The apostle Paul identifies himself as the author, along with Timothy, who possibly served as his scribe in writing (Col. 1:1). The letter contains a first-person reference in Col. 1:23 and closes with the words, “The salutation by the hand of me, Paul” (Col. 4:18). While some scholars have cast doubt on Pauline authorship because of stylistic and theological differences, their arguments are not convincing. While some of the style and language are specific to the Colossian situation, there is much in the letter that fits Paul’s other writings. Regarding the theology of the book, while the specifics of the threat of a worldly “philosophy” (Col. 2:8) are unique to the church in Colosse, Paul’s emphasis on a high Christology and the centrality of the gospel to combat such a threat is in keeping with the theology of Paul’s other letters. There is little reason to doubt the authenticity of Pauline authorship.
Colossians is considered one of the Prison Epistles (Col. 4:3,18) and it is believed that Paul wrote this while imprisoned in Rome. This fits with Paul’s references to Aristarchus and Luke (Col. 4:10,14; see also Acts 27:2).
Paul wrote the letter from prison in Rome around AD 61 or 62.
The supremacy of Christ over all things.
To ground and settle the Colossians in the knowledge of Christ against error.
The Contribution of Colossians to Redemptive Revelation
Though Paul did not plant the church in Colosse or visit the believers there, he cared deeply for the church and received reports regarding the church’s health. Upon hearing that false teachers threatened the purity of the gospel of free grace, Paul responded with a letter. Though there are certainly difficulties in grasping a full understanding of the threat the Colossian believers faced, it is clear that it demanded adherence to external rites, that it was according to men and contrary to Christ (Col. 2:8,20-21). Paul responds by reminding the church that Jesus Christ is supreme over all creation and over the new creation (the church). Therefore, anything that detracts from the supremacy of Christ is to be repudiated. Paul intercedes for them and encourages them, that rather than becoming pulled away from the faith that they learned from Epaphras (Col. 1:7), they will continue to grow in and be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Col. 1:9).
The Christian life becomes visible in everyday life; it is distinct from the world. There must be a change in the heart, though, before there is change in one’s life. The Colossian believers faced a teaching that following certain external rules would make a person more spiritual (Col. 2:21). This teaching was contrary to the gospel of Christ and resulted in a form of religion that, while it may have appeared to be wise and humble (Col. 2:23), actually threatened the sufficiency of the gospel. Because of this threat, Paul wrote to the Colossians to encourage them to continue in the faith of Christ that they initially received (Col. 2:6). Instead of following after man-made wisdom, believers should continue to pursue Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3).
Therefore, the greatest antidote to external religion is a clearer vision of the person and work of Jesus Christ (Col. 1:15-22). Seeing Christ, in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily (Col. 1:19; 2:9), is utterly transforming. Paul highlights this in his prayer and works it out in greater detail in chapters 2-3. Knowing God’s will, grasping one’s union with Christ in his death and resurrection, and fixing one’s mind on things above where Christ is leads to Christlikeness, which is the goal of sanctification (Col 3:10). Because Christ is sufficient for both justification and sanctification, the Christian should not shortchange himself by conforming merely to external forms of religion. All that he has and needs is found in Christ. Paul is quick to remind them that relying solely on Christ and living in light of the resurrection does not lead to licentiousness. Rather, those in Christ, as the elect of God, are holy and live holy lives (Col. 3:12-4:1). Reading Colossians and grasping its message brings the believer into a deeper and greater experience of the blessings found in Jesus Christ, the visible image of the invisible God.
- Introduction (Col. 1:1-14)
- Greetings (Col. 1:1-2)
- Thanksgiving (Col. 1:3-8)
- Prayer (Col. 1:9-14)
- Glorying in the Supremacy of Christ (Col. 1:15-23)
- Supremacy of Christ over Creation (Col. 1:15-17)
- Supremacy of Christ over the New Creation (Col. 1:18)
- Supremacy of Christ in the Work of Redemption (Col. 1:19-23)
- Paul’s Ministry and Conflict for the Colossian Believers (Col. 1:24-2:7)
- Paul’s Ministry of Preaching the Mystery of God (Col. 1:24-29)
- Paul’s Concern for the Colossian Believers (Col. 2:1-7)
- Paul’s Warning of and Solution to False Teaching (Col. 2:8-23)
- Summary of False Teaching (Col. 2:8)
- Sufficiency of Christ’s Death and Resurrection (Col. 2:9-15)
- False Teaching Described in Greater Detail (Col. 2:16-23)
- Paul’s Description of the Christian Life (Col. 3:1-4:6)
- Foundation of the Christian Life Wrapped Up in Christ (Col. 3:1-4)
- The Mortification of Sin (Col. 3:5-11)
- The Putting On of Holiness (Col. 3:12-17)
- Description of the Christian Life in the Household (Col. 3:18-4:1)
- The Christian’s Prayer Life (Col. 4:2-4)
- The Christian’s Life before the World (Col. 4:5-6)
- Final Words (Col. 4:7-18)
- Comments regarding Paul’s Companions (Col. 4:7-14)
- Final Greetings to the Brethren and the Benediction (Col. 4:15-18)
Extracted from: Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible Notes(Beeke, Joel R. 2015. Reformation Heritage Books).