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INTRODUCTION TO COLOSSIANS

 Dr. Grant C. Richison

 

 I. ORIGIN OF THE COLOSSIAN CHURCH

A. 2:1 indicates the Colossian church had never seen Paul. cf. 1:4,7,8

B. The biblical historical background to Colossians can be seen in Acts 19:10, 26.

C. Paul missed Colosse on both of his missionary trips, Acts 16:6; 19:1.

D. Paul sent Epaphras to preach to them, Col 1:7.

E. Paul evangelized the churches of the Lychus Valley where Colosse was located. Also Laodicea and Hieropolis were located there.

F. The Colossian church was mainly Gentile, 1:21,27; 2:11.

II. THE CITY OF COLOSSE

A. The city lay in the Lychus Valley where is Turkey today.

B. Mountains surrounded the area. It was about 100 miles inland west from Ephesus.

C. It was overshadowed in importance by Laodicea and Hieropolis due to changes in the main road. As a result traffic and trade went to her rival cities.

D. The people of Colosse were mostly Phrygians and Greek colonists.

E. There were a great number of Jews in that section of the country. Antiochus the Great (223-187 B.C.) transplanted 2,000 families of Jews from Mesopotamia and Babylon to Phrygia and Lydia. Many lived in this region at this time.

F. Colosse was situated in the province of Phrygia or the Roman province Asia.

G. The region was subject to earthquakes.

III. OCCASION

During Paul’s absence from the Lychus Valley an insidious error crept into the Colossian Church. Epaphras went to Rome to report the inroads of this heresy (1:7,8). The heresy was a combination of Judaism and incipient gnosticism (anything material was sinful).

These errors led to two practical problems:

1. Asceticism (2:21-23) — flee from the world

2. License (3:5-17) — indifferent to the world

IV. PURPOSES:

A. To set forth Christ as pre-eminent (1:18; 2:9). This is God’s answer to error.

Jesus is no angelic being from God; he possesses a real body (cf. 1:16-17). In that body all the fullness of the Godhead dwells. Angels are subject to him. There is no need for any other mediation than Christ between God and man (1:19-20).

B. To warn against the false philosophies of tradition, legalism, mysticism and asceticism (2:18-23).

V. THEME

Christ the head of the universal church, 1:18.

VI. KEY VERSE

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 may have the preeminence.”

VII. KEY WORD

All” — 32 times

VIII. DATE

About A.D. 61 in Rome.

IX. MISCELLANEOUS MATTER

A. The book was carried to Colosse by Tychicus, 4:7-9 (compare Ephesians 4:7).

B. Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon written at the same time.

C. Colossians is similar to Ephesians

1. 78 of 95 verses bear a resemblance.

2. Emphasis of Ephesians — the body of Christ; emphasis of Colossians — Christ, the head of the body.

D. Colossians was written by Paul while he was in prison in Rome (1:1; 4:10,18).

E. The book of Colossians is characterized by repeated emphasis on positional truth (status quo of the believer in God’s eyes) (1:24-29; 2:9; 2:20-3:4).

F. The book is Christocentric (Christ-centered).

X. OUTLINE

A. Preliminary statements, 1:1-2

B. Pre-eminence of Christ, 1:3-2:3

C. Polemic against error, 2:4-3:4

D. Practical exhortations, 3:5-4:6

E. Personal messages, 4:7-17

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