jesus is enough.

Paul's Letter to the Colossians

Starting July 4, 2021: A Sermon Series in the Book of Colossians

Join us at Greenmonte as we dive into the book of Colossians to learn just how Jesus is enough for us. The book of Colossians was a letter written by Paul to the church in Colossae. Below, you can find some background information for this letter. 

Author

The Apostle Paul is widely agreed upon as the author of the letter to the Colossians.  Most of the early church writers ascribed authorship to Paul.  Some academics believe, however, that the stylistic differences in the writing of Colossians along with a more robust theology than what Paul expressed in earlier letters, points to the fact that Paul may not have written the letter to the Colossians.  Upon closer examination of the letter, however, we see that Paul was addressing specific theological concerns (with universal application) in Colossae and therefore was not at all inconsistent with his theology elsewhere in the New Testament.  Furthermore, there is clear and strong affinity between Paul’s style of writing here in Colossians and in his other letters written during the same time period.

Date

Most likely, the letter to the Colossians was written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome.  Paul would spend at least two years under house arrest there (Acts 28).  There has been robust debate as to whether Paul could have written Colossians from Ephesus or Caesarea, but the greatest evidence points to a writing from Rome where Paul would have penned all of the ‘prison epistles’.  Those writings include Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon.  A reasonable time of writing would be around A.D. 61, since after that a powerful earthquake struck the region and ravaged Colossae.  It’s most certain that the destruction of the city would have been mentioned by Paul had the letter been written later than this

Context

Nestled in the beautiful Lycus Valley about 100 miles east of Ephesus, Colossae had at one time been an important town during the Greek and Persian War of the fifth century B.C.  Even though it was located on the great east-west trade route, as time passed, the world moved on from Colossae and it was surpassed by  the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis.  This relegated Colossae to second-rate status.  

The inhabitants of Colossae were mainly Greek colonists and native Phrygians when Paul wrote this epistle, though there were many Jews living in the area as well. Some two hundred years earlier, Antiochus the Great (223-187 B.C.) had relocated hundreds of Jewish families from Mesopotamia to this region.

During Paul’s ministry in nearby Ephesus, a Colossian named Epaphras had apparently been converted through the preaching of the gospel and took it’s message back home with him to Colossae.  As a result of Epaphras’ faithful ministry and gospel proclamation, a number of new disciples were made and a small church sprung up.  However, the nascent church would soon fall prey to heretical influences, which led pastor Epaphras to visit the Apostle Paul in Rome and ask for help.  This challenge facing the church along with Paul’s fatherly care and concern, prompted the writing of the letter to the Colossian church.  

While the nature of the Colossian heresy is never clearly enunciated, one can infer from Paul’s analysis of the situation and his refutation that the issue was related to religious syncretism- the attempt to blend different and often contradictory religious beliefs.  The nature of the Colossian heresy was also quite diverse, fusing elements of local folk belief, traditional Judaism and early Gnostic mysticism including asceticism, angel worship, and ceremonialism among other things.

Purpose

Three purposes emerge through Paul’s letter to the Colossian church.  After expressing his personal concern and care for the young church, which he had not yet visited, Paul first warned them of the danger of returning to the old beliefs and practices they had before trusting Christ.  Secondly, he wrote to refute the false teaching that was threatening the congregation.  Thirdly, Paul set out to communicate the absolute supremacy and sole sufficiency of Jesus Christ.  

In his refutation of the Colossian heresy, Paul exalted Christ as greater than all.  Paul also laid out one of the most sweeping and breathtaking doctrines of Christology in all of Scripture: Jesus is the very image of God (1:15), the Creator (1:16) and sustainer of all things (1:17). He is the head of the Church (1:18) the first to be resurrected (1:18), the fullness of God in bodily form (1:19), and the ultimate reconciler (1:20-22).

Structure

The first two chapters of Colossians focus on doctrine and theological truths about the person and work of Jesus Christ through the gospel.  The last two chapters focus on the implications of these truths as we live for Christ.  If Jesus truly is who Paul says he is in chapters 1-2, then the most logical thing would be for us to live as Paul instructs in chapters 3-4.  

For our purposes at Greenmonte, we’ll be working our way through the letter to the Colossians in the following order:

Chapter and Verse Readings in Colossians
1:1-8      
1:9-14    
1:15-23  
1:24-2:5  
2:6-15
2:16-23
3:1-11
3:12-17
3:18-4:1
4:2-6
4:7-18
*Scripture is in ESV

Printable Reading Overview

For a printable document that contains all of the Scripture readings for Colossians in the order we'll go through them, click the button below to download.