Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Background on the letter to the Colossians #2

     As we begin our time in Colossians, stop and consider some background on this letter.
    The town of Colossae was located in the hinterland region of Asia. It was on a rocky ridge that overlooked the valley of the Lycus River. It was a good-sized city, but it was decadent. It was located on a mountain pass on the road from Ephesus to the east. It was once known for its glossy black wool.

      Possibly the location was evangelized by Timothy or Epaphras.[1] Paul's references in his letter point to the fact that he had never been there himself.[2] The church was probably started during Paul’s third missionary journey while he spent three years in Ephesus.[3]
     It appears as if Epaphras’ visit and report on what was happening at Colossae was the stimulus for this letter from Paul. Although they had not yet become a part of an encroaching heresy, Paul writes to stem the movement within the chiefly Gentile Church.
     The heresy, which evoked this letter, was a blasé form of intellectualism. This intellectualism was only interested in mysteries, secret knowledge and wisdom. It may have combined elements of Greek Gnosticism, Jewish legalism, and oriental mysticism. This in turn caused them to discount Christ as a false philosophy. Paul did not spend his time in idle theories. To him, the gospel had clear ethical consequences. To Paul, Jesus Christ was first in all things.[4]

Prayer: Heresy still abounds today. Spirit of Truth, help us to discern what is truth and what are the lies of the enemy. Strengthen my ability to see and walk in the way of Jesus. Amen.


[1] Harold Willmington. Willminton’s Guide to the Bible. (Wheaton, Il:Tyndale House Publishers, 1983) Pg. 474.
[2] See Colossians 2:1
[3] See further Acts 19:10; 20:31
[4] Thomas Marshall. A Student’s New Testament Survey. (Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing & Enterprises, 2007) Pp. 91 -92.

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