. With the Phrygian mythology, the Greek philosophy, the Jewish rituals, and Gnosticism, the young converts at Colossi were faced with a tremendous amount of doctrinal confusion in their attempts to come out of these mindsets. Thus, we have the setting for which Paul writes to the Colossians as he gives to us the revelation of Christ Jesus as fully God and fully man for which cause we are to serve Him as our Saviour and Lord. Paul deals with all of these ways of thinking in his epistle by lifting up Christ Jesus as the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form ( Colossians 2:9-10).

Colossians 2:9-10, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:"

Finally, Guthrie suggests that some of the terms that Paul uses in his epistle, such as "fullness," "knowledge," and "neglect of the body," may have been terms used by these philosopher, especially since we have evidence that they were frequently used by the Gnostics of the second century in order to explain their beliefs. 15]

15] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 566-567.

The Founding of the Church at Colossi - Most likely, these churches in the Lycus River valley region were founded during the three-year period that we read about in Acts 19 when Paul abode in the city of Ephesus while evangelizing the region round about. It is not clearly known who initially planted the church of Colossi. There are several passages of Scripture that scholars use to suggest that Paul was the original founder because of the record we have of him visiting this region.

We know that Paul traveled through Phrygia at least two times ( Acts 16:6; Acts 18:23). He passed through this area at the beginning of his second missionary journey ( Acts 16:6) and at the beginning of his third journey ( Acts 18:23).

Acts 16:6, "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia,"

Acts 18:23, "And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples."

He could have possibly founded the church in Colossi on his second or third missionary journey, especially during his three years in Ephesus when he preached "throughout all Asia" ( Acts 19:26). It is very likely that he at least paid a brief visit to this city.

Acts 19:26, "Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands:"

2. We see in Colossians 1:24 where Paul indicates that he was "suffering for them". Some scholars suggest this verse indicates that he "laboured" for the saints in Colossi.

Colossians 1:24, "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body"s sake, which is the church:"

3. Finally, the general tone of Colossians is personal enough to suggest that Paul knew them personally.

However, most scholars believe that there is stronger evidence in Scripture to suggest that Paul had never visited this city ( Colossians 1:3-4; Colossians 2:1).

Colossians 1:3-4, "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,"

Colossians 2:1, "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;"

These scholars believe that there is no place in Scripture that indicates Paul's personal acquaintance with them. They say that Paul's second missionary journey through Galatia to Troas and his third journey from Galatia to Ephesus would have taken him through northern Phrygia and not through Colossi. Therefore, many scholars believe that one of Paul's converts, such as Epaphras, Timothy or even Archippus, were used by God to plant this church. It would be very probable that Epaphras was converted in Ephesus during Paul's lengthy stay there and that he returned to his home in the city of Colossi where he founded the church. The verse that comes closest to indicating that Epaphras as the founder of this church is found in Colossians 1:6-7 when Paul is declaring their faith in the Gospel that has gone out into all the world. In this passage he states that they learned it from Epaphras.

Colossians 1:6-7, "Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;"

In addition, the fact that Paul mentions Epaphras as a man of fervent prayer, who prayed for them to stand perfect and complete in all of the will of God, is descriptive of the burden of a pastor over his flock ( Colossians 4:12-13).

Colossians 4:12-13, "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis."

Thus, scholars are divided between these two views of who planted the church in Colossi. I tend to believe that it was probably Epaphras who founded the churches in Colossians as well as in Laodicea and Hierapolis ( Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12-13). In addition, we know that the city of Colossi was most likely the home of Philemon and Epaphras, Aphia and Archippus. We can surmise from the epistle of Philemon that the church in Colossi met in the home of Philemon , noting that he was rather wealthy, being a slave owner ( Philemon 1:2). I believe that Paul later visited this church, or else, how could the slave Onesimus have known Paul personally enough to want to flee to him in Rome, and how could Paul have been so close to Philemon had he not visited them.

D. The Church of Colossi After the Time of Paul- According to Tacitus and Eusebius, the cities in the Lycus valley suffered a devastating earthquake during the reign of Nero (between A.D 61,66), shortly after receiving their letters from Paul the apostle. Tacitus (A.D 56-117) says it took place in the seventh year of Nero, and writes, "In the same year, Laodicea, one of the famous Asiatic cities, was laid in ruins by an earthquake, but recovered by its own resources, without assistance from ourselves." (Annals 1427). 16] Eusebius (A.D 260-340) says it took place during the tenth year of Nero, and writes, "In Asia an earthquake destroyed three cities, Laodicia, Hierapolis, and Colossae." (Chronicle: Olympiads 210.g) 17] Paulius Orosius (A.D 375-418), the Christian historian, follows Eusebius' words by saying, "In Asia an earthquake destroyed three cities, Laodicia, Hierapolis, and Colossae." (A History Against the Pagans 77) 18] The Sibylline Oracles mention an earthquake in Laodicea, "Miserable Laodicea, thee too an earthquake shall one day raze." (4107) 19] Pliny the elder (A.D 23-79) called it one of the major towns in Phyrgia (Natural History 541), so it may have recovered from the earthquake by the time he wrote his history. 20] Later writers tell us that the city of Colossi took the name Chonae. Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (A.D 905-959) writes, "Colossae, which is now called Chonae." (De Thematibus 13) 21] Oecumenius (10th c.), bishop of Tricca, says, "to the Colossians , a city of Phrygia, which is now called Chona." (Commentary on Colossians 1:2) 22] Theophylact (11th c.) says the city was prosperous during his time, and writes, "The city of Colossi of Phrygia, which is now called Chonae, and it is clear from one, the Laodicean, to be rich." (Commentary on Colossians 1:2). 23] Albert Barnes says in the seventh and eighth centuries the city was overrun by the Saracens and destroyed by the Turks in the twelfth century. Archeologists have found the ruins to Colossi near the present day city of Chonus. 24] A number of ancient ruins of Colossi can be seen today, including a church, the stone foundation of a large theater and a necropolis with unusually shaped stones, but this area has not been fully excavated.

16] Tacitus, vol 4, trans. John Jackson, in The Loeb Classical Library, eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse (London: William Heinemann, 1952), 151.

17] Eusebius writes, "In Asia tres urbes terra motu conciderunt Laodicea Hierapolis Colossae." (See PG 19 Colossians 543A and PL 27 Colossians 453A). Cited also by J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon (London: Macmillan and Co, 1879), 39.

18] Paulus Orosius, A History Against the Pagans [on-line]; accessed 20 March 2010; available from http://sites.google.com/site/demontortoise 2000/orosius_book 7; Internet. See the Greek text in PL 31col 1078B.

19] The Sibylline Oracles, trans. H. C. O. Lanchester, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2, ed. R. H. Charles, 1-82 (electronic edition), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004).

20] Pliny the Elder, The Natural History of Pliny, vol 1, trans. John Bostock and H. T. Riley, in Bohn's Classical Library (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1855), 491.

21] Translated by the author from PG 113col 81B

22] Translated by the author from PG 124col 13A.

23] Translated by the author from PG 124col 1208B.

24] Heinrich A. W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Epistles to the Philippians and Colossians , and to Philemon , trans. John C. Moore and William P. Dickson, in Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the New Testament, ed. Heinrich A. W. Meyer (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1885), 193-194.

From the Scriptures, we find that there was not only a church in Colossi, but we read within the epistle of Colossians ( Colossians 2:1, Colossians 4:13) that there were churches in the two neighbouring cities of Laodicea and Herapolis.

Colossians 2:1, "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;"

Colossians 4:13, "For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis."

The church established in Laodicea is addressed in John's Apocalypse and is described as rich, proud and lukewarm, which reflects the wealth of this city. We know that this church continued for centuries because it hosted a major church council in A.D 344. The church of Hierapolis is mentioned by Eusebius as the bishopric of Papias (A.D 60-130) 25] (a friend of Polycarp) and Apollinaris (2nd c.). 26]

25] Eusebius writes, "And at the same time Papias, bishop of the parish of Hierapolis, became well known." (Ecclesiastical History 3362)

26] Eusebius writes, "I have sent you writings of the most blessed Claudius Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis in Asia." (Ecclesiastical History 5192)

II. Authorship and Canonicity

In establishing the authorship of the New Testament writings, one must also deal with the issue of canonicity, since apostolic authority was the primary condition for a book to be accepted into the biblical canon of the early Church. This section will evaluate three phases in the development of the canonicity of the epistle of Colossians: apostolic authority, church orthodoxy, and catholicity. The first phase of canonization is called apostolic authority and is characterized by the use of the writings of the apostles by the earliest Church father in the defense of the Christian faith (1st and 2nd centuries). The second phase of canonization is called church orthodoxy and is characterized by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). The third phase of canonization is characterized by the general acceptance and use of the books of the New Testament by the catholic church, seen most distinctly in the early Church councils (4th century).

A. Apostolic Authority- Scholars generally agree that the New Testament canon went through several phrases of development in Church history prior to its solidification in the fourth century. F. B. Westcott says the earliest phase is considered the apostolic age in which "the writings of the Apostles were regarded from the first as invested with singular authority, as the true expression, if not the original source, of Christian doctrine and Christian practice." He says the "elements of the Catholic faith" were established during this period in Church history. 27] At this time, the early Christian Greek apologists defended the catholic faith during the rise of the heresies of the second century using the writings that carried the weight of apostolic authority. The Church clung to the books that were either written by the apostles themselves, such as Matthew ,, John , Peter, and Paul, or directly sanctioned by them, such as Mark and Luke , the assistances of Peter and Paul respectively, and the epistles of James and Jude , the brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, scholars believe apostolic authority was the primary element in selecting the canonical books. This phase is best represented by evaluating the internal evidence of the authorship of these New Testament books and by the external witnesses of the early Church fathers who declare the book's apostolic authorship and doctrinal authority over the Church.

27] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 21. The Muratorian Canon (c. A.D 200) alludes to the criteria of apostolic authority for the New Testament writings, saying, "The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time." (Fragments of Caius 33) (ANF 5); Corey Keating says, "In the first two centuries, ‘apostolic authority' was the important factor in deciding to keep or reject a particular writing." See Corey Keating, The Criteria Used for Developing the New Testament Canon in the First Four Centuries of the Christian Church (2000); accessed 15 April 2012; available from http://www.ntgreek.org/SeminaryPapers/ChurchHistory/Criteria%20for%20Development%20of%20the%20NT%20Canon%20in%20First%20Four%20Centuries.pdf; Internet.

The fact that Paul declares himself the author of the epistle of Colossians , along with its internal characteristics that are distinctly Pauline, with its historical illusions that coincide with the book of Acts and other Pauline epistles, and with the fact that all of the church fathers universally accepted this epistle as genuine together make a case for Pauline authorship that no one has been able to tear down in the last two thousand years. Thus, internal and external evidence gives strong support to Pauline authorship for Colossians.

1. Internal Evidence- Internal evidence overwhelmingly supports Pauline authorship of the epistle. There are three traditional arguments for its authenticity: its declaration, its style, and its theology.

a) The Author Reveals His Identity - The authorship of Colossians is clearly stated both directly and indirectly within this epistle.

i) His Name is Paul- The opening salutation and two verses within the body of the epistle declares Pauline authorship.

Colossians 1:1, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,"

Colossians 1:23, "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;"

Colossians 4:18, "The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen."

This is typical of Paul who introduces his name in every one of his New Testament epistles and ascribes his apostolic authority to God's will in a number of them ( Ephesians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Colossians 1:1). The fact that he refers to his apostolic office in this opening verse further confirms the letter as Pauline.

ii) His Indirect Identity - The epistle to Colossians is full of first person statements that indirectly identify the author. He claims apostolic authority, of which few people in the New Testament could claim ( Colossians 1:1). He has personally heard of their faith and love for the brethren ( Colossians 1:4). He was a man that prayed for the saints ( Colossians 1:9-11), which is stated in practically every Pauline epistle. All of these indirect references fit the profile of Paul's life and ministry as we know of it from the book of Acts and the other Pauline epistles. There is nothing in Colossians that contradicts what we know about the life of Paul.

b) Its Style and Structure is Pauline- Its style of Colossians appeals to Pauline authorship.

i) The salutation, thanksgiving, doctrinal exposition, application of that doctrine, closing remarks and benediction are all typical of the other Pauline epistles. The author opens his epistle exactly like he did the epistles of 2Corinthians and Ephesians.

ii) As mentioned above, he often uses the first person singular throughout his letters with many personal references to events that he shares in common with the recipients of his epistles.

iii) The structure of this epistle is typical of all Pauline Epistles; with the first part emphasizing doctrine while the second part emphasizes practical application.

iv) The Pauline epistles have the characteristic parenthetical digressions. This is where Paul is discussing a thought and elaborates on a particular word or idea before returning back to the main thought.

v) The fact that the epistles of Ephesians and Colossians are so similar in content testifies that they bear the same author.

vi) The relationship between Colossians and Philemon suggests that these two epistles were written at the same time and sent by the same hands to the same place.

(1) Both epistles contain the names of Paul, Timothy, Onesimus, Archippus, Epaphras, Mark , Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke.

(2) Both contain the name of Timothy in the opening verses ( Colossians 1:1, Philippians 1:2).

(3) Both contain greetings from Aristarchus, Mark , Epaphras, Luke , and Demas, who are with Paul at the time of writing ( Colossians 4:10-14, Philippians 1:23-24).

(4) Archippus is referred to in both letter as a fellow-soldier ( Philippians 1:2) who is to fulfill his ministry ( Colossians 4:17).

(5) Onesimus is mentioned in both writings. In Colossians 4:9 he is being sent with Tychicus and is called "one of you."

(6) Philemon was a member of a church in the Lycus River valley region and the church met in his house ( Philemon 1:2).

vii) There are many words and phrases that are clearly Pauline in the book of Colossians. For example, Adam Clark gives us the following list that shows the phrase "riches of" as being uniquely Pauline, says the use of these phrases in Ephesians and Colossians clearly marks them as Pauline:

"the riches of his glory," "his riches in glory," "riches of the glory of his inheritance," "riches of the glory of this mystery," Romans 9:23; Ephesians 3:16; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:27; "riches of his grace," twice in the Ephesians , chap. Colossians 1:7, and Colossians 2:7; "riches of the full assurance of understanding," Colossians 2:2; "riches of his goodness," Romans 2:4; "riches of the wisdom of God," Romans 11:33; "riches of Christ," Ephesians 3:8. In a like sense the adjective, Romans 10:12, "Rich unto all that call upon him," Ephesians 2:4, "Rich in mercy;" 1 Timothy 6:18, "Rich in good works." Also the adverb Colossians 3:16 : "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly." 28]

28] Adam Clarke, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction: Section II."

There are enough vocabulary words and phrases within this epistle to mark it as distinctly Pauline.

viii) Paul's Traveling Companions Are Listed- We find in Colossians 4:7-17 a list of many of Paul's traveling companions, which serve as a testimony that this is a Pauline writing.

We can therefore conclude that the epistle of Colossians has a distinct Pauline style and structure when comparing it to non-Pauline epistles of this period in history.

c) Its Doctrinal Themes are Pauline- The doctrinal positions taught within the epistle of Colossians are clearly Pauline, with its characteristic emphasis upon justification by faith and the theology of the Cross. Although it contains some unique insights into the doctrines of the Church, there are sufficient references common to other epistles, especially Ephesians , to distinguish it from the other New Testament writers. The doctrinal concepts of God in this epistle are all distinctly Pauline.

2. External Evidence - The Church fathers were in universal agreement as to the Pauline authorship of the thirteen epistles New Testament epistles authored under his name. Thus, external evidence supports Pauline authorship of the book of Romans without exception.

It is easy to see how canonicity is a testimony to Pauline authorship when we understand that the debates of the early Church fathers to accept the general epistles of 2Peter, 2,3John, and Jude was simply a debate about their authorship. Apostolic authorship meant that the works were authentic, and thus, authoritative. It was the writing's apostolic authority that granted its inclusion into the New Testament canon. Therefore, canonicity was based upon apostolic authority, and this apostolic authority was based upon the authenticity of the writing, and its authenticity was based upon the fact that it was a genuine work of one of the apostles or one who was serving directly under that apostolic authority.

B. Church Orthodoxy- The second phase in the development of the New Testament canon placed emphasis upon Church orthodoxy, or the rule of faith for the catholic Church. F. B. Westcott says, "To make use of a book as authoritative, to assume that it is apostolic, to quote it as inspired, without preface or comment, is not to hazard a new or independent opinion, but to follow an unquestioned judgment." 29] The early Church fathers cited these apostolic writings as divinely inspired by God, equal in authority to the Old Testament Scriptures. They understood that these particular books embodied the doctrines that helped them express the Church's Creed, or generally accepted rule of faith. As F. B. Westcott notes, with a single voice the Church fathers of this period rose up from the western to the eastern borders of Christendom and became heralds of the same, unified Truth. 30] This phase is best represented in the writings of the early Church fathers by the collection of the apostolic writings into the distinctive groups of the Gospels, the Pauline epistles, and the Catholic epistles, and their distribution among the churches as the rules of the Christian faith (late 2nd century thru 3rd century). These collected works of the apostles were cited by the church fathers as they expounded upon the Christian faith and established Church orthodoxy. We will look at two aspects of the development of Church Orthodoxy: (1) the Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy and (2) Early Versions.

29] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 12.

30] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan anc Co, 1875), 331.

1. Patristic Support of Authenticity, Authority, and Orthodoxy- External evidence from the early Church fathers reveals that the epistle of Colossians was in wide circulation by the middle of the second century. We know that its origin was undisputed by A.D 140 when the heretic Marcion listed it in his canon. All of the fathers support a Pauline authorship without exception. However, external testimony from the early Church fathers to Colossians is not as abundant as that of other Pauline letters. Some scholars believe that there are allusions to this epistle in the writings of Clement of Rome, Ignatius, The Epistle of Barnabas, and Justin Martyr. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen clearly refer to is as Pauline. Afterwards, the quotes increase in both amount and in definiteness. The fact that there are fewer quotes from Colossians than Ephesians may be due to its polemical nature. It is also listed in p 46, the earliest extant document containing the Pauline epistles.

The early Church fathers make direct statements declaring Pauline authorship, as well as direct quotes, strong allusions and weak allusions. Direct quotes are word for word citations from this book, strong allusions are apparent paraphrases, and weak allusions are words or phrases that appear to come from this book. There is no evidence from the extant writings of the early Church fathers that the authorship of the epistle to the Colossians was ever in question. It was not until the rise of higher criticism in the last few centuries that Pauline authorship was even brought into question. By the end of the second century it was well attested to by the early Church fathers, as were all of the Pauline epistles. It was not until the eighteenth century that its authorship was brought into question by a liberal school of scholars. Thus, the epistle of Colossians was used by the Church fathers to establish Church orthodoxy.

Here are a few of the earliest quotes from the epistle of Colossians. 31]

31] There are many other citations available from the early Church fathers that I have not used to support the traditional views of authorship of the books of the New Testament. Two of the largest collections of these citations have been compiled by Nathaniel Lardner (1684-1768) in The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, 10 vols. (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829, 1838), and by Jacques Paul Migne (1800-1875) in the footnotes of Patrologia Latina, 221vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1844-55) and Patrologia Graecae, 161vols. (Parisiis: Excudebat Migne, 1857-66).

a) Clement of Rome (A.D 96) - Clement of Rome makes several possible allusions to the epistle of Colossians.

"Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead." (1Clement 24)

Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

"Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God?" (1Clement 49)

Colossians 3:14, "And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness."

Donald Hagner offers a number of other possible allusions to Colossians. 32] For example, he notes that Clement of Rome uses the same Greek word ἀγών as Paul uses in Colossians 2:1, both dealing with agonizing for the saints.

32] Donald Alfred Hagner, The Use of the Old and New Testaments in Clement of Rome (Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1973), 229-230.

"Day and night ye were anxious for the whole brotherhood." (1Clement 2)

Colossians 2:1, "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;"

Hagner notes that the two Greek words σοφία and σύνεσις are used together by Clement of Rome as well as Paul.

"And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own Wisdom of Solomon , or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart." (1Clement 32)

Colossians 1:9, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"

Hagner notes that both discuss the issue of submissive wives.

"…ye instructed your wives to do all things with a blameless, becoming, and pure conscience, loving their husbands as in duty bound; and ye taught them that, living in the rule of obedience, they should manage their household affairs becomingly, and be in every respect marked by discretion." (1Clement 1)

Colossians 3:18, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord."

b) The Epistle of Barnabas (A.D 70 to 100) - The Epistle of Barnabas makes an allusion to the epistle of Colossians.

"Thou hast in this also [an indication of] the glory of Jesus; for in Him and to Him are all things." (The Epistle of Barnabas 12)

Colossians 1:16, "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:"

c) Ignatius of Antioch (A.D 35 to 107) - Ignatius of Antioch quotes from and makes allusions to the epistle of Colossians.

"For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God…" (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 18)

Colossians 1:25, "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;"

"…and of Jesus Christ His only-begotten Song of Solomon , and ‘the first-born of every creature,'" (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 20)

Colossians 1:15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"

"He that was crucified was ‘the first-born of every creature,' and God the Word, who also created all things. For says the apostle, ‘There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things.' And again, ‘For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and Prayer of Manasseh , the man Christ Jesus;' and, ‘By Him were all things created that are in heaven, and on earth, visible and invisible; and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.'" (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Tarsians 4)

Colossians 1:15-17, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."

"My soul be for yours, when I attain to Jesus. Remember my bonds." (The Epistle of Ignatius to the Antiochians 8)

Colossians 4:18, "The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen."

d) Justin Martyr (A.D 100 to 165) - Justin Martyr makes a possible allusion to Colossians 1:15.

"…namely, that the first-begotten of all creation should become incarnate by the Virgin's womb." (Dialogue of Justin 84)

Colossians 1:15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"

e) Theophilus of Antioch (later 2nd century) - Theophilus of Antioch alludes to Colossians 1:15-16

"For before anything came into being He had Him as a counsellor, being His own mind and thought. But when God wished to make all that He determined on, He begot this Word, uttered, the first-born of all creation…" (To Autolychus 222)

Colossians 1:15-16, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:"

f) Irenaeus (A.D 130 to 200) - Irenaeus clearly states that Paul was the author of Colossians.

"That he was not merely a follower, but also a fellow-labourer of the apostles, but especially of Paul, Paul has himself declared also in the Epistles, saying: ‘Demas hath forsaken me, ... and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.' From this he shows that he was always attached to and inseparable from him. And again he says, in the Epistle to the Colossians: " Luke , the beloved physician, greets you.'" (Against Heresies 3141)

g) Clement of Alexandria (A.D 150 to 215) - Clement of Alexandria clearly notes that Paul is the author of Colossians as he quotes from this epistle numerous times.

"according to the apostle…Also in the Epistle to the Colossians he [Paul] writes, ‘Admonishing every Prayer of Manasseh , and teaching every man in all Wisdom of Solomon , that we may present every man perfect in Christ.'" (The Stromata 11)

"Rightly, therefore, the divine apostle says… For there is an instruction of the perfect, of which, writing to the Colossians , he says, ‘We cease not to pray for you, and beseech that ye may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye may walk worthy of the Lord to all pleasing; being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might according to the glory of His power.'" (The Stromata 510)

"So also to the Colossians , who were Greek converts, ‘Beware lest any man spoil you by philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of this world, and not after Christ,'" (The Stromata 68)

"And in that to the Colossians it is said, ‘Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things; for this is well pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged...'" (The Stromata 48)

h) Tertullian (A.D 160 to 225) - Tertullian quotes extensively from the epistle of Colossians in his work Against Marcion 519 in order to defend the godhead of the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, he notes Paul as the author of this epistle in another writing.

"From all these, when the apostle would restrain us, he expressly names philosophy as that which he would have us be on our guard against. Writing to the Colossians , he says, ‘See that no one beguile you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, and contrary to the wisdom of the Holy Ghost.' He had been at Athens, and had in his interviews (with its philosophers) become acquainted with that human wisdom which pretends to know the truth, whilst it only corrupts it, and is itself divided into its own manifold heresies, by the variety of its mutually repugnant sects." (The Prescription Against Heretics 7)

Tertullian also quotes from Colossians in his work On the Resurrection of the Flesh and credits it to Paul the apostle.

"The apostle indeed teaches, in his Epistle to the Colossians, that we were once dead, alienated, and enemies to the Lord in our minds, whilst we were living in wicked works; that we were then buried with Christ in baptism, and also raised again with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. ‘And you, (adds he), when ye were dead in sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.' And again: ‘If ye are dead with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?'….These we should not ‘seek,' nor ‘set our affection on,' if we had them already in our possession. He also adds: ‘For ye are dead'--to your sins, he means, not to yourselves—‘and your life is hid with Christ in God.'" (On The Resurrection of the Flesh 23)

i) Origen (A.D 185 to 254) - Origen clearly notes that Paul is the author of Colossians.

"And in the writings of Paul, who was carefully trained in Jewish customs, and converted afterwards to Christianity by a miraculous appearance of Jesus, the following words may be read in the Epistle to the Colossians: ‘Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind; and not holding the Head, from which all the body by joint and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.'" (Against Celsus 58)

Origen mentions Paul's letter to the Colossians as one of Paul's epistles.

"And we say to those who hold similar opinions to those of Celsus: ‘Paul then, we are to suppose, had before his mind the idea of no pre-eminent wisdom when he professed to speak wisdom among them that are perfect?' Now, as he spoke with his customary boldness when in making such a profession he said that he was possessed of no Wisdom of Solomon , we shall say in reply: first of all examine the Epistles of him who utters these words, and look carefully at the meaning of each expression in them--say, in those to the Ephesians , and Colossians , and Thessalonians, and Philippians , and Romans ,--and show two things, both that you understand Paul"s words, and that you can demonstrate any of them to be silly or foolish." (Against Celsus 3221)

2. Manuscript Evidence - Paul's epistles are found in numerous early Greek manuscripts. One of the earliest manuscripts, the Chester Beatty codex (p 46), which was probably written in Egypt near the end of the second century, contains eight Pauline epistles ( Romans , 1 & 2 Corinthians ,, Galatians ,, Ephesians ,, Philippians ,, Colossians , 1Thess) and the epistle of Hebrews. 33] It probably contained the entire Pauline corpus in its original collection. There are a number of third century manuscripts that contain portions of the Pauline corpus, and a number of fourth century manuscripts that originally contained the entire New Testament (Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Sinaiticus). These ancient manuscripts containing the collective body of Pauline epistles testify to the fact that the Church at large circulated these writings as a part of its orthodox faith.

33] Philip W. Comfort, and David P. Barrett, eds, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, c 1999, 2001), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "P 46 (P. Chester Beatty II + P. Mich. Inv 6238)."

3. Early Versions- The earliest translations of the New Testament, written when the canon was being formed, included the Pauline epistles; 34] the Old Latin (2nd to 4th c), the Coptic (3rd to 4th c), the Peshitta (4th c), the Armenian (5th c), the Georgian (5th c), and the Ethiopic (6th c). 35] The Pauline epistles would not have been translated with the other New Testament writings unless it was considered a part of the orthodox beliefs of the Church at large.

34] Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (Oxford: University Press, 1968), 69-86.

35] The Old Latin Bible manuscripts of the fifth century, Codex Bezae (Gospels, Acts , Catholic epistles), Codex Claromontanus (Pauline epistles), and Codex Floriacensis ( Acts , Catholic epistles, Revelation) were used prior to Jerome's Vulgate (beginning A. D 382), and these Old Latin manuscripts testify to the canonization of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament at an early date. See Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, eds, The Greek New Testament, Third Edition (United Bible Societies, c 1966, 1968, 1975), xxxi-xxxiv.

C. Catholicity- The third and final phase of New Testament canonicity placed emphasis upon the aspect of catholicity, or the general acceptance of the canonical books. F. B. Westcott says, "The extent of the Canon, like the order of the Sacraments, was settled by common usage, and thus the testimony of Christians becomes the testimony of the Church." 36] This phase is best represented in the period of Church councils of the fourth century as bishops met and agreed upon a list of canonical books generally accepted by the catholic Church. However, approved canons were listed by individual Church fathers as early as the second century. These books exhibited a dynamic impact upon the individual believers through their characteristic of divine inspiration, transforming them into Christian maturity, being used frequently by the church at large. We will look at two testimonies of catholicity: (1) the Early Church Canons, and (2) Early Church Councils.

36] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 12.

1. Early Church Canons - The thirteen Pauline epistles are found within the earliest Church canons and versions. Thus, they support the epistle of Colossians as a part of the body of Pauline epistles. It is listed in the two earliest canons. Tertullian (A.D 160-225) tells us that Marcion the heretic accepted it in his Instrumentum (A.D 140), 37] and it is found in The Muratorian Canon as one of Paul's thirteen New Testament epistles (A.D 180) (Fragments of Caius 3: Canon Muratorianus 2) (ANF 5). It is found in every canonical list thereafter. Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340) includes them in his list of "acknowledged books." 38] Athanasius gives us a canonical list includes them (c 367). 39] Cyril of Jerusalem (A.D 315-386) includes them in his list. 40]

37] See Against Marcion 517.

38] See Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 331-7; 324-25.

39] Athansius, Festal Letters 395 (Easter, 367) (NPF 2 4)

40] See Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 436 (NPF 2 7)

2. Early Church Councils- The earliest major Church councils named the Pauline epistles as authentic writings; Nicea (c 325-40), Hippo (393), Carthage (397), and Carthage (419). This would not have been done unless the church at large believed them to be canonical.

During the fourth century, the Roman emperor Constantine was converted to Christianity and ordered Eusebius to produce fifty copies of the Scriptures. 41] The production and distribution of these Bibles, along with the Church synods that followed, served to confirm the twenty-seven books of the New Testament as canonical and authoritative. The early Church traditions of authorship and authenticity became firmly embedded within their canonicity. Therefore, citations of the New Testament Scriptures and later manuscript evidence after this period of Church history only serve to repeat traditions that had already become well-known and established among the churches of the fourth century.

41] Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament, fourth edition (London: Macmillan and Co, 1875), 422-426.

III. Date and Place of Writing

Most scholars agree that Paul the apostle wrote his epistle to the Colossians along with his other Prison Epistles during his first imprisonment in Rome that took place between A.D 60,62.

A. Date- There are a surprising number of factors that can be used to date the epistle of Colossians.

1. The Prison Epistles- The most logical method of dating Colossians is to place it within the group of writings called the Prison Epistles and evaluate their dates together.

a) Ephesians ,, Colossians ,, Philemon - The date of writing of the Prison Epistles relies largely upon one's view of the place where he wrote it. If Paul wrote it during his imprisonment in Caesarea, it would have been between A.D 58,60. But, if he wrote it during his first Roman imprisonment, which most scholars believe and which is the traditional view held up until the eighteenth century, he would have written it between A.D 60,62. This is because Church tradition tells us that Paul was martyred during his second Roman imprisonment, which took place around A.D 65 or 66. For those who opt for a single Roman imprisonment, the date of writing would be as late as A.D 62to 64.

We can use internal evidence to establish the fact that Paul wrote and sent Ephesians , Colossians and Philemon at the same time using the same messengers. According to Ephesians 6:21, the letter of Ephesians was sent by the hand of Tychicus.

Ephesians 6:21, "But that ye also may know my affairs, and how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things:"

According to Colossians 4:7-9, the letter of Colossians was sent by the hands of Tychicus and Onesimus.

Colossians 4:7-9, "All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts; With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here."

The epistle of Philemon was probably sent by the hand of Onesimus. Thus, it is very likely that Paul sent these three letters at the same time by the same group of men who traveled together from Rome to Asia Minor.

Regarding the date when these men traveled, Paul's statement in Philemon 1:22 is interpreted by some to refer to an immediate release. If Song of Solomon , this would place the date of Ephesians , Colossians and Philemon late in his two-year captivity.

Philemon 1:22, "But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you."

However, other scholars interpret Philemon 1:22 to read that Paul was simply being optimistic regarding his release and not referring to an immediate release. The safest date to give these three epistles is the middle of his imprisonment.

b) Philippians - Regarding Philippians , we can note verses within this epistle to establish a date near the end of his two-year imprisonment and after the writing of the other three Prison Epistles. Here are several supporting indications:

(1) The Illness of Epaphroditus- In Philippians 2:25-30, Paul discusses the illness of Epaphroditus, which is not mentioned in the other three epistles although he was well known to Philemon ( Philemon 1:23) and to the Colossians ( Colossians 4:12). Perhaps his illness took place after the writing of the first three epistles.

(2) References to Paul's Co-workers- We know that Timothy, Luke , Demas, Aristarchus, Tychicus, Onesimus, Mark and Epaphras were with Paul when he wrote Ephesians , Colossians and Philemon. However, Paul's epistle to the Philippians only mentions Timothy and Epaphroditus. Thus, we may conclude that Paul had sent the others out and was left with Epaphroditus as his messenger to the Philippians.

(3) Epaphroditus Sent to the Philippians - In Philippians 2:25-30 Paul sends Epaphroditus to the Philippians while in the other three epistles, this individual remains with Paul.

(4) References to Paul's Release from Prison- In Philippians 1:25 speaks of being confident of his release while in the other prison epistles he lacks this assurance.

Thus, most scholars date Philippians after Ephesians -, Colossians -Philemon and near the end of his imprisonment.

2. The Writings of the Early Church Fathers- We can look to the early Church fathers for support that one of these Prison Epistles, that of Ephesians , enjoyed early acceptance and widespread use among the churches. Since most scholars believe that the language of Ephesians can be found in Clement's epistle to the Corinthians (1Clement 2, 36, 46), we know that it must have been written before A.D 95.

3. Historical References- Donald Guthrie wisely notes that the absence of certain historical events, such as the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D 70) and the Roman persecution of the church (beginning about A.D 64) suggest a date of writing that precedes such important events. In addition, the description of the church in its early stages of development along with the absence of descriptions of developed ecclesiastical order fits the dates given by early Church tradition. 42] This means that we can look into the Pauline epistles and place the church within a particular historical setting that preceded the order found in the late first century and early second century.

42] Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grover, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 499.

We can, therefore, date the Prison Epistles between A.D 60,62, with Philippians being written last and near the end of his two-year imprisonment. We are certain that they were all written before the burning of Rome in A.D 64during the time of Nero.

B. Place of Writing- The strongest evidence supports a Roman imprisonment as the place of the writing of the Prison Epistles.

1. Internal Evidence- Internal evidence supports the popular view that the epistles to the Ephesians ,, Colossians , Philemon and Philippians were written while Paul was in prison. This is because there are a number of verses within these letters that refer to this imprisonment:

Ephesians 3:1, "For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,"

Ephesians 3:13, "Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory."

Ephesians 4:1, "I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,"

Ephesians 6:20, "For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

Philippians 1:7, "Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace."

Philippians 1:13-14, "So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."

Philippians 1:16, "The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:"

Colossians 1:24, "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body"s sake, which is the church:"

Colossians 2:1, "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;"

Colossians 4:18, "The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen."

Philemon 1:1, "Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,"

Philemon 1:9, "Yet for love"s sake I rather beseech thee, being such an one as Paul the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ."

Whether it was Paul's imprisonment in Caesarea or Rome or another place is still debated. Here are some reasons why Rome is the favored place of origin among scholars today.

a) Roman Origin (A.D 60-62) - There is strong internal evidence within the Prison Epistles to support a Roman origin. We know that Paul had more liberties to preach in his Roman imprisonment. The references to a palace and the Imperial household better describe Rome. Ephesians describes Paul as an ambassador with a message to a King. The Prison Epistles suggest a pending Roman trial and release. Paul's list of companions suggests a Roman origin. Finally, early Church tradition supports a Roman imprisonment.

(1) Paul Had More Liberties to Preach in His Roman Imprisonment- We know that Paul wrote these epistles in an environment that allowed him free intercourse with his friends ( Ephesians 6:18-20, Philippians 1:12-18, Colossians 4:2-4). From the book of Acts , we know that Paul did have some liberties to have visitors while imprisoned in Caesarea.

Acts 24:23, "And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him."

However in Rome somewhat greater liberties were granted to Paul so that he "preached the kingdom of God and taught those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

Acts 28:30-31, "And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him."

Thus, Paul had greater liberties in his Roman imprisonment than he did at Caesarea. Therefore, most scholars support a Roman origin for the epistles to the Ephesians ,, Philippians , Colossians and Philemon because of such internal evidence and because of the weight of early church tradition.

(2) References to a Palace and the Imperial Household Better Describe Rome- If we consider references found within the Prison Epistles, which most scholars do, then we find in Philippians comments about a palace and the Imperial household. This description more easily fits Rome than Caesarea.

Philippians 1:13, "So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;"

Philippians 4:22, "All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar"s household."

(3) Ephesians Describes Paul as an Ambassador With a Message to a King- Ephesians 6:19-20 describes a situation in which Paul considered himself to be an "ambassador" with a message.

Ephesians 6:19-20, "And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

This verse implies that Paul believed he had been given a message by his Lord to deliver to a king. He appears to consider the fact that he was being given many other opportunities to minister to other people of great influence. Thus, he requested prayer that he would speak words that would bring about the greatest impact in the hearts of his hearers. This fits a Roman imprisonment.

(4) The Prison Epistles Suggest a Pending Roman Trial and Release- We see from Philippians 1:19-26; Philippians 2:17; Philippians 2:23 and Philemon 1:22 that Paul was soon facing a trial with the expectation of being released. These verses fit better with a trial before Caesar than the intermediate trial in Caesarea that is recorded in Acts 24-26, because there was nothing about his Caesarean imprisonment that pointed towards a release.

(a) Paul's Life Was Hanging in a Balance- Philippians 1:19-26 reveals that Paul's life was hanging in the balance. However, this was not the atmosphere of Paul"s Caesarean imprisonment, as he was prepared to appeal unto Caesar had a conviction of punishment been decreed. Note:

Acts 25:11,"For if I be an offender, or have committed anything worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar."

(b) The Trial Was Nearing Completion- Philippians 1:25; Philippians 2:24 reveal that the trial seems to be nearing its completion and Paul expects to be set free. He expresses strong conviction that he "shall remain and continue with you all" ( Philippians 1:25; cf. Philippians 2:24). The concept of a trial coming to a final conclusive end fits a Roman trial, rather than a Caesarean trial.

Philippians 1:25, "And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;"

Philippians 2:24, "But I trust in the Lord that I also myself shall come shortly."

(5) Paul's List of Companions Suggests a Roman Origin- Also, the fact that Ephesians 6:21-22, Colossians 4:7-9 and Philemon 1:10-12 reveal that Paul was dispatching Tychicus accompanied by Onesimus with all three of these letters on the same journey strongly suggests a Roman origin. This is because Onesimus was not associated with Paul's Caesarean imprisonment according to the book of Acts , although Tychicus was with Paul at the close of his third missionary journey. Onesimus would have had less chance of gaining access to and being discipled by Paul at Caesarea than at Rome.

In addition, Louis Berkhof notes that the many companions of Paul, viz. Tychicus, Aristarchus, Marcus, Justus, Epaphras, Luke and Demas, are quite different from those that accompanied him on his last journey to Jerusalem ( Acts 20:4). 43]

43] Louis Berkhof, The Epistle to the Ephesians , in Introduction to the New Testament, electronic edition 2004-04-02 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) [on-line]; accessed 23April 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/newtestament.html; Internet, 106-107.

Acts 20:4, "And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus."

The mention of Marcus, the cousin of Barnabas in Colossians 4:10, is according to tradition, a clear reference to Rome.

In addition, we know from the book of Acts that Aristarchus and Luke accompanied Paul to Rome by ship.

Acts 27:2, "And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us."

Acts 28:14, "Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome."

We know from the epistles of Colossians and Philemon that both of these companions were with Paul when he wrote his prison epistles.

Colossians 4:10, "Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister"s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)"

Colossians 4:14, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you."

Philemon 1:24, "Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers."

We must note that both Aristarchus and Luke accompanied Paul to Jerusalem also when he was arrested and imprisoned in Caesarea.

Acts 20:4, "And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus."

(6) Early Church Tradition- There is one witness from early tradition that supports a Roman origin. The Marcionite Prologue, which was attached to this epistle, says, "He composes a familiar letter to Philemon on behalf of Onesimus his servant. He writes to him, however, from Rome, from prison." 44]

44] Ben C. Smith, "The Marcionite Prologues to the Pauline Epistles," (Text Excavation 2010) [on-line]; accessed 11May 2010; available from http://www.textexcavation.com/marcioniteprologues.html; Internet; See Codex Fuldensis: Novum Testamentum Latine Interprete Hieronymo, ed. Ernestus Ranke (Marburgi & Lipsiaei: Sumtibus N. G. Elwerti Bibliopolae Academici, 1867), 310.

b) Caesarean Origin (A.D 57-59) - Of recent years, some scholars have asked if some or all of the Prison Epistles could have been written while Paul was being held in prison at Caesarea. We know from the book of Acts that the Roman procurator of Judea, Marcus Antonius Felix, hoping to receive a bribe from Paul, held him under house arrest for two years while allowing his friends free access to him. Those who support a Caesarean imprisonment base their argument upon its closer proximity to Asia. But arguments for a Caesarean location are only speculative and have no internal or external evidence to support it. The strongest argument against a Caesarean imprisonment is the fact that Paul was expecting his release to come soon ( Philippians 1:19-26; Philippians 2:17; Philippians 2:23 and Philemon 1:22). This is because Paul understood that his appeal to Caesar at Caesarea meant a delay in his trial and release. The fact that Paul makes no mention of Philippi in his Prison Epistles makes a Caesarean origin questionable because he hosted Paul while visiting Caesarea.

c) Ephesian Origin (A.D 54-55) - In recent years, there has been some speculation about an Ephesian origin. Although the New Testament tells us that Paul was in prison at other times besides Rome and Caesarea ( 2 Corinthians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 11:23), we have no indications within the Scriptures or early Church tradition as to these locations. However, speculation as to an Ephesian imprisonment is not a recent idea. The heretic Marcion first suggested such a location. The Marcionite Prologue to Colossians reads, "The apostle, therefore, already arrested, writes to them from Ephesus." 45] Some modern scholars suggest that Ephesus would be the most likely place for an imprisonment because it was where he faced his fiercest opposition. They point to passages such as Romans 16:4; Romans 16:7; 1 Corinthians 15:32; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10; 2 Corinthians 11:23 to support their arguments. Others base their argument upon its closer proximity to the destination of the prison epistles. Robert Brow suggests that Luke deliberately omitted an Ephesian imprisonment because the book of Acts was written as a legal defense of the Gospel and the story of this imprisonment would not have helped in Paul's defense. Brow also suggests that the circumstances and people involved fits an Ephesian imprisonment better where Paul also wrote his second letter Timothy. 46] However, any support for this location from Scripture or the early Church fathers is entirely lacking.

45] Ben C. Smith, "The Marcionite prologues to the Pauline epistles," (Text Excavation 2010) [on-line]; accessed 11May 2010; available from http://www.textexcavation.com/marcioniteprologues.html; Internet.

46] Robert Brow, Ephesians Commentary (Odessa ON: J.L.P Digital Publications, 2002) [on-line]; accessed 10 May 2002; available from http://www.brow.on.ca. Internet; "Introduction: The Church in Ephesus."

2. External Evidence- All of the early Church fathers place Paul in Rome during the writing of the Prison Epistles. (The one exception is the heretic Marcion who places Paul in Ephesus when writing the epistle to the Ephesians and then makes an apparent contradiction by placing Paul in Rome when writing his letters to the Philippians and to Philemon.)

a) Jerome (A.D 342to 420) - Jerome placed the writings of the Prison Epistles in Rome during his imprisonment.

"The fourth ground of his censure is in the beginning of my Second Book, in which I expounded the statement which St. Paul makes ‘For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.' The passage in itself is perfectly plain; and I give, therefore, only that part of the comment on it which lends itself to malevolent remark: The words which describe Paul as the prisoner of Jesus Christ for the Gentiles may be understood of his martyrdom, since it was when he was thrown into chains at Rome that he wrote this Epistle, at the same time with those to Philemon and the Colossians and the Philippians, as we have formerly shewn." (Jerome's Apology for Himself Against the Books of Rufinus 1) (NPF 2 3)

b) John Chrysostom (A.D 347-406) - John Chrysostom the writings of the Prison Epistles in Rome during his imprisonment.

"But it was from Rome he wrote to the Philippians; wherefore he says. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar"s household: and to the Hebrews from thence likewise, wherefore, he says, all they of Italy salute them. And the Epistle to Timothy, he sent also from Rome, when in prison; which seems to me, too, to be the last of all the Epistles; and this is plain from the end: For I am now ready to be offered, he says, and the lime of my departure is at hand. But that he ended his life there, is clear, I may say, to every one. And that to Philemon is also very late, (for he wrote it in extreme old age, wherefore also he said, as Paul the aged, and now a prisoner in Christ Jesus,) yet previous to that to the Colossians. For in writing to the Colossians , he says. All my stale shall Tychicus declare unto you, whom I have sent with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother. For this was that Onesimus in whose behalf he composed the Epistle to Philemon. And that this was no other of the same name with him, is plain from the mention of Archippus…And that to the Galatians seems to me to be before that to the Romans." 47]

47] John Chrysostom, Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of S. Paul the Apostle to the Romans , in A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and the West, vol 7 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 3.

"He wrote the epistle [Ephesians] from Rome, and, as he himself informs us, in bonds. Pray for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds." 48]

48] John Chrysostom, Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of S. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians , in A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and the West, vol 5 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1840), 99.

c) Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D 393-466) - Theodoret places the prison epistles in Rome.

"And after these things he wrote to the Philippians from Rome, and it is clear (at) the end of the epistle. Clearly, he teaches us (at) the end; for he says, ‘They of the household of Caesar greet you.' And also indeed at the same time he wrote to the Ephesians and to the Colossians. [PG 8241C-D] (author's translation)

d) Euthalius (5th c.) - Euthalius places the prison epistles in Rome. In his argument to the epistle of Colossians , Euthalius writes, "This one he sent from Rome, not yet indeed having seen them, but having heard about them." (PG 85 Colossians 765C)

e) Pseudo-Athanasius (Synopsis of Sacred Scripture) (4th-6th c.) - In the Synopsis of Sacred Scripture, Pseudo-Athanasius (4th-6th c.) begins his summary of Colossians by saying, "This one he writes from Rome, not indeed having seen them, but having heard about them." (PG 28 Colossians 420D)

f) Ebedjesu (d 1318) - Ebedjesu, the Syrian bishop, reflects medieval tradition by saying Paul wrote his epistle to the Colossians from the city of Rome. 49]

49] Ebedjesu writes, "Besides these there are fourteen epistles of the great Apostle Paul…the Epistle to the Colossians , written at Rome, and sent by Tychicus the true disciple." See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 4 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 321; George Percy Badger, The Nestorians and their Rituals, vol 2 (London: Joseph Masters, 1852), 362.

g) The Authorized Version (1611) - Euthalius, an unknown deacon of the fifth century, is believed to have provided the testimonies for the subscriptions to the Pauline epistles found in the Authorized Version (1611). 50] However, not all of these subscriptions match the comments of Euthalius (compare the differences in 1,2Corinthians and 2Thessalonians). Thus, the committee of the Authorized Version probably relied on various sources for their subscriptions. A subscription attached to this epistle of Colossians in the Authorized Version (1611) reads, "Written from Rome to the Colossians , by Tychicus and Onesimus." 51]

50] Matthew George Easton, "Subscriptions," in Easton's Bible Dictionary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, c 1897), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

51] The Holy Bible: A Facsimile in a reduced size of the Authorized Version published in the year 1611, ed. Alfred William Pollard (Oxford: The University Press, 1911).

In conclusion, internal and external evidence support a Roman imprisonment for the place of writing for Ephesians ,, Philippians , Colossians and Philemon. Any other conclusion lacks logical support.

IV. Recipients

We know from the opening verses of Colossians that Paul was writing to the church in that city.

Colossians 1:2, "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." ( τοῖς ἐν κολοσσαῖς ἁγίοις καὶ πιστοῖς ἀδελφοῖς ἐν χριστῷ)

However, a closer look at this verse in the Greek reveals that its word order allows this verse to be translated just like Ephesians 1:1.

Ephesians 1:1, "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:" ( τοῖς ἁγίοις τοῖς οὖσιν [ ἐν ἐφέσῳ] καὶ πιστοῖς ἐν χριστῷ ἰησοῦ,)

If we follow the Greek word order, Colossians 1:2 could as well be translated:

YLT, "to the saints in Colossae, and to the faithful brethren in Christ."

We can conclude that just as its sister letter to the Ephesians , this letter to the church at Colossae is intended to be a circular letter to those churches in the region. If we look for evidence of its circular nature within this epistle, we find Paul referring to two other churches within this region, which were located at the nearby cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis ( Colossians 2:1, Colossians 4:13). Paul even goes so far as to ask the Colossians to read this epistle to the church at Laodicea ( Colossians 4:16).

Colossians 2:1, "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;"

Colossians 4:13, "For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis."

Colossians 4:16, "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea."

We can conclude that Paul was writing to the church at Colossi as well as those in the surrounding region, perhaps intending to reach those believers in the Lycus valley in the same way that Paul sent his epistle to the Ephesians and those churches in the region. In addition, we know from several verses within this epistle that Paul was writing to a church in which he had never visited.

Colossians 1:3-4, "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,"

Colossians 2:1, "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;"

Regarding the makeup of the people in the Lycus valley region where the city of Colossi was located, we know from historical evidence that the inhabitants were primarily Greeks. Josephus tells us that Jews had been living in the region of Phrygia two centuries before Christ as a result of Alexander the Great having garrisoned the regions of Lydia and Phrygia with two thousand Mesopotamian and Babylonian Jews during the time of a threatened revolt (Antiquities 1234). Thus, scholars believe that there would have been Jews among the congregation at Colossi.

We have internal evidence that the church at Colossi was made up largely of Gentiles. For example, after telling the believers at Colossi that God had commissioned him to make know the mystery of the Gospel to the Gentiles ( Colossians 1:27), Paul then proceeds to tell them the great burden he has to proclaim this message to them ( Colossians 1:28 to Colossians 2:2).

Colossians 1:27, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"

Paul also describes them as "alienated" and "enemies," terms that did not fit with a Jewish heritage, thus implying Gentiles.

Colossians 1:21, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled"

Then in Colossians 2:13 Paul calls them "uncircumcision," a phrase that clearly designated Gentiles.

Colossians 2:13, "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;"

In addition, the fact that there are no quotations or allusions to the Old Testament in the epistle of Colossians indicates that the recipients of this letter were primarily Gentile. Therefore, Paul was probably addressing a group of believers in the Lycus valley region that he had either never met or only met briefly who were mostly Gentiles with a few Jews having been converted to Christianity.

V. Occasion

We know from internal evidence that the Prison Epistles, as they are formally called, were written while Paul, the apostle, was in prison. What situations would have occasioned Paul to write the four letters of Ephesians ,, Philippians , Colossians and Philemon? If we read Paul's Prison Epistles, we find several specific occasions woven together to necessitate the writing of three of these epistles at one time and the letter of Philippians soon afterwards. While in his first Roman imprisonment, Paul enjoyed the privileges of entertaining guests. No doubt, the Jewish community came to inquire of the Christian sect for which Paul was bound in chains. Also, the believers at Rome as well as his faithful coworkers, such as Luke , Aristarchus, Marcus, Epaphras and Timothy, came to comfort him, which Paul appreciates by recognizing them within his Prison Epistles. While in prison, Paul was able to send and receive messages of his work in the East.

Colossians - On one of these occasions when guests arrived to visit Paul, he received news from Epaphras about the believers at Colossi. This faithful messenger and perhaps the founding missionary of the church at Colossi ( Colossians 1:7) had recently come to Rome and briefed Paul about the progress of the Gospel in this church that Paul had never actually visited. He informed Paul about their faith in Christ and of their love for one another ( Colossians 1:4; Colossians 1:8). It was within the context of this report from Epaphras that Paul found out the disturbing news of heretical teachings within the Colossian church. He would have seen the immediate need to address a growing threat of false teachings brought in by the Greek minds as well as the Jews. Paul had to combat Jewish as well as Hellenistic thoughts. Louis Berkhof wisely notes that the Colossian error was a combination of Jewish doctrine, heathen philosophy and Christian beliefs that make it impossible to say that Paul was confronting a particular heretical group. 52]

52] Louis Berkhof, The Epistle to Colossians , in Introduction to the New Testament, electronic edition 2004-04-02 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) [on-line]; accessed 23April 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/newtestament.html; Internet, 116.

An early form of Gnosticism, a heretical movement that would make its full expression during the second century, was being introduced the church at this time. This heresy taught that Jesus Christ was neither fully God nor fully man. They taught that the man Jesus received His divine nature at His water baptism and that the Christ ascended to Heaven just before His death on the Cross. This group introduced a lifestyle of either extreme asceticism or fleshly indulgence believing that the human body was inherently evil.

The Judaizers were also attempting to jeopardize the faith of this growing church. We find a description of the many Jewish sects and their teachings from the writings of Josephus, (Wars 282-13), who tells us that these sects were scattered throughout the Diaspora. Paul came against these Jewish sects who were preaching that Christians had to embrace certain Old Testament rituals out of the Mosaic Law in order to continue in right standing with God. Therefore, Paul felt compelled to write to the church at Colossi as soon as possible in order to head off this threat and to establish them further in the faith.

Philemon - We know from the context of the short epistle of Philemon that Onesimus, a slave that belonged to Philemon , had fled to Paul for freedom. We do not know the cause of his flight nor why he sought Paul. During his exile in Rome Paul had led him to the Lord ( Colossians 1:10). The need to bring reconciliation to this situation resulted in Paul's letter to his owner. Paul's letter implies from his use of the words "wronged" and "owes" that the slave may have robbed his master in some way ( Colossians 1:18). Thus, in Paul's epistle to Philemon , we find Paul anxious to reconcile the split between a master and his slave. He asked that the slave be reconciled to the household without suffering harsh punishment. Although Paul suggests that Onesimus would be more beneficial to his owner, at no place in the letter does he actually ask Philemon to set him free.

It is likely that the complicated Roman laws of dealing with the return of fugitive slaves to their masters caused Paul to deal with this situation privately rather than making it known to the Roman officials. Albert Barnes refers to Macknight, who says that the laws of Phrygia allowed the master to punish a slave "without applying to any magistrate." 53] Barnes says history suggests that the Phrygians were a severe people. 54] Thus, we can assume that Philemon had some concerns of being restored to his owner.

53] James MacKnight, "A New Literal Translation of St Paul's Epistle to Philemon ," in A New Literal Translation From the Original Greek, of all the Apostolical Epistles, with a Commentary, and Notes, Philological, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical, vol 3, fourth edition (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; T. Hamilton, Paternoster Row; R. Ogle; J. Ogle; M. Ogle, 1809), 308. MacKnight cites Hugo Grotius as the source of this comment. See Hugo Grotius, Annotationes in Epistolam Ad Philemonem, in Hugonis Grotii Annotationes in Novem Testamentum, vol 7 (Groningae: W. Zuidema), 344.

54] Albert Barnes, The Epistle of Paul to Philemon , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction: Section 25." Barnes cites Quintus Curtius Rufus, History of the Wars of Alexander 51. See Quintus Curtius His History of the Wars of Alexander, 2vols, trans. John Digby (London: A. Millar, 1747).

We know from internal evidence that the epistle to the Colossians was delivered together with the epistle to Philemon. Therefore, we find Paul writing two letters, one to the church at Colossi and one to Philemon , using the same messengers to deliver them. Paul soon dispatched his close associate, Tychicus, a native of Ephesus, to this region with Onesimus to deliver these three letters. Paul's letter to Philemon could have served as a cover letter as an indirect way of introducing Onesimus to the churches that he and Tychicus may encounter on their journey to this region.

Ephesians - From these two occasions, Paul also took the opportunity to write his less personal letter to the church at Ephesus, which he intended to be circulated among the other churches in this region. For the epistle to the Ephesians we do find one hint as to why he would have written to them in his last message to the elders of that church in Acts 20:17-38. In this speech, Paul warned them that "grievous wolves" would soon enter the flock and lead some astray. This foresight led Paul to write to them in order to further ground them in the hope of their salvation and in the doctrines upon which they placed their hope.

Paul was facing possible execution and his mind and heart were on eternal matters more than ever before: for he reveals his longing to depart and be with the Lord in his later epistle to the Philippians.

Philippians 1:23, "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:"

Therefore, Paul took this opportunity to reveal in this circular letter the highest level of theology that God had revealed to him regarding the eternal purpose and plan of God for his Church.

Philippians - At a later date, the church at Philippi sent Epaphroditus to Paul with a love offering and with instructions to minister to his needs.

Philippians 4:18, "But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God."

Philippians 2:25, "Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants."

The events of this visit could have occasioned Paul's letter to the Philippians. For we assume that Epaphroditus brought news of the progress of church growth at Philippi and any pending problems. While in Rome, this messenger becomes gravely ill, near unto death. When he was strong enough to return, Paul sent him back and informs the church of this illness ( Philippians 2:26-30). This return gave Paul the opportunity to write them a thank you letter for their offering to him and to give Epaphroditus the praise the he was worthy of receiving for his deed. Therefore, he is most likely the one who carried this epistle to the Philippian Church. In addition, Paul was now intending to send Timothy to Philippi to deal with several issues that Epaphroditus has reported to him. Paul would first send Timothy and then follow up with a personal visit ( Philippians 2:19; Philippians 2:24). This letter thus serves to notify the church at Philippi to prepare for such visits.

Summary- Thus, we find a number of occasions woven together in a way that compelled Paul to write three of his Prison Epistles at one time. Paul soon dispatched his close associate, Tychicus, a native of Ephesus, to this region with Onesimus to deliver these three letters. Paul's letter to Philemon could have served as a cover letter as an indirect way of introducing Onesimus to the churches that he and Tychicus may encounter on their journey to this region. It was after these events that Epaphroditus arrived with a gift from the church at Philippi. The illness of this messenger and Paul's need to give them a reply of gratitude occasioned Paul to sit down near the end of his first imprisonment and write his letter to the Philippians.

LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)

"Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.

If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew."

(Thomas Schreiner) 55]

55] Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c 1990, 2011), 11.

Within the historical setting of the early church, the authors of the New Testament epistles chose to write to various groups of believers using the literary style of the formal Greco-Roman epistle, which contains a traditional salutation, the body, and a conclusion. Thus, the New Testament epistles are assigned to the literary genre called "epistle genre," In the introductory section of literary style, a comparison will be made of the Pauline epistles, as well as a brief look at the grammar and syntax of the epistle of Colossians.

VI. Comparison of the Pauline Epistles

The epistle to the Colossians is typical in style and structure to other New Testament Pauline epistles. Its introduction is also similar to contemporary letters of this period in history with its initial reference to the author and recipients followed by greetings. However, it has some marked distinctions.

A. Comparison of the Epistle to Ephesians and Colossians - No two books of the Holy Scriptures bear as much resemblance with one another as the epistles to Ephesians and Colossians. Approximately one third of Colossians is repeated in Ephesians with Curtis Vaughan citing Maurice Goguel, who states that seventy-three verses are similar between the two books. 56] Although they contain two different underlying themes, they were written by the same person at approximately the same time within the same general occasion and delivered by the same messengers to the same region of Asia. As a result, many of the verses and passages are similar. Adam Clark lists the following examples:

56] Curtis Vaughan, Colossians , The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 11, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, and Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001), "Introduction: Authorship: b. The Arguments Against Pauline Authorship: 2) Dependence: a) Colossians."

Ephesians 1:7 Colossians 1:14

Ephesians 1:10 Colossians 1:20

Ephesians 1:19-23 Colossians 2:12-13

Ephesians 3:2 Colossians 1:25

Ephesians 4:2-4 Colossians 3:12-15

Ephesians 4:16 Colossians 2:19

Ephesians 4:22-24 Colossians 3:9-10

Ephesians 4:32 Colossians 3:13

Ephesians 5:6-8 Colossians 3:6-8

Ephesians 5:15-16 Colossians 4:5

Ephesians 5:19 Colossians 3:16

Ephesians 5:22 to Ephesians 6:9 Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1

Ephesians 6:19-20 Colossians 4:3-4

Ephesians 6:22 Colossians 4:8 57]

57] Adam Clarke, Epistle to the Ephesians , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), "Introduction."

It is obvious that Paul wrote both epistles with the same mindset and truths that he wanted to impart to both churches. One phrase that is unique to these two epistles is what Paul calls "the mystery of the Gospel" or the "mystery of Christ." In no other New Testament writings do we find this phrase used in such a manner as Paul uses it in expounding his doctrine in these two epistles.

B. Comparison to John's Apocalypse- John's epistle to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22 contains similar phrases found in Paul's epistle to the Colossians. Paul had instructed the Laodiceans to read the Colossian letter and vise verse.

Colossians 4:16, "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea."

Therefore, John describes Jesus Christ in Revelations in all of His majesty that Paul taught in the epistles of Ephesians and Colossian. For example, Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father (compare Revelation 3:21 to Ephesians 1:20 and Colossians 3:1).

Revelation 3:21, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."

Ephesians 1:20, "Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,"

Colossians 3:1, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."

John refers to Jesus Christ as "the firstborn from the dead" (compare Revelation 1:5 to Colossians 1:18).

Revelation 1:5, "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"

Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

John describes Jesus as "the beginning of the creation of God" (compare Revelation 3:14 to Colossians 1:15).

Revelation 3:14, "And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;"

Colossians 1:15, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"

C. Comparison of Usage of the Old Testament: Absence of Old Testament Quotations- In the epistle to the Colossians there is a complete absence of Old Testament quotations or allusions. This is probably because of its polemic nature in which Paul is attempting to use familiar language with his readers in order to communicate to them their completeness in Christ Jesus. One scholar describes the Colossian epistle as metaphysical and transcendental. This absence of Old Testament references is also certainly an indication that his readers were primarily Gentiles.

D. Comparison of Style: Its Sentence Structure is More Complex- Barry Smith tells us that the epistle of Colossians is characterized with a number of lengthy sentences. For example, Colossians 1:9-20 and Colossians 2:9-15 are each one sentence. He also gives us examples of how Paul combines the use of similar words for emphasis, which finds it roots in Hebrew poetry. Such phrases were probably used in this epistle because Paul had to be confrontational with these heretics as well as be corrective with the believers at Colossi. 58]

58] Barry D. Smith, The Letter to the Colossians , in Religious Studies 2033: The New Testament and its Context (Crandall University, 2009) [on-line]; accessed 22May 2010; available from http://www.abu.nb.ca/courses/NTIntro/Col.htm; Internet.

Colossians 1:11, "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;"

Colossians 1:29, "Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."

Colossians 2:11, "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:"

Colossians 2:19, "And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God."

Paul also frequently uses synonyms together to clearly illustration his thoughts.

Colossians 1:9, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"

Colossians 1:11, "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;"

Colossians 1:22, "In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:"

Colossians 1:23, "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;"

Colossians 1:26, "Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:"

Colossians 2:7, "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."

Colossians 3:8, "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth."

Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

Colossians 4:12, "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

E. Comparison of Style: Polemical in Nature- The epistle of Colossians in purely polemical in its nature, just as the epistle of Galatians. In other words, it is organized as a letter to confront and dispute a known heresy. In contrast, the epistle of Ephesians has no polemic character, but rather contains a large amount of doctrinal material.

VII. Grammar and Syntax

F. Grammar and Syntax: Its Distinctive Vocabulary- The epistle of Colossians lacks the familiar Pauline motifs like "justification by faith" and "salvation" which so characterize many of his epistles. Louis Berkhof tells us that there are thirty-four (34) words in Colossians that are unique to the Pauline writings. Of these thirty-four (34) words, at least half are found in Colossians 1:15-20 and Colossians 2:8-23 when dealing with the universal redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. 59] One phrase that is unique to these two epistles is what Paul calls "the mystery of the Gospel" or the "mystery of Christ." In no other New Testament writings do we find this phrase used in such a manner as Paul uses it in expounding his doctrine in this epistle.

59] Louis Berkhof, The Epistle to the Colossians , in Introduction to the New Testament, electronic edition 2004-04-02 (Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library) [on-line]; accessed 23April 2010; available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/berkhof/newtestament.html; Internet, 113-114.

THEOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK

"Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework."

(Andreas Ksenberger) 60]

60] Andreas J. Ksenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.

Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the epistle of Colossians , an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the epistle of Romans for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.

VIII. Purpose

The fundamental purpose for the nine Church Epistles is doctrinal, for God used Paul to lay down the doctrines for the New Testament Church, as he built upon the foundational teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. In addition to a doctrinal purpose, Paul's epistles give practical instructions on how to apply the teachings of the New Testament Church to the believer's daily conduct.

A. Doctrinal: To Establish them in the Faith Concerning the Preeminence of Christ over the Church ( Colossians 1:12-29) - Paul's primary purpose in writing his epistle to the Colossians was to establish them in the faith concerning the preeminence of Christ Jesus over the Church.

1. Apologetic (Polemic): To Offer a Defense for the Christian Faith- The epistle of Colossians is clearly apologetic in nature. It becomes clear in the second chapter of Colossians that Paul is defending the truths of the Christian faith against false doctrines. He speaks against Greek philosophy ( Colossians 2:1-10) as well as Jewish rituals ( Colossians 2:11-23). We can imagine the Greek mind of this period in history, steeped in mythology and philosophy. They were very superstitious ( Acts 17:22), believing that their gods were part human and part divine, visiting them occasionally, as illustrated when the Lycaonians thought that Paul and Barnabas were gods visiting from heaven ( Acts 14:8-18). The Greeks would have had to understand Jesus Christ differently than that of their mythological gods in that He was fully God and fully man. Song of Solomon , this mindset had crept into the church. In addition, the Judaizers were attempting to tell these new converts that they had to adhere to circumcision and other Jewish rituals in order to live a godly lifestyle. Thus, Paul attacked both of these dangerous doctrines in the second chapter, after declaring in chapter one the preeminence of Christ Jesus over all of creation as well as over the Church.

With this assault of false doctrines Paul was confronting one of the subtlest dangers that any Christian faces. The Colossians were faced with teachings that did not necessarily deny the existence and resurrection of Christ, nor did they attack Paul's apostolic authority; rather, they were being asked to dethrone Christ Jesus as the preeminent One in their daily lives and embrace vain ideals about His person and about His redemptive work on Calvary. Scholars call this the "Colossian Heresy." Today, we label these groups as a "cult" because their doctrines are far out of bounds in regards to getting a person to Heaven. We understand that we can be a part of most any evangelical denomination and go to heaven because we have the common necessary faith of being born again. However, groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, Christian Science, etc. go too far and reduce Christ Jesus to something less than what He really is. Our salvation rests upon our faith in Him as the eternal Son of God who alone is able to redeem us from our sins.

Similar doctrines still creep into our churches today that the Colossians faced during Paul's time, such as humanism and worldly fashions, and they exert a tremendous amount of pressure upon us. It comes subtly from the television, radio and newspapers, from our family and friends and from our work place. But when we learn that Christ is all in all in our lives and not just in Heaven, and when we learn that He is our peace and contentment, our confidence and joy, our wisdom and standard to live by, then we are able to ignore these false teachings that arouse fleshly passions and bring us into the bondages of the world and we find our rest in Him for every need. We must keep Christ Jesus on the throne of our lives and both our Lord and Saviour. At an earlier time, Paul had to correct the churches in Galatia for allowing themselves to become "bewitched" by such false doctrines. He asked them to reason with him that if they began their spiritual journey by faith in Him, how can they continue the journey any other way ( Galatians 3:1-5)? They must continue by faith in Him.

2. To Establish Them in the Faith Regarding the Preeminence of Christ Jesus over the Church- Although Paul's main purpose in writing to the Colossians was to confront certain heresies, he was using this opportunity to teach important doctrinal truths in order to get these believers rooted and grounded in their faith ( Colossians 2:6-7). He wanted to build them up in their faith ( Colossians 2:1-2) so that they would adhere to sound doctrine and grow in the fullness of Christ.

Colossians 2:1-2, "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;"

Colossians 2:6-7, "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."

The doctrinal element does play an important role in the Colossian epistle. The primary emphasis that Paul teaches in his doctrine is the preeminence of Christ Jesus as the fullness of God by whom all things were created and in whom all things will be fulfilled.

Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."

Colossians 2:9, "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."

Conclusion- The doctrinal purpose of the epistle of Colossians reflects the foundational theme of establishing the doctrines of the New Testament Church. The doctrinal teachings of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the Church reflects the secondary theme of the Epistle.

B. Practical: To Guide Believers in Submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ ( Colossians 2:1 to Colossians 4:6) - In addition to a doctrinal purpose, Paul's epistles give practical instructions on how to apply the teachings of the New Testament Church to the believer's daily conduct. Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their affections on the kingdom of Heaven above, and learn to submit to one another, in order to walk as a member of His Body, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how we each fulfill our individual callings as members of His Body.

Conclusion- The practical purpose of the epistle of Colossians reflects the third theme.

IX. Thematic Scheme

Introduction- Each book of the Holy Scriptures contains a three-fold thematic scheme in order to fulfill its intended purpose, which is to transform each child of God into the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The primary, or foundational, theme of a book offers a central claim that undergirds everything written by the author. The secondary, or structural theme, of the book supports its primary theme by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" made by the author as it fully develops the first theme. Thus, the secondary theme is more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary content of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. 61] The third theme is imperative in that it calls the reader to a response based upon the central claim and supporting evidence offered by the author. Each child of God has been predestined to be conformed into the image and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Scriptures, and they alone, have the power to accomplish this task. This is why a child of God can read the Holy Scriptures with a pure heart and experience a daily transformation taking place in his life, although he may not fully understand what is taking place in his life. In addition, the reason some children of God often do not see these biblical themes is because they have not fully yielded their lives to Jesus Christ, allowing transformation to take place by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, a child of God is not willing to allow Him to manage his life and move him down the road that God predestined as his spiritual journey. This journey requires every participant to take up his cross daily and follow Jesus, and not every believer is willing to do this. In fact, every child of God chooses how far down this road of sacrifice he is willing to go. Very few of men and women of God fulfill their divine destinies by completing this difficult journey. In summary, the first theme drives the second theme, which develops the first theme, and together they demand the third theme, which is the reader's response.

61] For an excellent discussion on the use of claims, reasons, and evidence in literature, see Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003).

A. Primary Theme (Foundational) of the Epistle of Colossians - The Establishment of Church Doctrines- Introduction- The central theme of the Holy Bible is God's plan of redemption for mankind. This theme finds its central focus in the Cross, where our Lord and Saviour died to redeem mankind. The central figure of the Holy Scriptures is the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the Cross is the place where man meets God and where we die to our selfish ambitions and yield our lives to the God who created all things. Therefore, the Holy Scriptures are not intended to be a precise record of ancient history. Rather, its intent is to provide a record of God's divine intervention in the history of mankind in order to redeem the world back to Himself through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Calvary.

Every book of the Holy Bible makes a central claim that undergirds the arguments or message contained within its text. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch is found in Deuteronomy 6:4, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD," to which all additional material is subordinate. The bulk of the material in the Old Testament is subordinate in that it serves as reasons and evidence to support this central claim. This material serves as the secondary theme, offering the literary structure of the book. In addition, the central claim calls for a response, which is stated in the following verse, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." ( Deuteronomy 6:5) Such a response is considered the third, imperative theme that runs through every book of the Holy Scriptures.

This central claim is the primary, or foundational, theme and is often obscured by the weight of evidence that is used to drive the central message, which weight of evidence makes up the secondary theme; and thus, it contains more content than the primary theme. Therefore, the secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scripture are generally more recognizable than the primary theme. Nevertheless, the central claim, or truth, must be excavated down to the foundation and made clearly visible in order to understand the central theme driving the arguments contained within the book. Only then can proper exegesis and sermon delivery be executed.

1. The Central Themes of the New Testament Epistles: Sanctification of the Believer- There are twenty-one epistles in the New Testament, which the early Church recognized as having apostolic authority so that they were collected into one body, circulated among the churches, an eventually canonized. While the Gospels emphasize the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ in the process justification of the believer, New Testament epistles emphasize the redemptive plan of the Holy Spirit as He works in the process of sanctification for each believer. Thus, the work of sanctification serves as the underlying theme of all twenty-one epistles. In addition, each one emphasizes a different aspect of this divine process of sanctification and they are organized together so that the New Testament is structured to reflect the part of our spiritual journey called sanctification In order to express this structure, each of these epistles have different themes that are woven and knitted together into a unified body of teachings which will bring the believer through the process of sanctification and ready for the rapture of the Church into a place of rest in the glorious hope revealed in the book of Revelation. Therefore, the New Testament epistles were collected together by topic by the early Church.

Of the twenty-one epistles, there are thirteen Pauline epistles and eight designated as General, or Catholic, epistles. We can organize these twenty-one epistles into three major categories: (1) there are epistles that emphasize Church doctrine, which are the nine Pauline epistles of Romans to 2Thessalonians; (2) there are those that deal with Church order and divine service, which are 1,2Timothy, Titus and Philemon; 62] and (3) there are those that stress perseverance in the Christian faith, which are Hebrews and the seven General Epistles. 63] Within Hebrews and the General Epistles, we note that the first three epistles exhort the believer to persevere under persecutions, which come from without the Church ( Hebrews ,, James , 1Peter), while the other five epistles emphasis perseverance against false doctrines, which come from within ( 2 Peter , 1, 2, 3 John , Jude).

62] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Philemon will be grouped with the Pastoral Epistles as did the Church fathers.

63] For the sake of developing thematic schemes, the epistle of Hebrews will be grouped with the General Epistles, although many of the early Church fathers followed the tradition of grouping it with the Pauline epistles.

2. The Central Theme of the Church Epistles: The Establishment of Church Doctrines - Of the thirteen Pauline epistles, nine are addressed to seven particular churches. By the third century, the early Church fathers testified as to the emphasis that Paul placed upon church doctrine in his epistles. For example, Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D 329 to 389) says that Paul wrote the Church epistles in order that the doctrines of the Church are "beyond question."

"At this point of my discourse I am truly filled with wonder at the wise dispensation of the Holy Spirit; how He confined the Epistles of the rest to a small number, but to Paul the former persecutor gave the privilege of writing fourteen. For it was not because Peter or John was less that He restrained the gift; God forbid! But in order that the doctrine might be beyond question, He granted to the former enemy and persecutor the privilege of writing more, in order that we all might thus be made believers." (Lectures 1018) (NPF 2 7)

Isidore of Pelusium (A.D. d 450) calls Paul "the expounder of the heavenly doctrines." (Epistolarum 17) (PG 78 Colossians 184C). In his preface to his commentaries on the Pauline Epistles, Theodoret of Cyrrus (A.D 393-466) writes, "I know to be sure how I cannot escape the tongue of the fault-finders when attempting to interpret the doctrine of the divine Paul." (author's translation) 64] These nine "Church" epistles establish the doctrines of the New Testament Church. Thus, we may call the first nine Pauline epistles "Church Epistles." In these epistles Paul builds his Church doctrine upon the foundational teachings laid down by Christ Jesus in the Gospels. We acknowledge that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." ( 2 Timothy 3:16) Thus, every book of the Bible will contain doctrine, but these other books do not "add" to Church doctrine; rather, they support the doctrine laid down in the Gospels by Jesus Christ and in these nine Pauline epistles. For example, in the Pastoral Epistles, Paul tells Timothy and Titus to teach sound doctrine ( 1 Timothy 1:10, 2 Timothy 4:3, Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1), a doctrine that is not contained within the Pastoral Epistles themselves. Therefore, Paul must be referring to doctrine that he taught to the churches, and most certainly doctrine that is contained within the Church epistles. Another example can be found in Hebrews 6:1-2, which refers to the six foundational doctrines of the New Testament Church, doctrines that are not contained within the epistle of Hebrews. This epistle, rather, exhorts us to persevere in the divine doctrine that has previously been laid down, and a doctrine that is most certainly contained within the Church epistles.

64] Theodoret, Preface to Interpretation XIV Epistolarum Sancti Pauli Apostoli (PG 82col 36A).

In order to identify this New Testament doctrine, we must first go to the six foundational doctrines mentioned in Hebrews 6:1-2 in order to identify this doctrine. This passage tells us that everything Jesus Christ said and taught in the Gospels can be summed up in the six foundational doctrines of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-2.

Hebrews 6:1-2, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment."

Here we find the six foundational doctrines of the New Testament Church, which were first laid down by Christ in the Gospels.

1. repentance from dead works

2. faith toward God

3. baptisms

4. laying on of hands

5. resurrection of the dead

6. eternal judgment

If one were to go through the four Gospels, he would find that all of Christ's teachings could be placed under one of these six doctrines. Later, the Heavenly Father used Paul to build upon these foundational doctrines through the Pauline epistles in order to establish the Church doctrinally. Before His departure, Jesus Christ told His disciples that He had many things to teach them, but they were not yet ready ( John 16:12).

John 16:12, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."

John 16:12 tells us that the message of the Gospel that Jesus Christ taught His disciples was still incomplete at the time of His departure. This implies that we should look to the Epistles to find its fullness. Therefore, it is upon these six foundational doctrines of Christ that Paul lays down the doctrines of the Church. Paul builds upon the two doctrines of repentance from dead works and faith toward God by teaching on the justification of the believer through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Paul builds upon the two doctrines of baptisms and of the laying on of hands by teaching on the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. Paul builds his eschatology that Jesus began in the Gospels in the two doctrines of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment by teaching on the future glorification of the Church, which falls under the divine foreknowledge and election of God the Father. Thus, the Church epistles can be grouped by the three-fold office and ministry of the Trinity.

B. Secondary Theme (Structural) of the Epistle of Colossians - The Office and Ministry of Jesus Christ (Justification) - The Lordship of Jesus Christ over the Church - Introduction- The secondary themes of the books of the Holy Scriptures support the primary themes by offering reasons and evidence for the central "claim" of the book made by the author. Thus, the secondary themes are more easily recognized by biblical scholars than the other two themes because they provide the literary structure of the book as they navigate the reader through the arguments embedded within the biblical text, thus revealing themselves more clearly. For example, the central claim of the Pentateuch declares that the Lord God of Israel is the only God that man should serve, and man is to love the Lord God with all of his heart, mind, and strength, a statement found in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4-5, which is the foundational theme of the Old Testament. The books of Hebrew poetry provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his heart as its secondary theme. The books of the prophets provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his mind as its secondary theme, as he set his hope in the coming of the Messiah to redeem mankind. The historical books provide evidence to this claim by expounding upon how man is to love God with all of his strength as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the four Gospel writers is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. In addition, each Gospel writer offers evidence as its secondary theme to support his claim. The Gospel of John offers the five-fold testimony of God the Father, John the Baptist, the miracles of Jesus, the Old Testament Scriptures, and the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself as its secondary theme. Matthew expounds upon the testimony of the Old Testament Scriptures as its secondary theme; Mark expounds upon the testimony of the miracles of Jesus as its secondary theme; Luke expounds upon the testimony of John the Baptist and other eye-witnesses and well as that of the apostles in the book of Acts as its secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pauline Church Epistles is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone how the power to redeem and transform man into the image of Jesus, which is the foundational theme of this division of the Holy Scriptures. The epistle of Romans supports this claim by offering evidence of mankind's depravity and God's plan of redemption to redeem him as its secondary theme. The epistles of Ephesians and Philippians expound upon the role of God the Father in His divine foreknowledge as their secondary theme; the epistles of Colossians and Galatians expound upon the role of Jesus Christ as the head of the Church as their secondary theme; the epistles of 1, 2 Thessalonians , 1, 2Corinthians expound upon the role of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying the believers as their secondary theme.

The central claim of the Pastoral Epistles is that believers must serve God through the order of the New Testament Church. The epistles of 1, 2Timothy expound upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Titus expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a renewed mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Philemon expounds upon how to serve the Lord within the Church with a genuine lifestyle, which is its secondary theme.

The central claim of the General Epistles is that believers must persevere in the Christian faith in order to obtain eternal redemption. The epistles of Hebrews ,, James , and 1Peter modify this theme to reflect perseverance from persecutions from without the Church. The epistle of Hebrews expounds upon the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of James expounds upon a lifestyle of perseverance through the joy of the Holy Spirit, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of 1Peter expounds upon our hope of divine election through God the Father, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 2Peter, 1, 2, 3, John and Jude reflect perseverance from false doctrines from within. The epistle of 2Peter expounds upon growing in the knowledge of God's Word with a sound mind, which is its secondary theme. The epistles of 1, 2, 3John expound upon walking in fellowship with God and one another with a pure heart, which is its secondary theme. The epistle of Jude expounds how living a godly lifestyle with our bodies, which is its secondary theme.

The Apocalypse of John , though not considered an epistle, emphasizes the glorification of the Church, giving believers a vision of the hope that is laid up before them as a source of encouragement for those who persevere until the end. The central claim of the book of Revelation is that Jesus Christ is coming to take His Bride the Church to Glory. The secondary theme supports this claim with the evidence of Great Tribulation Period.

1. The Secondary Theme of the Church Epistles- Within the nine Pauline "Church" epistles there are three epistles that serve as witnesses of the doctrine of justification through Jesus Christ ( Romans ,, Galatians , Colossians); three serve as witnesses of the doctrine of sanctification by the Holy Spirit ( Romans , 1,2Thessalonians, 1,2Corinthians); and three testify of the doctrine of glorification by God the Father ( Romans ,, Ephesians , Philippians). Note that the secondary epistles of Thessalonians and Corinthians can be considered as one witness because they share the same theme with their primary epistles. Noting that the epistle of Romans reflects all three aspects of Church doctrine in his exposition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the early Church fathers recognized the doctrinal preeminence of the epistle of Romans. For example, Theodoret of Cyrrus writes, "The epistle to the Romans has been placed first, as containing the most full and exact representation of the Christian doctrine, in all its branches; but some say, that it has been so placed out of respect to the city to which it was sent, as presiding over the whole world." (PG 82col 44B) 65] In the same way that the Gospel of John serves as the foundational book of the Gospels as well as the entire New Testament, the epistle of Romans serves as the foundational epistle of the Church epistles because it carries all three themes that the other eight epistles will build upon.

65] See Nathaniel Lardner, The Works of Nathaniel Lardner, vol 5 (London: Joseph Ogle Robinson, 1829), 17.

As mentioned above, Paul's church doctrine builds upon the six-fold doctrine of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-2. This means that all of the Pauline church doctrine can be grouped within one of these six foundational doctrines of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. This is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 and Ephesians 2:20 when he said that he was laying the foundation of Church doctrine in which Jesus Christ Himself was the foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

Also,

Ephesians 2:20, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"

Thus, Paul's doctrine can be placed into three groups of doctrine: (1) the foreknowledge, calling and glorification of God the Father, (2) the justification by Jesus Christ His Song of Solomon , and (3) the sanctification of the Holy Spirit ( Romans 8:29). In fact, the six foundational doctrines of Hebrews 6:1-2 can also be placed under the same three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit by placing two doctrines under each one. Therefore, we will find that the themes of each of the Pauline "Church" epistles finds itself grouped under Paul's three-fold grouping of justification, sanctification and glorification, and this three-fold grouping is laid upon the six-fold foundation of:

1. Repentance from dead works Justification Jesus Christ

2. Faith toward God Justification Jesus Christ

3. The doctrine of baptisms Sanctification Holy Spirit

4. Laying on of hands Sanctification Holy Spirit

5. Resurrection of the dead Glorification God the Father

6. Eternal judgment Glorification God the Father

The doctrine of faith towards God builds upon the doctrine of repentance from dead works, which is the doctrine of Justification; for we must first repent of our sins in order to receive Christ's sacrificial death for us. The doctrine of the laying on of hands builds upon the doctrine of baptisms, which is the doctrine of Sanctification. After partaking of the three baptisms (baptism into the body of Christ, water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit), we move into our calling and anointing through the laying on of hands. The doctrine of eternal judgment builds upon the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, which is the doctrine of Glorification. These are the three parts of our redemption that are addressed by the six foundational doctrines that Jesus Christ laid down in the Gospels and Acts. Thus, Paul builds upon these three foundational doctrines of Christ within his nine "Church" epistles.

The epistle of Romans plays a key role in the Church Epistles in that it lays a foundation of doctrines upon which the other eight Epistles build their themes. A mediaeval proverb once said, "All roads lead to Rome." 66] This means that anywhere in the ancient Roman Empire, when someone embarked on the Roman road system, if one traveled it long enough, it would lead him to the city of Rome. In a similar way, as all roads lead to Rome, so do all of Paul's Church Epistles proceed from the book of Romans. In other words, the themes of the other eight Church Epistles build upon the theme of Romans. Thus, the epistle of Romans serves as a roadmap that guides us through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ and into the process of sanctification wrought by the Holy Spirit and finally into the Father's eternal plan in the lives of mankind through His foreknowledge and divine election, which themes are further developed in the other eight Church Epistles. However, the epistle of Romans is presented largely from the perspective of God the Father divinely orchestrating His plan of redemption for all mankind while the other eight epistles place emphasis upon the particular roles of one of the God-head: the Father, Jesus Christ, or the Holy Spirit. The systematic teachings laid forth in the book of Romans serves as a foundation upon which the other eight epistles to New Testament churches are built. For example, the letter to the Ephesians places emphasis upon the Father's divine election and equipping of the Church in order to fulfill the purpose and plan of God the Father upon this earth. Philippians emphasizes partnership as we give ourselves to God the Father in order to accomplish His will on this earth. The epistle to Colossians emphasizes the preeminence of Christ Jesus over the Church. Galatians emphasizes the theme of our deliverance and justification by faith in Jesus Christ alone. The theme of 1,2Thessalonians emphasizes the sanctification of the whole Prayer of Manasseh , spirit, soul, and body in preparing us for Christ's Second Coming 1,2Corinthians take us to the Cross and shows us the life of sanctification as we live in unity with one another so that the gifts of the Spirit can manifest through the body of Christ, which serves to edify the believers. Paul deals with each of these themes systematically in the epistle to the Romans. Thus, these other eight Church epistles emphasize and expand upon individual themes found in the book of Romans , all of which are built upon the three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For this reason, Romans serves as a foundation of the doctrine of Christ Jesus upon which all other New Testament epistles are built.

66] The Milliarium Aureum was a monument erected in the central forum the ancient city of Rome by Emperor Caesar Augustus. All of the roads built by the Romans were believed to begin at this point and transgress throughout the Empire. The road system of the Roman Empire was extraordinary, extending east to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and west to the British Isles, and north into central Europe and south into northern Africa. See Christian Hlsen, The Roman Forum: Its History and Its Monuments, trans. Jesse Benedict Carter (New York: G. E. Stechert & Co, 1906), 79; Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds. The Apostolic Fathers With Justin Martyr and Ireneaus, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to A.D 325, vol 1 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913), 1.

a) The Doctrine of the Office and Ministry of God the Father- The epistle of Ephesians is built upon the theme of God the Father's office and ministry of orchestrating a divine plan of redemption for mankind. While Romans takes a broad view of the Father's redemptive plan for all of mankind, Ephesians focuses entirely upon the role of the Church in this great plan. And in order for the believer to partake of this divine plan, the Father provides His spiritual blessings in heavenly places ( Ephesians 1:3) so that we, the Church, might accomplish His divine purpose and plan on earth. Man's role is to walk worthy of this calling ( Ephesians 4:1) and to fight the spiritual warfare through the Word of God ( Ephesians 6:10-13). The epistle of Philippians, which also emphasizes the work of God the Father, reveals how the believer is to serve God the Father so that He can fulfill His divine purpose and plan on earth. In this epistle the believer is to partner and give to support God's servants who are accomplishing God's purposes ( Philippians 1:5) and in turn, God will provide all of his needs ( Philippians 4:19). While Ephesians places emphasize upon the Father's role in the Church's glorification, Philippians emphasized the believer's role in fulfilling the Father's divine plan of redemption. Ephesians reveals how it looks in Heaven as the Father works redemption for the Church, and Philippians reveals how the Church looks when it is fulfilling the Father's redemptive plan. Reading Ephesians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Father's role in redemption, while reading Philippians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Father's role in redemption. Thus, the epistle of Philippians is a mirror image of Ephesians.

b) Jesus Christ the Song of Solomon - The epistle of Colossians reveals the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the Church and His preeminence over all Creation. Man's role is to fulfill God's will through the indwelling of Christ in him ( Colossians 1:9; Colossians 4:12). The epistle of Galatians, which also emphasizes the work of Jesus the Son in our redemption, teaches us how Jesus Christ has delivered us from the bondages of this world ( Galatians 1:4). Man's role is to walk as a new creature in Christ in order to partake of his liberties in Christ ( Galatians 6:15). While the epistle of Colossians emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ our Lord in our justification, Galatians emphasizes our role in having faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Colossians reveals how it looks in Heaven as Jesus the Son works redemption, while Galatians reveals how the Church looks when it is walking in the Lordship of Jesus Christ and giving Him preeminence in our daily lives. Reading Colossians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Son's role in redemption, while reading Galatians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Son's role in redemption. Thus, the epistle of Galatians is a mirror image of Colossians.

c) God the Holy Spirit - The epistles of 1,2Thessalonians teach us the office of the Holy Spirit, which is to sanctify the believer in spirit, soul and body ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23) in order to prepare him for the Second Coming of Christ Jesus ( 2 Thessalonians 1:10). The epistles of 1,2Corinthians, which also emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in our redemption, reveals how the believer is to live a crucified life of walking in love and unity with fellow believers ( 1 Corinthians 16:13-16) in order to allow the gifts of the Spirit to work in and thru him as he awaits the Second Coming of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:7). While the epistles to the Thessalonians emphasize the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification, the epistles to the Corinthians emphasize our role in this process 1,2Thessalonians reveal how it looks in Heaven as the Holy Spirit works redemption, while 1,2Corinthians show us how the Church looks when it is going through the difficult process of sanctification through the work of the Holy Spirit. Reading 1,2Thessalonians is like sitting in Heaven while looking down upon earth and getting a divine perspective of the Holy Spirit's role in redemption, while reading 1,2Corinthians is like sitting on the front row of a local church watching men work through the Holy Spirit's role in redemption. Thus, the epistles of Corinthians are a mirror image of the epistles of Thessalonians.

Finally, the epistle of Romans deals briefly with all three doctrines in systematic order as Paul the apostle expounds upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ ( Romans 1:16-17) in order to establish the saints in the Christian faith ( Romans 16:25-27).

d) Illustration of Emphasis of Two Roles in the Pauline Epistles - We find a discussion of the important of the two-fold aspect of the writer and the reader in Booth-Colomb-Williams' book The Craft of Research. 67] These three professors explain that when a person writes a research paper he must establish a relationship with the intended reader. He does this by creating a role for himself as the writer and a role for the reader to play. This is because conversation is not one-sided. Rather, conversation, and a written report, involved two parties, the reader as well as the writer. Thus, we see how God has designed the Pauline epistles to emphasize the role the writer, by which we mean divine inspiration, and the reader, who plays the role of a believer endeavoring to become indoctrinated with God's Word.

67] Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003), 17-25.

Perhaps a good illustration of this two-fold aspect of the Trinity's role and perspective of redemption being emphasized in Ephesians , Colossian and 1,2Thessalonians and man's role and perspective being emphasized in Philippians ,, Galatians 1,2Corinthians is found in a dream that the Lord gave to me in the mid-1990's. I was serving in my church Calvary Cathedral International in the ministry of helps as an altar worker. This meant that during each altar call we were to follow those who responded to the altar call back into a prayer room and pray with them. One Sunday morning the Lord gave me a dream in which I found myself in my local church during an altar call. As people responded and began to step out into the aisle and walk forward I saw them immediately transformed into children of light. In other words, I saw this transformation taking place in the spiritual realm, though in the natural we see nothing but a person making his way down the aisle. However, I saw these people transformed from sinners into saints in their spirits. I later made my way to church that morning, keenly aware of my impressionable dream a few hours ago. During church the altar call was made, people responded and I followed them into the prayer room along with the associate pastor and other altar workers. Suddenly, the associate pastor, Tom Leuther, who was over the altar work, received an emergency call and had to leave the prayer room. He looked at me and quickly asked me to lead this brief meeting by speaking to those who had responded and turn them over to prayer ministers. As I stood up and began to speak to these people I remembered my dream and was very aware of the incredible transformation that each one of them had made. Thus, Ephesians , Colossian and 1,2Thessalonians discussion redemptive doctrine from a spiritual perspective while Philippians ,, Galatians , 1,2Corinthians discuss doctrine from a natural, practical perspective, which we see being worked out in the daily lives of believers. In the natural we see a dirty sinner weeping before the altar, but with our spiritual eyes we see a pure and holy saint clothed in white robes.

2. The Secondary Theme of the Epistle of Colossians - In identifying the secondary theme of the New Testament epistles, we must keep in mind that most of Paul's epistles are built on a format of presenting a central theme, or argument, that runs throughout the entire epistle. This central theme is usually found within the first few verses of each epistle, and often in the closing verses. The first part of the Pauline epistles gives the doctrinal basis for this argument, and the last part gives the practical side of living by this doctrine. So it is with the epistle to the Galatians. Paul builds a general argument by developing a number of specific arguments. A reader must not lose sight of this general argument or central theme, as he interprets the specific arguments; for the major argument undergirds the minor ones.

The secondary, or structural, themes of each the New Testament epistles can be found in the open verses or passages of each book. This is certainly the case with the epistle to the Colossians. Under the foundational theme of the doctrine of justification through Jesus Christ, secondary theme of Colossians emphasizes the role of Jesus Christ in man's justification. The first chapter of Colossians teaches us how Jesus Christ has delivered us from the powers of darkness and into the kingdom of God ( Colossians 1:13), and how Christ now indwells us as a guarantee of our membership ( Colossians 1:27). The other three chapters of Colossians teach us how to seek those things above ( Colossians 3:1-2) so that we can walk in the wisdom and revelation of the knowledge of Christ, as He is given the preeminence in our lives ( Colossians 2:2-3).

We can easily recognize that the contents in Ephesians and Colossians are similar. We know that Paul wrote these two prison epistles at approximately the same time. But each has a distinct theme. The epistle to the Ephesians places emphasis upon the office of God the Father in His redemptive plan for man. But the epistle to the Colossians emphasizes the office of Jesus Christ in God's redemptive plan for man. We can see the offices and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ explained in the opening chapter of Colossians while Ephesians places immediate emphasis upon the divine election and calling of God the Father.

In Colossians , Jesus Christ is presented as Lord and Head of the Church. Paul gives us a summary of His role as the Apostle sent from Heaven to shed His blood on the Cross in order to deliver us from the dominion of darkness ( Colossians 1:13-14). Paul then explains that prior to His role as the seed of Abraham, Jesus was preeminent in creation as the Word of God by which and for which all things were created ( Colossians 1:15-17). These verses also reveal Jesus as the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature. He is presently our High Priest, bringing us into God's presence as the head of the Church ( Colossians 1:18-22). All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Him ( Colossians 2:3). In Him dwells all of the fullness of the Godhead in bodily form ( Colossians 2:9). Thus, we are complete in Him ( Colossians 2:10), and He is the head of all principalities and powers ( Colossians 2:10). We are identified with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection and our sins have been blotted out ( Colossians 2:12-15). Thru His work at Calvary, He triumphed over principalities and powers and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it ( Colossians 2:15). We are now risen with Him and seated with Him at the right hand of the Father ( Colossians 3:1). Our true life is now hid in Christ, but shall be made manifest at His appearing ( Colossians 3:3-4).

We can see the theme of Colossians within Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-12. Paul prays for us to come to the knowledge of the riches that have been given to us in Christ Jesus ( Colossians 1:9) so that we will be able to walk in the fullness of that knowledge ( Colossians 1:10) by being strengthened with His glorious power ( Colossians 1:11), and thus be able to partake of our inheritance which is reserved only for those saints who are walking in the light of this knowledge and understanding ( Colossians 1:12). Thus, Paul is revealing the riches of our inheritance in Christ Jesus so that the saints can walk in this understanding and revelation.

Because such emphasis is placed upon the office of Jesus Christ as Head of the Church, we find Paul describing the offices of God the Father and the Holy Spirit only in reference to the work of Jesus Christ. For example, our eternal hope is spoken of as being in the Gospel of Jesus Christ ( Colossians 1:5; Colossians 1:23) rather than our hope of His divine calling proceeding from our heavenly Father, as is emphasized in Ephesians ( Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 4:4). Paul's references to God indwelling us speak of Christ in us, rather than a direct reference to the indwelling of the person of Holy Spirit ( Colossians 1:27). The fact that the Holy Spirit is mentioned only one time in Colossians ( Colossians 1:8) is due to its emphasis upon the ministry and work of Christ. But it also may be due to the fact that they were too engrossed into beliefs in "spirit" and angels and needed to refocus on Christ.

C. Third Theme (Imperative) of the Epistle of Colossians - The Crucified Life of the Believer (Allowing Christ to Have Preeminence in our Daily Lifestyle) - Introduction- The third theme of each book of the New Testament is a call by the author for the reader to apply the central truth, or claim, laid down in the book to the Christian life. It is a call to a lifestyle of crucifying the flesh and taking up one's Cross daily to follow Jesus. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29), and every child of God faces challenges as well as failures in the pursuit of his Christian journey. For example, the imperative theme of the Old Testament is that God's children are to serve the Lord God with all of their heart, mind, and strength, and love their neighbour as themselves ( Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

The child of God cannot fulfill his divine destiny of being conformed into the image of Jesus without yielding himself and following the plan of redemption that God avails to every human being. This 4-fold, redemptive path is described in Romans 8:29-30 as predestination, calling, justification, and glorification. The phase of justification can be further divided into regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance. Although each individual will follow a unique spiritual journey in life, the path is the same in principle for every believer since it follows the same divine pattern described above. This allows us to superimpose one of three thematic schemes upon each book of the Holy Scriptures in order to vividly see its imperative theme. Every book follows a literary structure that allows either (1) the three-fold scheme of Father, Song of Solomon , and Holy Spirit: or (2) the scheme of spirit, soul, and body of man; or (3) the scheme of predestination, calling, justification (regeneration, indoctrination, divine service, and perseverance), and glorification in some manner.

1. The Third Imperative Theme of the Church Epistles- Thus, the nine Church Epistles emphasis the office and ministry of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit. Each of these epistles also reveals a central truth about our Christian life, or a secret truth, or a divine guiding principle, by which we can walk victorious in this life.

a) God the Father. According to Ephesians, the way that God the Father fulfills His divine plan through the Church is by our submission to one another ( Ephesians 4:1-2; Ephesians 5:21) and praying in the Spirit ( Ephesians 6:18); thus, the enemy of our divine destiny is putting on the old man and walking like the Gentiles in their futile minds ( Ephesians 4:17). Philippians expands upon this central truth by explaining the secret to God supplying all of our needs when we take care of God's servants first ( Philippians 2:20); thus, the enemy to having our needs met is selfishness ( Philippians 2:21).

b) Jesus the Son. According to Colossians the secret of walking in the fullness and riches and completeness of Christ is by setting our minds on things above ( Colossians 3:1-2); thus, the enemy of a full life in Christ is minding these earthly doctrines ( Colossians 2:20-23). Galatians expands upon this central truth by telling us the secret to walking in liberty from the bondages of this world is by being led by the Spirit ( Galatians 5:16); thus, the enemy of our freedom is walking in the flesh, which brings us back into bondage ( Galatians 5:17).

c) God the Holy Spirit. 1Thessalonians reveals to us that the way we are motivated and encouraged to go through the process of sanctification is by looking for and waiting expectantly for the Second Coming of Christ; thus, the enemy of our sanctification is being ignorant of His Second Coming and pending judgment. 1Corinthians expands upon this central truth of sanctification by telling us that the secret to walking in the gifts of the Spirit is by walking in unity within the body of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:10); thus, the enemy of walking in the gifts is strife and division ( 1 Corinthians 1:11).

d) Summary- All three of these doctrines (justification, sanctification and glorification) reveal the process that God is taking every believer through in order to bring him from spiritual death and separation from God into His eternal presence, which process we call divine election. God's will for every human being is justification through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on Calvary as He serves as our Great High Priest at the right hand of the Father, into sanctification by the Holy Spirit and into divine service through the laying on of hands, until we obtain glorification and immortality by the resurrection from the dead and are judged before the throne of God. If God be for us, who can be against us? Thus, the nine Church Epistles emphasis the office and ministry of God the Father, God the Son Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit.

2. The Third Imperative Theme of the Epistle of Colossians - The third theme of each of Paul's church epistles is an emphasis on how to apply the doctrinal truths laid down in the epistle to the Christian life. It is a life of crucifying the flesh and taking up our Cross daily to follow Him. In Colossians , our crucified lifestyle is manifested as we allow Christ to have preeminence in our daily lifestyle. We are to establish ourselves in the faith, set our affections on the kingdom of Heaven above, and learn to submit to one another, in order to walk as a member of His Body, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is how we each fulfill our individual callings as members of His Body.

Finally, Paul will further elaborate upon this aspect of our crucified lifestyle in his epistle to Philemon , which is an example that took place at this time in how to allow Christ to have preeminence in our daily lifestyle. Every child of God has been predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ ( Romans 8:29). The epistle of Colossians emphasizes one aspect of this conformity through the crucified life of faith and obedience in Him.

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Figure 1 - The Themes of the Pauline Church Epistles

X. Literary Structure

The literary structure of the epistle of Colossians must follow the thematic scheme of the book. It is important to note that such a breakdown of this book of the Holy Bible was not necessarily intended by the original author, but it is being used as a means of making the interpretation easier. It is hoped that this summary and outline can identify the underlying themes of the book, as well as the themes of its major divisions, sections and subsections. Then individual verses can more easily be understood in light of the emphasis of the immediate passages in which they are found.

I. The Salutation ( Colossians 1:1-2) - This passage of Scripture is called the salutation and is found in all thirteen of Paul's New Testament epistles and is used as an introduction to his letters. Paul wrote his salutations as a signature of authenticity ( 2 Thessalonians 3:17) just like we place our signature today at the end of a document. He may have written entire epistles as indicated in Philemon 1:19. However, there are indications in six of his epistles that Paul used an amanuensis to write most of his letters (see Romans 16:22, 1 Corinthians 16:21, Galatians 6:11, Colossians 4:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:17, Philemon 1:19).

2 Thessalonians 3:17, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write."

In Colossians 1:1-2 Paul gives his opening salutation to the believers in Colossi.

II. Introduction: The Preeminence of Christ Over the Colossians ( Colossians 1:3-11) - In Colossians 1:3-11 Paul places emphasis upon the preeminence of Christ over the church at Colossi. After greeting the church at Colossi ( Colossians 1:1-2), Paul opens with a word of thanksgiving by recognizing their faith and love in Christ and giving praise to God ( Colossians 1:3-8). He then prays for these believers to come to the full knowledge of the revelation of the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives ( Colossians 1:9-11). We can see the theme of Colossians within Paul's prayer in this passage of Scripture. Paul prays for them to come to the knowledge of the riches that have been given to us in Christ Jesus ( Colossians 1:9) so that we will be able to walk in the fullness of that knowledge ( Colossians 1:10) by being strengthened with His glorious power ( Colossians 1:11). In the book of Colossians , Paul reveals the riches of our inheritance in Christ Jesus so that the saints can walk in this understanding and revelation. He calls them "saints in light" who are walking in this revelation ( Colossians 1:12) and it is only the saints who are walking in the light of this knowledge and understanding that able to partake of the inheritance that is reserved for them ( Colossians 1:12).

We cannot walk worthy of God, nor please Him nor be fruitful ( Colossians 1:10) unless we first know His will for our lives. This comes by first knowing His Word, which produces wisdom in our minds and also by spiritual Revelation , which is a work of the Holy Spirit making His Word personal in our daily walk ( Colossians 1:9). As we study God's Word and come to know His "logos" Word, and as we learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit giving us divine revelations as "rhema" words, we are then able to pursue God's plan in our lives. As we learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit and to stay filled with the Spirit ( Colossians 1:11), we become men of God, filled with faith in His Word and filled with the anointing of the Holy Ghost, as were Stephen and Barnabas in the book of Acts. It is for this reason these two men were very fruitful in the work of the Lord.

A. Paul's Recognition of Their Faith and Love in Christ ( Colossians 1:3-8) - After greeting the church at Colossi ( Colossians 1:1-2), Paul opens with a word of thanksgiving by recognizing their faith and love in Christ and giving praise to God ( Colossians 1:3-8).

B. Paul's Prayer for Understanding Christ's Preeminence ( Colossians 1:9-11) - Paul begins many of his epistles with a prayer, a feature typical of ancient Greco-Roman epistles as well, 68] with each prayer reflecting the respective themes of these epistles. For example, Paul's prayer of thanksgiving to the church at Rome ( Romans 1:8-12) reflects the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in redeeming mankind. Paul's prayer of thanks for the Corinthians ( 1 Corinthians 1:4-8) reflects the theme of the sanctification of believers so that the gifts of the Spirit can operate through them as mature believers walking in love. Paul's prayer to the Corinthians of blessing to God for comforting them in their tribulations ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7) reflects the theme of higher level of sanctification so that believers will bear the sufferings of Christ and partake of His consolation. Paul's prayer to the Ephesians ( Ephesians 1:15-22) reflects the theme of the believer's participation in God the Father's great plan of redemption, as they come to the revelation this divine plan in their lives. Paul's prayer to the Philippians ( Philippians 1:3-11) reflects the theme of the believer's role of participating with those whom God the Father has called to minister redemption for mankind. Paul's prayer to the Colossians ( Colossians 1:9-16) reflects the theme of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the life of every believer, as they walk worthy of Him in pleasing Him. Paul's prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians ( 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4) reflects the theme of the role of the Holy Spirit in our complete sanctification, spirit, soul, and body. Paul's second prayer of thanksgiving to the Thessalonians ( 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4) reflects the theme of maturity in the believer's sanctification.

68] John Grassmick says many ancient Greek and Roman epistles open with a "health wish" and a prayer to their god in behalf of the recipient. See John D. Grassmick, "Epistolary Genre," in Interpreting the New Testament Text, eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006), 232.

We can see the theme of Colossians within Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-12. Paul prays for them to come to the knowledge of the riches that have been given to us in Christ Jesus ( Colossians 1:9) so that we will be able to walk in the fullness of that knowledge ( Colossians 1:10) by being strengthened with His glorious power ( Colossians 1:11), and thus be able to partake of our inheritance which is reserved only for those saints who are walking in the light of this knowledge and understanding ( Colossians 1:12). We cannot serve the Lord and please Him with a lifestyle of carnal reasoning. We must have spiritual insight and discernment from the Holy Spirit, which Paul calls "all spiritual wisdom and understanding." In the book of Colossians Paul reveals the riches of our inheritance in Christ Jesus so that the saints can walk in this understanding and revelation. He calls them "saints in light" who are walking in this revelation ( Colossians 1:12). Thus, the phrase "all spiritual wisdom and understanding" also describes a person who is walking with a renewed mind and understanding the way of God and how to be led by the Spirit. He is one who has the Spirit of God operating in his life and revealing God's divine will to him on a continual basis. This is how we are "filled with the knowledge of His will" ( Colossians 1:9). This results in a life that pleases God and bears spiritual fruit in the Kingdom of God.

We cannot walk worthy of God, nor please Him nor be fruitful ( Colossians 1:10) unless we first know His will for our lives. This comes by first knowing His Word, which produces wisdom in our minds and also by spiritual Revelation , which is a work of the Holy Spirit making His Word personal in our daily walk ( Colossians 1:9). As we study God's Word and come to know His "logos" Word and as we learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit giving us divine revelations as "rhema" words, we are then able to pursue God's plan in our lives. As we learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit and to stay filled with the Spirit ( Colossians 1:11), we become men of God, filled with faith in His Word and filled with the anointing of the Holy Ghost, as were Stephen and Barnabas in the book of Acts. These two men were very fruitful in the work of the Lord.

III. Doctrinal Application: The Preeminence of Christ in Christian Doctrine ( Colossians 1:12-29) - The doctrinal application in Colossians can be divided into the office and ministry of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. The epistle of Colossians explains their role of redemption in light of Christ Jesus as Head of the Church.

We now need to know how we can partake of this glorious inheritance as saints in light ( Colossians 1:12). This is explained in Colossians 1:12-29 as Paul launches into a description of the role of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in bringing about the preeminence of Christ Jesus over all of Creation and over the Church in order to reconcile all of creation back to the Father. Paul first reveals the Father's role in redemption, then the role of the Song of Solomon , followed by the role of the Holy Spirit.

A. The Role of the Father in Christ's Preeminence ( Colossians 1:12-18) - Colossians 1:12-18 explains the purpose of the redemptive work of Christ over His Creation, which is to reconcile all things to Himself. God the Father plans to first redeemed mankind back to Himself ( Colossians 1:13-14). This will be followed by the redemption of all Creation ( Colossians 1:15-17). Then, all of God's creation will be brought back into the perfect harmony and unity that it was created for ( Colossians 1:18-22). This is the inheritance that we are to partake of as saints "in light". We see this sequence of events stated in Romans 8:19-21 where Paul notes that creation is eagerly awaiting the manifestation of the sons of God. For at that time, God will recreate a new heaven and a new earth and we will together enter into eternity.

Romans 8:19-21, "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."

B. The Role of Jesus Christ in His Own Preeminence ( Colossians 1:19-23) - Paul then reveals the role of Jesus Christ in redeeming all things back to the Father. We read Colossians 1:19-23 that He made peace through the blood of the Cross and reconciled all things in Heaven and on Earth so that He might present the Church holy and unblameable and unreproveable to the Father.

C. The Role of the Holy Spirit in Christ's Preeminence ( Colossians 1:24-29) - In Colossians 1:24-29 Paul explains the role of the Holy Spirit in Christ's preeminence over the Church. Paul says that his personal ministry is to fulfill the sufferings of Christ in order to reveal to the Church the mystery hidden from the ages, which is Christ in us, our glorious hope. So the role of the Holy Spirit is to indwell each believer so that they will be made perfect in Christ Jesus and to empower those believers to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, the key phrase in this passage, "Christ in you, the hope of glory," is a reference to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Because the theme of the epistle to the Colossians is the lordship of Jesus Christ, Paul phrases this in reference to the indwelling of Jesus Christ rather than of the Holy Spirit.

IV. Practical Application- Kenneth Hagin and other great Bible teaches tell us that we are created as a three-fold person. 69] We are transformed through a process of renewing our minds, transforming our hearts and then directing our bodies into a godly lifestyle. Thus, Paul follows this order in his teaching to the Colossians so that Christ Jesus might be preeminent in their daily lives. Chapters two through four of Colossians teach us how to apply the doctrinal truths laid out in the first chapter to our personal lives.

69] Kenneth Hagin, Man on Three Dimensions (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1973, 1985); and Kenneth Hagin, The Human Spirit (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1985).

A. His Preeminence in our Thinking: Mental Transformation ( Colossians 2:1-23) - Paul first deals with the renewing of our minds. He exhorts the Colossians to hold fast to their faith in Christ Jesus and to grow in their knowledge of Him lest they be overcome with false doctrines ( Colossians 2:1-7). He then warns them of such false doctrines by restating Christ's preeminence in contrast to human philosophy ( Colossians 2:8-15) and by exposing the heresy he was combating by referring to the practices that these heretics were imposing upon the church at Colossi ( Colossians 2:16-23). Having confronted the doctrine and philosophy of these heretics ( Colossians 2:8-15), Paul now exposes their futile practices ( Colossians 2:16-23). When a cult presents it doctrine, it can sound pretty convincing to a person who is not rooted and grounded in the Word of God. But such cults need further examination by examining how the put their beliefs into practice. Thus, Paul now confronts some of the vain practices and rituals of these heretics.

1. Paul's Exhortation to Steadfastness in Christ ( Colossians 2:1-7) - In Colossians 2:1-7 Paul exhorts the Colossians to hold fast to their faith in Christ Jesus and to grow in their knowledge of Him lest they be overcome with false doctrines.

2. Christ verses Philosophy: False Doctrine Confronted ( Colossians 2:8-15) - In Colossians 2:8-15 Paul then warns them of such false doctrines by restating Christ's preeminence in contrast to human philosophy.

3. Heresies Exposed: Their Practice Confronted ( Colossians 2:16-23) - Having confronted the doctrine and philosophy of these heretics ( Colossians 2:8-15), Paul now exposes their futile practices ( Colossians 2:16-23). When a cult presents it doctrine, it can sound very convincing to a person who is not rooted and grounded in the Word of God. Such cults need further inspection by examining how the put their beliefs into practice. Thus, Paul now confronts some of the vain practices and rituals of these heretics.

B. His Preeminence in our Affections: Spiritual Transformation ( Colossians 3:1-17) - Paul has taught doctrine in chapter one and shown the Colossians how to renew their minds when confronted with false teachings in chapter two. In the last two chapters, Paul continues to follow a progression of thought. Paul then teaches the Colossians how to hold Christ preeminent in the affections of our hearts. Paul first summarizes our new life in Christ ( Colossians 3:1-4) by telling the church to "seek" those things above ( Colossians 3:1) instead of things of the world. The NIV says, "Set your heart on things above". Therefore, the central idea of this passage is to have a heart that desires the things of God. Paul then proceeds to give them guidance and instructions in order to accomplish this goal. Paul knew that a person receives knowledge by what he sees and hears. This knowledge enters the heart. It is there that the man or woman chooses what to believe and it is there that a person is able to control what his heart desires. A person then begins to make decisions based upon what he believes and these decisions determine his actions, or the path or lifestyle that he lives. Thus, Paul knows that it is possible for every believer to develop wholesome desires if he will follow these procedures. He understood that a person's desires and affections could be directed by his will. We can choose where to place our interests in this life.

Therefore, in order to have a pure heart, Paul tells the believers to first bring their thoughts into obedience with the things of God ( Colossians 3:2). This means that they are to guard what enters their ears and eyes. He then tells them their identity with Christ and their destiny of glory ( Colossians 3:3-4). This is what they are to hear and believe and then live their lives according to these truths. In light of this divine truth ( Colossians 3:1-4), they are to stop living like the world lives, in the passions of their lusts ( Colossians 3:5-7). Paul calls this putting off the old man ( Colossians 3:8-9) and putting on the new man ( Colossians 3:10-11). Paul explains how to put on the new man in Colossians 3:12-17. This new walk will bring peace in their hearts ( Colossians 3:15). They are to renew their minds with the Word of God ( Colossians 3:16) so that what they do will be done to bring glory to the Father ( Colossians 3:17). This passage basically tells us how to develop our spirits for a spirit-led life.

1. Seek Things Above

2. Put Off the Old Man

3. Put On the New Man

C. His Preeminence in Our Conduct: Physical Transformation ( Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:6) - Paul then gives them specific charges so that they will be challenged to begin to walk in this new life. This passage is about submitting to one another, because we have a Master in Heaven ( Colossians 4:1). They are to learn how to allow Christ to rule their homes, in all of their relationships as wives, as husbands, as children, as fathers, as slaves and as masters ( Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1). Thus, we can see in this passage of Scripture the manifestation of Christ ruling our lives by how we behave in our social relationships. They are also exhorted to learn how to let Christ rule their prayer time and church time ( Colossians 4:2-4), to be careful how they conduct themselves with those outside the church as they learn to bring their words into obedience to Christ ( Colossians 4:5-6). When a man learns to bring his words in submission, he has reached the state of maturity that God has called him to ( James 3:2).

James 3:2, "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect Prayer of Manasseh , and able also to bridle the whole body."

Here is a proposed outline:

1. Submission At Home: Domestic Duties ( Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1) - Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1 places emphasis upon our domestic duties at home as we learn to submit to one another.

a) Submission Between Husbands and Wives ( Colossians 3:18-19) - Colossians 3:18-19 discusses the role of submission in marriage between a husband and a wife in the fear of the Lord.

b) Submission Between Children and Parents ( Colossians 3:20-21) - Colossians 3:20-21 discusses the role of submission in parenting between children and parents in the fear of the Lord.

c) Submission Between Masters and Slaves ( Colossians 3:22 to Colossians 4:1) - The passage of Colossians 3:22 to Colossians 4:1 addresses the relationship of slave and master in regards to submitting to one another in the fear of the Lord. We may apply it today to employee-employer. Paul deals with this social relationship within the context of the theme of Colossians , which is the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the life of a believer. Slave ownership was an important part of the economic structure of the Roman society. Without it, the Empire would not be able to finance its infrastructure. Yet our Christian ethics tell us that it is morally wrong.

2. Submission at Church: Religious Duties ( Colossians 4:2-4) - Colossians 4:2-4 deals with submission in Church as a religious duty.

3. Submission in the World: Civil Duties ( Colossians 4:5-6) - Colossians 4:5-6 deals with our civil duties to be submissive before the world. We are to use wisdom in our relationships with them ( Colossians 4:5) while being gentle ( Colossians 4:6). One way to say it is that we do not have to trust them, but we do have to love them.

According to the parallel passage in Ephesians , verse 5 refers to the things we do by walking circumspectly, or walking in Wisdom of Solomon , while verse 6 refers to the things that we say.

Ephesians 5:15-16, "See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."

Paul is telling us that what we do ( Colossians 4:5) and what we say ( Colossians 4:6) will be seen and heard by the world. Therefore, every area of our Christian conduct must be becoming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

V. Final Salutation ( Colossians 4:7-18) - In Colossians 4:7-18 we have the final salutation of Paul to the church at Colossi. It is very important for Christian to let others know how they are doing in the Lord. It is a great encouragement to see others being used mightily by God. He first commends Tychicus who bore this letter to the Colossians ( Colossians 4:7-9). He then sends greetings from his co-workers ( Colossians 4:10-14). He closes with a few instructional remarks ( Colossians 4:15-18).

A. Commendation of Tychicus ( Colossians 4:7-9) - In Colossians 4:7-9 Paul gives Tychicus, who was the letter bearer along with Onesimus, a commendation to the Colossians.

B. Greetings from Paul's Co-workers ( Colossians 4:10-14) - In Colossians 4:10-14 Paul sends greetings to the Colossians from his co-workers.

C. Closing Remarks ( Colossians 4:15-18) - In Colossians 4:15-18 Paul gives his closing remarks to the Colossians.

XI. Outline of Book

The following outline is a summary of the preceding literary structure; thus, it reflects the theological framework of the epistle of Colossians: its purpose, its three-fold thematic scheme, and its literary structure. As a result, this outline offers sermon sections that fit together into a single message that can be used by preachers and teachers to guide a congregation or class through the epistle of Colossians. This journey through Colossians will lead believers into one aspect of conformity to the image of Christ Jesus that was intended by the Lord, which in this book of the Holy Scriptures is to prepare Christians to allow Christ to have preeminence in their daily lifestyle, establishing themselves in the faith, setting their affections on the kingdom of Heaven above, and learning to submit to one another, in order to walk as a member of His Body, the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I. Opening Salutation— Colossians 1:1-2

II. The Preeminence of Christ over the Colossians— Colossians 1:3-11

A. Paul's Recognition of Their Faith and Love in Christ— Colossians 1:3-8

B. Paul's Prayer for Understanding Christ's Preeminence— Colossians 1:9-11

III. The Preeminence of Christ in Christian Doctrine— Colossians 1:12-29

A. The Role of the Father in Christ's Preeminence— Colossians 1:12-18

B. The Role of Jesus Christ in His Own Preeminence— Colossians 1:19-23

C. The Role of the Holy Spirit in Christ's Preeminence— Colossians 1:24-29

IV. The Preeminence of Christ in Christian Living— Colossians 2:1 to Colossians 4:6

A. His Preeminence in our Thinking (Mental Transformation)— Colossians 2:1-23

1. Paul's Exhortation to Steadfastness in Christ— Colossians 2:1-7

2. Christ verses Philosophy (Their Doctrine Confronted)— Colossians 2:8-15

3. Heresies Exposed (Their Practice Confronted)— Colossians 2:16-23

B. His Preeminence in our Affections (Spiritual Transformation)— Colossians 3:1-17

1. Seek Things Above— Colossians 3:1-4

2. Put Off the Old Man— Colossians 3:5-10

3. Put On the New Man— Colossians 3:12-17

C. His Preeminence in Our Conduct (Physical Transformation)— Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:6

1. At Home (Domestic Duties)— Colossians 3:18 to Colossians 4:1

a) Husbands and Wives— Colossians 3:18-19

b) Children and Parents— Colossians 3:20-21

c) Masters and Slaves— Colossians 3:22 to Colossians 4:1

2. At Church (Religious Duties)— Colossians 4:2-4

3. In the World—(Civil Duties)— Colossians 4:5-6

V. Final Salutations— Colossians 4:7-18

A. Commendation of Tychicus— Colossians 4:7-9

B. Greetings from Paul's Co-workers— Colossians 4:10-14

C. Closing Remarks— Colossians 4:15-18

BIBLIOGRAPHY

COMMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Barnes, Albert. The Epistle of Paul to Philemon , in Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Barnes, Albert. The Epistle to the Colossians. In Barnes" Notes, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Brow, Robert. Ephesians Commentary. (Odessa ON: J.L.P Digital Publications, 2002) [on-line]. Accessed 10 May 2002. Available from http://www.brow.on.ca. Internet.

Clarke, Adam. The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians. In Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Clarke, Adam. The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians. In Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Denney, James. The Epistles to the Thessalonians. In The Expositor's Bible. Eds. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph. New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.

Exell, Joseph S, ed. Colossians. In The Biblical Illustrator. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Pub. House, 1954. In Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM], Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2002.

Findlay, George G. Colossians. In The Pulpit Commentary, eds. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph Exell. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 1950. In Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM]. Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001.

Gill, John. Colossians. In John Gill's Expositor. In OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM]. Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005.

Grotius, Hugo. Annotationes in Epistolam Ad Philemonem. In Hugonis Grotii Annotationes in Novem Testamentum, vol 7. Groningae: W. Zuidema.

Henry, Matthew. Colossians. In Matthew Henry"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1991. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. The Epistle to the Colossians. In Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1997. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

John Chrysostom. Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of S. Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians. In A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and the West, vol 5. Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1840.

John Chrysostom. Homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, on the Epistle of S. Paul the Apostle to the Romans. In A Library of Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church, Anterior to the Division of the East and the West, vol 7. Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841.

MacDonald, William. The Epistle to the Colossians. In Believer's Bible Commentary. Ed. Arthur Farstad. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1995. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Maclaren, Alexander. Colossians and Philemon. In The Expositor's Bible. Eds. William R. Nicoll and Oscar L. Joseph. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956. In Ages Digital Library, v 10 [CD-ROM]. Rio, WI: Ages Software, Inc, 2001.

MacKnight, James. A New Literal Translation From the Original Greek, of all the Apostolical Epistles, with a Commentary, and Notes, Philological, Critical, Explanatory, and Practical, vol 3, fourth edition. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme; T. Hamilton, Paternoster Row; R. Ogle; J. Ogle; M. Ogle, 1809.

McGee, J. Vernon. The Epistle to the Colossians. In Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

McGee, J. Vernon. The Epistle to the Romans. In Thru the Bible With J. Vernon McGee. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1998. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Metzger, Bruce M, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker, eds. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007.

Pfeiffer, Charles and Everett F. Harrison, eds. The Epistle to the Colossians. In The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Chicago: Moody Press, c 1962. In P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM]. Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000.

Poole, Matthew. Colossians. In Matthew Poole's New Testament Commentary. In OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM]. Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005.

Radmacher, Earl D, Ronald B. Allen, and H. Wayne House, eds. The Epistle to the Colossians. In Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1999. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Roustio, Edward R. The Epistle to the Colossians. In The KJV Bible Commentary, eds. Edward E. Hindson and Woodrow M. Kroll. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub, 1994. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM]. Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Vaughan, Curtis. Colossians. In The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol 11. Eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992. In Zondervan Reference Software, v 28 [CD-ROM]. Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp, 1989-2001.

GENERAL BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aland, Kurt, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, eds. The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology). Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993, 2006. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Badger, George Percy. The Nestorians and their Rituals, vol 2. London: Joseph Masters, 1852.

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Comfort Philip W, and David P. Barrett, eds. The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, c 1999, 2001. In Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004.

Easton, Matthew George. "Subscriptions." In Easton's Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, c 1897. In The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-200).

The Geography of Strabo, vol 5. Trans. Horace Leonard Jones. In The Loeb Classical Library. Eds. T. E. Page, E. Capps, and W. H. D. Rouse. London: William Heinemann, 1961.

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Goodspeed, Edgar J. Introduction to the New Testament. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1937.

Goodspeed, Edgar J. "The Letter to the Colossians." In Introduction to the New Testament. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press, 1937. Accessed 8 September 2008. Available from http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/goodspeed/; Internet.

Goodwin, William W. Plutarch's Essays and Miscellanies, vol 3. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1911.

Grassmick, John D. "Epistolary Genre." In Interpreting the New Testament Text. Eds. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2006.

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Gunkel, Hermann. The Psalm: A Form-Critical Introduction. Trans. Thomas M. Horner. In Biblical Series, vol 19. Ed. John Reumann. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967.

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Hagin, Kenneth. Plans Purposes and Pursuits. Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c 1988, 1993.

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Meyer, Heinrich A. W. Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Epistles to the Philippians and Colossians , and to Philemon. Trans. John C. Moore and William P. Dickson. In Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the New Testament. Ed. Heinrich A. W. Meyer. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1885.

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