DATE: 61-62 AD
Key Message: The Supremacy of Christ
Colosse was a Roman city of Asia Minor located about 100 miles east of Ephesus and near Laodicea and Hierapolis (4:13). It had been a prosperous commercial center but was in decline. Jewish legalism, Greek philosophy, and Oriental mysticism existed in Colosse and the combining of various ideas, beliefs, and practices (syncretism) prevailed. Specifics included dietary and Sabbath observances and circumcision rites (2:11, 16), the worship of angels (2:18), and the practice of asceticism, which stemmed from the belief that the body was inherently evil (2:21-23).
Like Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon, Colossians was written during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome. Paul was personally unacquainted with the believers in Colosse (Col 2:1) but learned of the problems in the church from Epaphras. Tychicus delivered the letter (Col. 4:7), in which Paul’s message to the Colossians was clear: Christ is preeminent. Paul wrote of the cosmic significance of Christ as Lord of Creation and Head of the Church (Col 1:15-23), and he exhorted that any teaching or practice that detracts from the centrality and supremacy of Christ is heresy(Col 2:8-23). He also encouraged the Colossians by writing or their union with Christ (Col 3:1-4).
OUTLINE OF COLOSSIANS
I. Introduction, 1:1-14
A. Greetings, 1:1-2
B. Gratitude for the Colossians’ Faith, 1:3-8
C. Prayer for the Colossians’ Growth, 1:9-14
II. The Exalted Christ, 1:15-29
A. Christ’s Character, 1:15-23
B. Christ’s Commission to Paul, 1:24-29
III. The Exalted Christianity, 2:1-23
A. Exalted over Philosophy, 2:1-10
B. Exalted over Legalism, 2:11-17
C. Exalted over Mystical Teaching, 2:18-19
D. Exalted over Asceticism, 2:20-23
IV. The Exalted Calling, 3:1-4:6
A. The Certainties of Our Calling, 3:1-4
B. The Characteristics of Our Calling, 3:5-4:6
1. In everyday life, 3:5-17
2. In the home, 3:18-21
3. In slave-master relationships, 3:22-4:1
4. In prayers, 4:2-4
5. In witness and speech, 4:5-6
V. Concluding Personal Remarks, 4:7-18
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