The city of Colossae was about 100 miles from Ephesus (near Laodicea and Hierapolis, 4:13). The Gospel was probably taken to Colossae while Paul was at Ephesus (1:7; Acts 19:10). Epahras was the one who played an important part in its evangelism and spiritual growth (Colossians 1:7). While Paul did not know the people there personally (2:1), Epaphras told him about them and the conditions that existed there. Paul wrote this letter during his first imprisonment in Rome. He sent Tychicus to deliver the letter (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7). The people were trying to synthesize (combine together into one religion) Christian doctrine with the teachings of other existing religious beliefs (Ryrie Study Bible)...Jewish legalism, Greek philosophic speculation, and Oriental mysticism. Numerous doctrinal heresies had developed in the church, including...dietary and Sabbath observances, circumcision rites (2:11,16), the worship of angels (2:18), and the practice of asceticism (the belief that the body is inherently evil, 2:21-23). Paul refutes these by teaching them that Christ is supreme and all-sufficient over all matters.
ko-los'-e (Kolossai, "punishment"; the King James Version Colosse): A city of Phrygia on the Lycus River, one of the branches of the Meander, and 3 miles from Mt. Cadmus, 8,013 ft. high. It stood at the head of a gorge where the two streams unite, and on the great highway traversing the country from Ephesus to the Euphrates valley, 13 miles from Hierapolis and 10 from Laodicea. Its history is chiefly associated with that of these two cities. Early, according to both Herodotus and Xenophon, it was a place of great importance. There Xerxes stopped 481 BC (Herodotus vii.30) and Cyrus the Younger marched 401 BC (Xen. Anab. i.2,6). From Col 2:1 it is not likely that Paul visited the place in person; but its Christianization was due to the efforts of Epaphras and Timothy (Col 1:1,7), and it was the home of Philemon and Epaphras. That a church was established there early is evident from Col 4:12,13; Re 1:11; 3:14. As the neighboring cities, Hierapolis and Laodicea, increased in importance, Colosse declined. There were many Jews living there, and a chief article of commerce, for which the place was renowned, was the collossinus, a peculiar wool, probably of a purple color. In religion the people were specially lax, worshipping angels. Of them, Michael was the chief, and the protecting saint of the city. It is said that once he appeared to the people, saving the city in time of a flood. It was this belief in angels which called forth Paul's epistle (Col 2:18). During the 7th and 8th centuries the place was overrun by the Saracens; in the 12th century the church was destroyed by the Turks and the city disappeared. Its site was explored by Mr. Hamilton. The ruins of the church, the stone foundation of a large theater, and a necropolis with stones of a peculiar shape are still to be seen. During the Middle Ages the place bore the name of Chonae; it is now called Chonas.
https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/Dictionary/viewTopic.cfm?topic=IT0002200, written by E.J. Banks
Colossians 1:1-5-Introductory Comments
Colossians 1:6-14-Paul’s Prayer for Them
Colossians 1:1-12-Paul tells them that he has heard about the faith that they have in Jesus (:4), the love that they have for each other (:4) and that he prays for them constantly (:3,9). He prays that they will be filled with a knowledge of God's will so that they will:
- walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (:10);
- please Him in all respects (:10);
- bear fruit in every good work (:10);
- increase in their knowledge of God (:10);
- be strengthened with all power so that they will be steadfast and patient (:11);
- joyously give thanks to the Father for qualifying them to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (:11-12)…this inheritance is the result of our becoming the children of God
Colossians 1:12-14-This inheritance is in the "light" (:12)...as compared to the "domain of darkness" (:13) that they were previously a part of. God has "translated" (Greek-"methistemi"-to cause a change of position, to remove, transport) us to the "kingdom of His beloved Son" (:13). In Him we have redemption and forgiveness of our sins.
Colossians 1:15-29-The Establishment of the Supremacy of Jesus
Colossians 1:15-20-The source of the supremacy of Jesus
Colossians 1:15-17-Paul establishes the supremacy of Jesus over all of creation by revealing exactly Who He is…He is God. Jesus is the "image" (the visible likeness, manifestation) of the "invisible God". He is the "first born" of all creation...meaning that He has all the rights of a first born son, He is preeminent, supreme over all of creation. He is the creator of all things (John 1), He is originator of all things, and He is the sustainer of all things.
What Paul teaches here is vitally important. It establishes Jesus as being supreme over all of creation…because He is the one God. There is no other god or belief system that can be added to Him or that has authority comparable to His. He is the absolute and final source of truth. There were people who were attempting to make Christianity an amalgamation of truths from various and multiple sources. Each claiming to have its own truth and spiritual viability. No one source of truth had claim or authority over another. But Paul directly confronts this as a false teaching by identifying the supremacy of Jesus over all other sources of truth and spirituality.
Today, there are people who have bumper tags that read, “coexist”…meaning that all religions are equally true and practical and that all should recognize that none is superior over the other. However, Paul would refute this as a false teaching…even as he did in his letter to the Philippians.
Colossians 1:18-Paul establishes the supremacy of Jesus over the church...using some of the same terms that he used about creation.
- Head of the body, the church: This describes Jesus relationship to the church. Here, head probably refers to Jesus' role as source of the church, even as we refer to the head of a river.
- That in all things He may have the preeminence: This is a fitting summary of verses Colossians 1:15-18.
- Adam Clarke on Colossians 1:16-17: "Now, allowing St. Paul to have understood the terms which he used, he must have considered Jesus Christ as being truly and properly God.... Unless there be some secret way of understanding the 16th and 17th verses, which God has nowhere revealed, taken in their sober and rational sense and meaning they must forever settle this very important point."
- Fullness: This translates the ancient Greek word pleroma, and was really just another way to say that Jesus is truly God.
- The word fullness was "a recognized technical term in theology, denoting the totality of the Divine powers and attributes." (Lightfoot, cited in Robertson)
- According to Vincent, pleroma was used by the Gnostic teachers in a technical sense, to express the sum-total of divine powers and attributes "Christ may have been ranked with these inferior images of the divine by the Colossian teachers. Hence the significance of the assertion that the totality of the divine dwells in Him." (Vincent)
iii. "The Gnostics distributed the divine powers among various aeons. Paul gathers them all up in Christ, a full and flat statement of the deity of Christ." (Robertson)
- For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell: The ancient Greek word for dwell is here used in the sense of a permanent dwelling. There is an entirely different word used for the sense of a temporary dwelling place. Paul wanted to emphasize the idea that Jesus was not temporarily God, but is permanently God.
- "Two mighty words; 'fullness' a substantial, comprehensive, expressive word in itself, and 'all,' a great little word including everything. When combined in the expression, 'all fullness,' we have before us a superlative wealth of meaning." (Spurgeon)
- Once it pleased the Father to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10); now it pleases the Father than in Him all the fullness of God should dwell.
iii. "Thus the phrase in Him should all the fullness dwell gathers into a grand climax the previous statements - image of God, first-born of all creation, Creator, the eternally preexistent, the Head of the Church, the victor over death, first in all things. On this summit we pause, looking like John, from Christ in His fullness of deity to the exhibition of that divine fullness in redemption consummated in heaven." (Vincent)
- The fullness has been put into Jesus Christ. Not into a church; not into a priesthood; not into a building; not into a sacrament; not into the saints; not into a method or a program, but in Jesus Christ Himself. It was put into Him as a "distribution point" - so that those who wanted more of God and all that He is could find it in Jesus Christ.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Colossians 1, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Col/Col_1.cfm?a=1108012
Colossians 1:19-The term "the fulness" (cf. 2:9) is a reference to the fact that everything that God the Father is, God the Son is.
Colossians 1:20-Paul makes it clear that God "reconciled" ("to transfer from a certain state to another which is quite different; hence, to reconcile, restore to favour"-The Analytical Greek Lexicon, p. 43) all things..."whether things on earth or things in heaven"...to Himself through Jesus. Thus, again establishing the supremacy of Jesus over all other suggested means of salvation. Paul is first establishing the absolute supremacy of the person of Jesus over all things (whether they exist in heaven or earth), so that he can then establish the absolute supremacy of the teaching of Jesus over all other things (whether they claim to come from angels or men).
Colossians 1:21-23-The warning against falling away from the supremacy of Jesus
Colossians 1:21-22-Paul addresses the false doctrine of dosceticism...that would lead some to say that Jesus never actually existed in a physical body, but only as a spirit. They claimed that if the body is inherently evil, how could Jesus have had a body and yet, remained sinless? Paul makes it clear that Jesus had a physical body. It wasn't the physical body that was evil...but, it was their "evil deeds" (:21) that made them sinful and that there is no disconnect between their deeds and their body. The "evil deeds" that they committed were the reason why their body was evil. So, Jesus did not just come in a spiritual form to save their spirit...but, He came in a human body so that they could be completely saved...body, soul, and spirit. Before, because of their own actions they were "alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds" (:21). Now, because of the actions of Jesus they are "holy and blameless and beyond reproach" before God.
Colossians 1:23-Paul issues a warning to them. Paul warns them that their faith must rest in Jesus ("the hope of the gospel") and not in false teachings. The true substance and object of their faith will be disclosed at the end of their life when they stand before God. They must "continue in the faith" and not turn to something else.
Colossians 1:24-29-Paul’s explanation of his calling and his message (his authority)
Colossians 1:24-27-Paul tells them that he is a minister because God made him so (:25)...and he has been called to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. In other words, the "Christ" (Messiah) of the Jews is the same Savior for the Gentiles as for the Jews...there is no difference. In times past this was a "mystery"...the complete knowledge of God's plan of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles was not fully known until Christ came. He refers to the fact that God "made" him a minister and that the "mystery" has been "manifested" to him. He is positioning himself as having more authority in matters pertaining to God than those others who are trying to influence the church with other doctrines.
Colossians 1:28-29-This is the message that Paul preaches to “every man”…Jew and Gentile, alike.
Prayer: Father, please keep me from being influenced by false teachings. Many of the doctrinal issues that the Christians in Colossae faced are still around today...and they can be very subtle. Help me to know the truth and to continue in the true faith.