Introduction to the Book of Colossians Index
Research Material

TITLE:

  • Like Paul's other epistles, this one probably bore no title originally, for it is a letter. The earliest extant manuscript has the simple title Pros Kolossaeis ("To[the] Colossians"), which doubtless was added by an early scribe when Paul's letters were collected and published as a unit. From (Colossians 1:2) it is obvious that such a title is correct. (7BC 183)

AUTHORSHIP:

HISTORICAL SETTING:

  • How or when or by whom the Colossian church was founded cannot be definitely known. Paul made Ephesus the headquarters of his missionary enterprises for about three years (Acts 20:31). His vigorous prosecution of evangelism during this time led Luke to declare, "And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks" (Acts 19:10). Even Demetrius affirmed that "almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people" (Acts 19:26) from paganism. Writing to the Corinthians toward the end of his sojourn in Ephesus and its environs, the apostle sent greetings from "the churches of Asia" (1 Corinthians 16:19). This indicates that Roman Asia was his mission field at this time (2 Corinthians 1:8; Romans 16:5). To the great seaport of Ephesus would flock visitors from all Asia, and Paul's messages must have been scattered far and wide by the returning travelers (Acts 19:10). Perhaps in this way the two citizens of Colossae, Epaphras (Colossians 4:12) and Philemon (Philemon 1; Philemon 10; Philemon 11; Colossians 4:9), heard the glad tidings of salvation. They, with others, may have taken the gospel back to their townspeople (Colossians 1:7). (7BC 183)
  • Thus, although Paul himself may not have founded the Colossian church (Colossians 2:1), he probably was, in a very real sense, its father. From this epistle it is clear that he held himself responsible for the spiritual condition of the Colossian Christians, and that he knew well their needs and the dangers in which they stood. This information was brought to him in Rome, apparently by Epaphras (Colossians 1:8; Philemon 23), and afforded the immediate reason for his writing the epistle to them. The danger confronting the Colossian believers arose from false teachings that were spreading among them. The precise details of these teachings at Colossae cannot be ascertained. Some scholars have identified them as being of two different types, Judaizing and Gnostic. Unquestionably they contained Judaizing tendencies, and some of the false doctrines alluded to in this epistle are similar to those held by certain Gnostics in the 2d and 3d centuries. (7BC 184)