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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Colossae

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(Κολοσσαί, Colossians 1:2; but the preponderance of MS. authority is in favor of Κολασσαί, Colasse, a form used by the Byzantine writers, and which perhaps represents the provincial mode of pronouncing the name. On coins and inscriptions [see Eckhel, Doct. Num. I, 3, 147], and in classical writers [see Valcken. ad Herod. 7:30], we find Κολοσσαί ), a city of Phrygia Pacatiana, in the upper part of the basin of the Maeander, on one of its affluents named the Lycus. Hierapolis and Laodicea were in its immediate neighborhood (Colossians 2:1; Colossians 4:13; Colossians 4:15-16; see Revelation 1:11; Revelation 3:14). Colossae fell as these other two cities rose in importance. At a later date they were all overthrown by an earthquake. Herodotus (7, 30) and Xenophon (Anab. 1:2, 6) speak of it as a city of considerable consequence (comp. Pliny, v. 29). Strabo (12:576) describes it as only a πόλισμα, not a πόλις ; yet elsewhere (p. 578) he implies that it had some mercantile importance; and Pliny, in Paul's time, describes it (5, 41) as one of the "celeberrima oppida" of its district. Colossae was situated close to the great road which led from Ephesus to the Euphrates. Hence our impulse would be to conclude that Paul passed this way, and founded or confirmed the Colossian Church on his third missionary journey (Acts 18:23; Acts 19:1). He might also have easily visited Colossse during the prolonged stay at Ephesus, which immediately followed. The most competent commentators, however, agree in thinking that Colossians 2:1, proves that Paul had never been there when the epistle was written (but see the Stud. u. Krit. 1829, 3. 612 sq.). (See PAUL).

Theodoret's argument that he must have visited Colossas on the journey just referred to, because he is said to have gone through the whole region of Phrygia, may be proved fallacious from geographical considerations; Colossae, though ethnologically in Phrygia (Herod. l. c.; Xen. l. c.), was at this period politically in the province of Asia (see Rev. l. c.). That the apostle hoped to visit the place on being delivered from his Roman imprisonment is clear from Philemon 1:22 (compare Philippians 2:24). Philemon and his slave Onesimus were dwellers in Colossae. So also were Archippus and Epaphras. From Colossians 1:7; Colossians 4:12, it has been naturally concluded that the latter Christian was the founder of the Colossian Church (see Alford's Prolegomena to Gr. Test. 3. 35). (See EPAPHRAS).

The worship of angels mentioned by the apostle (Colossians 2:18) curiously reappears in Christian times in connection with one of the topographical features of the place. A church in honor of the archangel Michael was erected at the entrance of a chasm in consequence of a legend connected with an inundation (Hartley's Researches in Greece, p. 52); and there is good reason for identifying this chasm with one which is mentioned by Herodotus. This kind of superstition is mentioned by Theodoret as subsisting in his time; also by the Byzantine writer Nicetas Choniates, who was a native of this place, and who says that Colossse and Chonae were the same (Chronicles p. 115). The probability is that under the later emperors, Colossae, being in a ruinous state, made way for a more modern town, Chonae (Χῶναι, so Theophylact. ad Colossians 2:1), situated near it. The neighborhood (visited by Pococke) was explored by Mr. Arundel (Seven Churches, p. 158; Asia Minor, 2:160); but Mr. Hamilton was the first to determine the actual site of the ancient city, which appears to be at some little distance from the modern village of Chonas (Researches in Asia Minor, 1:508). The huge range of Mount Cadmus rises immediately behind the village, close to which there is in the mountain an immense perpendicular chasm, affording an outlet for a wide mountain torrent. The ruins of an old castle stand on the summit of the rock forming the left side of this chasm. There are some traces of ruins and fragments of stone in the neighborhood, but barely more than sufficient to attest the existence of an ancient site (Pococke, East, 3. 114; Schubert, Reise, 1:282; see generally Hofmann, Introd. in lection. ep. ad Colos. Lips. 1749; Cellarii Notit. 2:152 sq.; Mannert, Geogr. VI, 1:127 sq.; Smith, Dict. of Class. Geogr s.v.). (See COLOSSIANS (EPISTLE TO THE).)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Colossae'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/c/colossae.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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