Reference: Colossians, Epistle To The
Was written by Paul, from Rome, A. D. 62. The occasion of the letter was the intelligence brought him by Epaphras, Col 1:6-8, respecting the internal state of the church, which apparently he himself had not yet visited, Col 2:1, though familiar with their history and affairs, Ac 16:6; 18:23. Some Jewish philosopher professing Christianity, but mingling with it a superstitious regard for the law and other errors, seems to have gained a dangerous ascendancy in the church. Paul shows that all our hope of salvation is in Christ the only mediator, in whom all fullness dwells; he cautions the Colossians against the errors introduced among them, as inconsistent with the gospel, and incites them by most persuasive arguments to a temper and conduct worthy of their Christian character. The epistle was written at the same time with that to the Ephesians, and was sent by the same bearer. The two closely resemble each other, and should be studied together.
was written by Paul at Rome during his first imprisonment there (Ac 28:16,30), probably in the spring of A.D. 57, or, as some think, 62, and soon after he had written his Epistle to the Ephesians. Like some of his other epistles (e.g., those to Corinth), this seems to have been written in consequence of information which had somehow been conveyed to him of the internal state of the church there (Col 1:4-8). Its object was to counteract false teaching. A large part of it is directed against certain speculatists who attempted to combine the doctrines of Oriental mysticism and asceticism with Christianity, thereby promising the disciples the enjoyment of a higher spiritual life and a deeper insight into the world of spirits. Paul argues against such teaching, showing that in Christ Jesus they had all things. He sets forth the majesty of his redemption. The mention of the "new moon" and "sabbath days" (Col 2:16) shows also that there were here Judaizing teachers who sought to draw away the disciples from the simplicity of the gospel.
Like most of Paul's epistles, this consists of two parts, a doctrinal and a practical.
(1.) The doctrinal part comprises the first two chapters. His main theme is developed in chapter 2. He warns them against being drawn away from Him in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead, and who was the head of all spiritual powers. Christ was the head of the body of which they were members; and if they were truly united to him, what needed they more?
(2.) The practical part of the epistle (3-4) enforces various duties naturally flowing from the doctrines expounded. They are exhorted to mind things that are above (Col 3:1-4), to mortify every evil principle of their nature, and to put on the new man (Col 3:5-14). Many special duties of the Christian life are also insisted upon as the fitting evidence of the Christian character. Tychicus was the bearer of the letter, as he was also of that to the Ephesians and to Philemon, and he would tell them of the state of the apostle (Col 4:7-9). After friendly greetings (10-14), he bids them interchange this letter with that he had sent to the neighbouring church of Laodicea. He then closes this brief but striking epistle with his usual autograph salutation. There is a remarkable resemblance between this epistle and that to the Ephesians (q.v.). The genuineness of this epistle has not been called in question.
COLOSSIANS, EPISTLE TO THE
This is generally believed to have been written by Paul during his two years' imprisonment at Rome, A.D. 61-2, notwithstanding that Meyer and other critics refer it to the imprisonment of Paul at Caesarea. The personal glory of Christ as head of the body, the church, is specially brought out. The hope before the saints is in heaven: they are viewed as risen, but not seated in the heavenlies in Christ, as in the Epistle to the Ephesians. The life of the new man is dwelt on, but the Holy Spirit is only once mentioned: 'your love in the Spirit.'
After the salutation, and thanking God for what Paul had heard of their faith (for apparently he had not been to Colosse) he at once prays for them that they might be filled with the full knowledge of God's will; might walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all things; and might be strengthened with all power. Col 1:9-11. Then he gives thanks for what God had done for them, which is true of all Christians. Col 1:12-14. The glories of Christ follow: as man, and as the Creator-God: He is head of the body, the church. Col 1:15-19. All fulness was pleased to dwell in Him, and by Him, to reconcile all things to Himself (or itself), having made peace through the blood of His cross: the saints were already reconciled if they continued in the faith (which would prove their reality). Col 1:20-24. Paul had a double ministry: in the gospel, Col 1:23; and in the church, Col 1:25. His sufferings in his body filled up the (non-atoning) sufferings of Christ; and the revelation he had, concerning the mystery of the church, filled up the word of God (not as to time, for some portions were added afterwards, but as to the circle of subjects). Paul laboured to present every man perfect (that is, full grown) in Christ.
Colossians 2: Paul was deeply anxious for the welfare of the saints, that they might be rooted, built up, and established in the faith, lest they should be led astray by the philosophy of the world and the deceitful teaching of men, which would in no way minister Christ to them. In Him dwelt 'all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,' and they were 'complete in Him': nothing must be allowed to come between them. In Christ they had the reality of the things signified in the ordinances of circumcision and baptism. They had died and were risen with Christ. The saints were warned in Col 2:16-17 against being entangled with the Jewish things; and with the occult philosophy of the fleshly mind of the Gentile: all of which was in contrast and in opposition to holding Christ as Head. Having died with Christ they were set free from all the ordinances of men. This has been called the negative side.
Colossians 3: This gives the positive side, being 'risen with Christ.' Their mind was to be set on things above, as heavenly people walking on earth. When the Lord appeared they would appear with Him in glory. Christ was their life, and in consistency therewith they were to mortify