Colossians Commentary, Summary, and Key Verses


There is no record of Paul ever visiting the Colossians church (2:1). This gives further testimony to the fact that Paul’s epistles (letters) were meant to be circulated and read to all churches (4:16).  This church was actually founded by Papayas, an earlier convert who came from Ephesus.

 Ephesus was a veritable launching pad for all the churches in Asia Minor(Acts 19:10).    The founder of this church was Epaphras who, ironically, joined Paul in prison and told him of all the false teachings infiltrating the church as Colossae (Acts 28,Col4:12, 13).

  This might explain why Paul wanted the Colossians to know that Jesus Christ was not created and that He was fully God and in Jesus deity.  Some false churches today teach this very same thing.

Paul wanted the church to grow in the knowledge of God and sought prayerful support from them.  Paul also answered questions about the sufficiency in Christ due to false teaching that emphasized asceticism and angel worship. A deeper life in Christ was one of thanksgiving to God for growing in His grace and knowledge.

A strong faith and love emulates from the hope that believers have; a hope in our heavenly destination.

  The will of God and having a deeper life in Christ is to be living a life worthy of the Lord and to exalt Christ above all things created; that Jesus reigns over all His creation and those Whom He redeemed.

  A deeper life in Christ includes the striving toward perfection and moving beyond the rudimentary teachings of the gospel.   an athlete trains for their sport so Christians ought to strive by great effort to be more and more Christ.

There is no doubt that Paul was also soliciting the Colossians prayers on his behalf.  This is a lesson for all Christians to support their church leadership in prayer for they are often doing a quite, lonely job of leading the church and have spiritual attacks more frequently and in greater intensity than most.

Living by the world’s rules or the law gives an outward appearance of wisdom but living by the Spirit in union with Christ is acknowledging Christ’s work on the cross that snatches us from death in our sins and brings us to life eternal in Christ.

    Living the inner life in Christ is the opposite of living the outer life of the works.  Religion is not what Jesus d…it is not about religion but about a relationship.  Worldly philosophers deceive but true wisdom is found in Christ.

  Believers are now identified with Christ and have no need for legalism.  We are to put on Christ and Christ- virtues and have to have disdain for the values that the world esteems most.  Paul wanted them to understand that they were already accepted by God and that they needed only Christ.

  Because of their union with Christ; in His death and resurrection, they are already “filled in Him” (1:22, 23, 28).

The focus should now be on the heavenly things and not on things from below.  The old man has died and a new life in Christ exists inside of us and is absolutely secure.  This should produce an inner tranquility and peace should be foremost in the believers mind.

  The old man was full of evil inside lust, greed, immorality, slander, foul language, anger, revenge, and hatred.  The new self should be a total makeover and be fully renewed to reflect Jesus Christ.

  This includes the inner attitudes and actions reflecting kindness, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and unity with love being at the center of all of these Christ- virtues.

The “outer life” is driven by the inner life in Christ and is made manifest to the world and to believers.  One of these outer attributes is submission; to authority, to spouses, to the church leadership, and first and foremost to Jesus Christ Who is the Head of all and of the church.

  The willing submission is to be done with all sincerity.  It is done primarily for the Lord and not for humans.

  Whoever God has ordained as our leaders are those who we should be in submission to for to be in submission to them is to be in submission as to the Lord for He has placed them there for our benefit and the benefit of society.

Colossians Summary

False teachings had become so systemic in the church at Colossae that Paul devoted much of the letter to the sufficiency of Christ and Christ alone (2:8-23).  The contrast was the emptiness of human tradition and the fullness that is found in Jesus Christ (2:11-15).  Renewal comes for our victory in Jesus Christ (2:11-15).

  This victory brings freedom from the Law and from Asceticism, which is simply outward works that is actually a form of self-righteousness (2:16-23).  This church the present church is to be about the business of putting off the old humanity and putting on the new life in Christ (3:1-17).  Our basis for obedience is our union in the Lord, in His death, and in His life (3:1-4).

  The old man is to die and the new life is in Jesus Christ (3:5-8).

Having a life devoted and dedicated to prayer is a critical element of our spiritual growth which affects the outer life of the believer.  Paul wanted prayer for him to have open doors for the gospel to be presented and in the same manner we should be praying for our church and ourselves to have open doors so that we can share the gospel as well.

Christians should realize that the world is watching and if we are not living Christ-centered lives we can hurt the cause of the gospel and of Christ.  Our words, behavior, and our service should speak volumes of the grace of Christ that is in us.

  The most important lesson for me in Colossians was that of a Christian living a life that is Christ-.  Paul dedicates an enormous amount of his letter to the Colossians about how Christians are to live; from the inner life in Christ to the outer life in Christ.

  This reveals that a believer’s life is systemically inside and outside to reflect the life of Jesus Christ and thank God that it is possible only by the power of the Holy Spirit.

This encompasses the believer’s prayer life, their public life, their private life, and having a deep, abiding dedication to thanksgiving.  This life should glorify God because it is God in us that is the sole cause for such a radical transformation.  It’s a complete metamorphosis; a chrysalis to a butter fly; a dead corpse to a glory-bearing saint.

Paul was clear that Jesus is not created but the Creator and reigns over all creation (1:15-17).  This makes Him the Head over re-creation and reconciliation (1:18-20).  The purpose of this reconciliation is plainly through Him and not of ourselves (1:21-23).  He is preeminent over all and He is recreating a new creature in us.

Colossians Key Verses

Colossians 1:3  “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.”

Colossians 1:10 “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”

Colossians 1:13-14 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:15-16 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.”

Colossians 1:21-22 “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

Colossians 2:12 “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

Colossians 2:16 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”

Colossians 3:1 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Colossians 3:5-6 “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”

Colossians 3:13-14 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

Colossians 3:18-21 “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

Colossians 4:2-4 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”

Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

What is your favorite Bible verse from the book of Colossians? Share it in the comments!


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Colossians, Epistle to the

Next (Colossus of Rhodes)

The Epistle to the Colossians is a book of the Bible's New Testament. Although its authorship is disputed, the book is traditionally believed to be written by the Apostle Paul and his disciple, Timothy, to the church in Colossae.

It is particularly concerned with combating a false teaching which had affected the Colossian church, apparently an early form of ascetic Gnosticism, possibly Jewish in character, which emphasized spiritual speculation about the higher powers, angels, and “wisdom.

” The writer(s) urged the Colossians to remain focused on Christ, whom he characterized as “before all things.”

Colossians represents an example of “high Christology,” in which Jesus is presented not only as the risen savior, but also as the complete Incarnation of God and primary agent of creation.

The letter was also significant for its rejection of asceticism and its setting forth a list of angelic orders—”thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers”—each of which became a subject of later speculation.

It may also have been a model for the later Epistle to the Ephesians, which deals with several of its themes and apparently borrows several of its phrases.

Portrait of Saint Paul by RembrandtMedieval map of Asia Minor shows Phrygia to the west of Galatia and north of the Maeander River (click to enlarge)

Purpose and authorship

The author had apparently received disturbing information about a false teaching which affected the church at Colossae, a city in the Roman province of Phrygia, on the ancient Lycus River, a tributary of the Maeander. It was situated about 12 miles north of Laodicea, near the great road from Ephesus to the Euphrates. The site, located in what is now Anatolia in Turkey, has not been excavated.

The gospel was taught to the Colossians by Epaphras (1:4-8), about whom little is known other than that Paul describes him as a “fellow prisoner” in the Epistle to Philemon.

A large part of the letter is directed against teachers who attempted to combine mystical doctrines, asceticism, and Jewish practices with Christianity, thereby promising believers a higher spiritual life and a deeper insight into the world of spiritual beings.

While traditionally attributed to Paul, disagreements exist over such things as language, style, and the presence or absence of characteristic Pauline concepts. A substantial number of critical scholars, as well as the vast majority of traditionalists, do ascribe it to Paul, however.

Paul's authorship is also affirmed by many of the church's early key figures such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius of Caesaria.

As with many of Paul's letters, it is avowedly written not only by Paul, but also by Timothy, his disciple, who may have acted as scribe and contributed some of his own thought to this particular epistle.

Arguing against Pauline authorship is a “high” Christology in which Christ, rather than his Heavenly Father, is the supreme agent of creation.

In addition the doctrine of the Incarnation is more clearly developed than in the undisputed Pauline letters. Many see a close connection between Colossians and Ephesians, which seems to borrow various phrases and concepts from it.

Scholarly opinion regarding the authorship of the two epistles generally falls into one of three categories:

  • Both Colossians and Ephesians are genuine letters of Paul
  • Colossians is from Paul, but Ephesians is not
  • Neither of the letters is from Paul

In terms of date, if the letter is genuine, then its date is estimated to be either around 54-56 C.E., written from Ephesus; or around 59-62 from Rome.

If it is not from Paul, then its date depends on when the false teaching against which the author writes became a problem.

Since the heresy appears to be an early form of Gnosticism, the date in this case is usually estimated at sometime after Paul's death and the close of the first century.


The letter is addressed from Paul and Timothy to the “brothers in Christ at Colossae.” The writer, presumably Paul, expresses pleasure at the faith of the Colossian church, about which he has heard from Epaphras.

Paul prays for the Colossians to receive “spiritual wisdom” so that they might “share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

” Believers must remain focused on Christ, who is the creator of all things, “whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: All things were created by him, and for him.” Moreover, “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.

” Christ is the head of the “body” which is the church. Against the docetist heresy—which claimed that Christ was a purely spiritual being—the writer affirms that Jesus' “physical body” indeed died, in order to reconcile believers to God. (Chapter 1)

Fifteenth century vision of “The Assumption of the Virgin” by Francesco Botticini, portrays a host of angelic beings

The author is concerned that “no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments” or “take you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy.” He emphasizes that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.

” Christ also provides spiritual circumcision to believers, who were “buried with him in baptism and raised with him” from the dead through faith.

Therefore, believers should not allow themselves to be judged by anyone on the basis of such things as the proper celebration of various feasts and sabbath days.

Nor should Christians be tempted by such traditions as the veneration of angels, for such practices are idle speculation and spiritual pride. Ascetic practices should also be rejected. Those who engage in such restraints may have the appearance of wisdom, but there is no real value in their “false humility and their harsh treatment of the body” (Chapter 2).

Although such teachers pretend heavenly knowledge, their minds are actually focused on the earth, rather than on Christ. Those who share in the Christian life must “put to death” the earthly nature, especially as expressed in “sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.

” They must also show kindness and compassion toward one another: “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Their lives should be filled with gratitude, thanksgiving, and spiritual songs.

Wives must submit to their husbands, husbands in turn should love their wives, children should submit to their parents, and Fathers must not discourage their children, slaves must obey their masters, and masters should not abuse their slaves (Chapter 3).

Finally, a Christian's life should be full of prayer and thanksgiving. Tychicus, the author states, would be the bearer of the letter, and he will inform the Colossians of the state of the Apostle (4:7-9).

Accompanying him will be Onesimus, the escaped slave who had been converted to Christianity by Paul and may now be returning to his master, Philemon, in Colossae. Greetings were sent from several persons with Paul, including Epaphras, Mark, Luke, and Justus.

Paul directed the church to exchange this letter with an earlier one (now lost) that he had been sent to the neighboring Laodicean Church. He then closes the epistle with a salutation in his own hand.


Theologically, the letter to the Colossians is important for two main reasons.

First, more than any other “Pauline” letter except Ephesians, it is characterized by a “high Christology,” in which Jesus is not only the risen Messiah, but also the person by whom all things were made, and in whom “the fullness of God” is incarnate.

These verses became key proof texts in the development and defense of the doctrine of the Trinity and the Incarnation. Second, Colossians is important for its rejection of mystical speculation and asceticism, especially of the Gnostic variety.

At the same time, it stimulated Christian speculation into the nature and function of angels, so that Paul's “thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers,” each became a distinct type of angelic being in Catholic tradition.

As a source of historical investigation, the implications of Colossians depends on whether one considers it truly Pauline or not.

If so, it gives an insight into a form of Christian Gnosticism which had affected the Colossian church at a relatively early date.

If not, it tells the reader more about what the churches of Phrygia faced in the late first century than during the time when Paul was still alive.


  • Bruce, F. F. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. The New international commentary on the New Testament. W.B. Eerdmans, 1984. ISBN 9780802825100
  • Furnish, Victor Paul. The Moral Teaching of Paul. Abingdon Press, 1985. ISBN 978-0687271818
  • Kiley, Mark Christopher. Colossians As Pseudepigraphy (The biblical seminar, 4). Sheffield Academic Press, 1987. ISBN 9781850750246
  • Lohse, Eduard. Colossians and Philemon; A Commentary on the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon. Fortress Press, 1971.
  • MacDonald, Margaret Y. and Daniel J. Harrington. Colossians and Ephesians. Liturgical Press, 2000. ISBN 9780814658192

External links

All links retrieved March 13, 2017.

  • Online Bible at

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Colossians Chapter 1 Summary, Audio & Text (KJV)


Paul wrote several epistles, or letters, to the various churches that he helped start and visited. His letter to the church of Colossae discusses several doctrinal issues that the people were struggling with at the time.

Colossians Chapter 1 opens with Paul’s greeting to the people at Colossae with heartfelt words. He extends blessings of grace and peace to them, and he tells them that he prays for them. Paul showed his joy for the fact that the Colossians gave heed to the word of Christ and heard the truth of the Gospel.

Paul mentions that he prayed continuously so that they would remain faithful and filled with the desire to acquire more knowledge concerning Jesus and His teachings. He prayed that they would be filled with wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual understanding. According to Paul, these attributes were important to all those who desired to follow Jesus Christ.

Paul told the people of Colossae that they needed to be strong. He referred to their willpower and the importance of being patient and willing to withstand difficult periods and trials. During those days, the disciples were going through great persecutions. As such, Paul wanted to pray for them to help them to persevere.

Paul wrote that they had to be ready to suffer with joy. He mentioned how Christ died for our sins and we should be ready to suffer for His cause. He went on to say that those who believed were all redeemed through the blood of Jesus, and their sins were forgiven. He described Jesus as being the head of the body and the rest of the body is the church to which they all belonged.

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

1 Thessalonians Chapter 1, which was addressed to the church of Thessalonica from Paul, Timothy, and Silas, starts off with a greeting of peace and love. Paul praised them for their faith and said that he remembered them for the works they had done in the name of Jesus.

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He said that their work helped him and he believed that their labor was in love and their endurance was a gift from Christ.

Paul Commends the Church

Paul called the people of the Thessalonica church brothers and sisters. He said that God deeply loved them and had chosen them for greater things. The gospel which was preached to this church was received in a great and holy way.

Paul commended the people because they not only believed the words, but they also accepted the power which came in the form of the Holy Spirit. He praised them for this and he said that he believed that their faith had kept them strong. He knew that they had done good works and he was thankful for their obedience and faithfulness in Christ.

Known All Over

Paul told the people at Thessalonica that their faith had been heard about all throughout the land, especially in Macedonia and Achaia. They were known as being very obedient and they took the Gospel well. They worked hard even through suffering.

During this time, many people who accepted Christ were persecuted, but the Thessalonians were said to have pushed through even in the midst of suffering. He said that they had been blessed by God and countless nations had heard about their faithfulness, which was an example to all.

They turned away from their idol worship and had given their lives to God. Paul said that they would be blessed and their faithfulness to Jesus Christ would be known.

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1 Thessalonians 1 (King James Version)

1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

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Epistle to the Colossians – Read the Bible Online


This summary of the book of Colossians provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of Colossians.

Author, Date and Place of Writing

That Colossians is a genuine letter of Paul (1:1) is usually not disputed. In the early church, all who speak on the subject of authorship ascribe it to Paul. In the 19th century, however, some thought that the heresy refuted in ch. 2 was second-century Gnosticism. But a careful analysis of ch.

2 shows that the heresy referred to there is noticeably less developed than the Gnosticism of leading Gnostic teachers of the second and third centuries. Also, the seeds of what later became the full-blown Gnosticism of the second century were present in the first century and already making inroads into the churches.

Consequently, it is not necessary to date Colossians in the second century at a time too late for Paul to have written the letter.

Instead, it is to be dated during Paul's first imprisonment in Rome, where he spent at least two years under house arrest (see Ac 28:16-31).

Some have argued that Paul wrote Colossians from Ephesus or Caesarea, but most of the evidence favors Rome as the place where Paul penned all the Prison Letters (Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon).

Colossians should be dated c. a.d. 60, in the same year as Ephesians and Philemon.

Colosse: The Town and the Church

Several hundred years before Paul's day, Colosse had been a leading city in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey).

It was located on the Lycus River and on the great east-west trade route leading from Ephesus on the Aegean Sea to the Euphrates River (see map, p. 2288). By the first century a.d.

Colosse was diminished to a second-rate market town, which had been surpassed long before in power and importance by the neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis (see 4:13).

What gave Colosse NT importance, however, was the fact that, during Paul's three-year ministry in Ephesus, Epaphras had been converted and had carried the gospel to Colosse (cf. 1:7-8; Ac 19:10). The young church that resulted then became the target of heretical attack, which led to Epaphras's visit to Paul in Rome and ultimately to the penning of the Colossian letter.

Perhaps as a result of the efforts of Epaphras or other converts of Paul, Christian churches had also been established in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Some of them were house churches (see 4:15; Phm 2). Most ly all of them were primarily Gentile.

The Colossian Heresy

Paul never explicitly describes the false teaching he opposes in the Colossian letter. The nature of the heresy must be inferred from statements he made in opposition to the false teachers. An analysis of his refutation suggests that the heresy was diverse in nature. Some of the elements of its teachings were:

    1. Ceremonialism. It held to strict rules about the kinds of permissible food and drink, religious festivals (2:16-17) and circumcision (2:11; 3:11).
    2. Asceticism. “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” (2:21; cf. 2:23).
    3. Angel worship. See 2:18.
    4. Depreciation of Christ. This is implied in Paul's emphasis on the supremacy of Christ (1:15-20; 2:2-3,9).
    5. Secret knowledge. The Gnostics boasted of this (see 2:18 and Paul's emphasis in 2:2-3 on Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom”).
    6. Reliance on human wisdom and tradition. See 2:4,8.

These elements seem to fall into two categories, Jewish and Gnostic. It is ly, therefore, that the Colossian heresy was a mixture of an extreme form of Judaism and an early stage of Gnosticism (see Introduction to 1 John: Gnosticism; see also note on 2:23).

Purpose and Theme

Paul's purpose is to refute the Colossian heresy.

To accomplish this goal, he exalts Christ as the very image of God (1:15), the Creator (1:16), the preexistent sustainer of all things (1:17), the head of the church (1:18), the first to be resurrected (1:18), the fullness of deity in bodily form (1:19; 2:9) and the reconciler (1:20-22).

Thus Christ is completely adequate. We “have been given fullness in Christ” (2:10). On the other hand, the Colossian heresy was altogether inadequate. It was a hollow and deceptive philosophy (2:8), lacking any ability to restrain the old sinful nature (2:23).

The theme of Colossians is the complete adequacy of Christ as contrasted with the emptiness of mere human philosophy.


  • Introduction (1:1-14)
    • Greetings (1:1-2)
    • Thanksgiving (1:3-8)
    • Prayer (1:9-14)
  • The Supremacy of Christ (1:15-23)
  • Paul's Labor for the Church (1:24;2:7)
    • His Ministry for the Sake of the Church (1:24-29)
    • His Concern for the Spiritual Welfare of His Readers (2:1-7)
  • Freedom from Human Regulations through Life with Christ (2:8-23)
    • Warning to Guard against the False Teachers (2:8-15)
    • Pleas to Reject the False Teachers (2:16-19)
    • An Analysis of the Heresy (2:20-23)
  • Rules for Holy Living (3:1;4:6)
    • The Old Self and the New Self (3:1-17)
    • Rules for Christian Households (3:18;4:1)
    • Further Instructions (4:2-6)
  • Final Greetings and Benediction (4:7-18)

From the NIV Study Bible, Introductions to the Books of the Bible, Colossians
Copyright 2002 © Zondervan. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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