Posted by: Moses | June 7, 2006

Colossians 1:1-2

Paul wrote Colossians around 60 AD, from a Roman prison cell. Colassae was a decently sized city located on a trading route smack in the center of Asia Minor. It was about five miles east of Laodaecia, thus the cyclical nature of the letter would have been easy to complete (4:16). Due to the similarities with the letter to the Ephesians, some one hundred miles away, probably around this time certain teachers were going throughout this large section of Asia Minor and preaching a non-gospel. This agospel added a variety of pagan rituals mixed with Jewish tradition as a workload required for Salvation. They advocated a worship of angels and may have described Christ as simply a messenger from God, using him as an argument for why angels should be worshipped, hence the major emphasis on Christ’s unique deity very similar to Hebrews. There also seems to have been a major break down in the cohesive family of the church and the purity of the saints.

Colossians 1:1-2

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

To the Saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

In verse one Paul quickly established his authority as directly from Jesus Christ; he was sent and commissioned directly by Christ to preach the gospel (Gal. 1:11-24). God sent him; he seems to relish this fact and brings it up whenever he can. He does what he does because God wants him too. God’s will was to ransom Paul out of the depths of persecuting the church, and catapult him into a glorious ministry. Probably everyone reading this owes his salvation in some way to the ministry of Paul. What grace was lavished upon him, and upon us as a result. Paul chucks Timothy, probably the chief elder of the Ephesian church at this point, in as a co-author of Colossians with his ubiquitous emphasis on the brotherhood of the Way.

They address their epistle in a slightly peculiar way by sending it only to the saints and faithful brethren in Colossae. This seems to narrow his focus more than most of Paul’s rebuking epistles; they are only intending this letter to be heard and heeded by the faithful brothers in Colossae. The word saints may also be more pejorative than usual, considering the fact that later on in chapter 3 he is going to encourage the brothers specifically in the matter of purity, probably in response to an antinomian (lawlessness as a false result of supposed grace) sect within the church there. The word saint is simply a substantive adjective of the word pure, “pure ones.” This distinction is very interesting, even in 60 AD Paul realizes and is addressing the fact that within a body that is called a “church” (The term he uses in his greetings) there are true faithful, pure saints and there are unfaithful, impure heretics who are hanging around Colossae. In this case he and Timothy are fighting for the souls of this church that had not yet fallen into heresy, encouraging them to stand strong in the true gospel that they had been established in. Perhaps, as in the case of the Corinthian and Galatian churches, the heresy would later be dealt with directly, but here they seem to flavor the entire book with this purpose: the encouragement of the faithful saints. As a result Colossians seems very parallel in purpose to Philippians, even though structurally it is incredibly linked to the didactic content of Ephesians. It makes a nice hybrid, using doctrine to encourage steadfast perseverance in the face of heresy.

Finally, Paul offers a brief prayer for the Colossians, expressing his desire that God would lavish his grace upon the faithful Colossians. Paul of course emphasizes the origin of both the grace and peace that he desires for the Colossians. He is calling to their remembrance the essence of the gospel, reminding them, and dragging them back to the cross that bought that grace and peace, reminding them that they are a gift from God. Inserting Paul’s language of grace from 1:29, and the description of cross-bought peace from 1:19-20, he is probably expressing something along these lines, “May you stand fast with all God’s power that he will lavish upon you, keeping you pure, firmly in the center of the peace that Christ bought between fallen creation and the Godhead.” May it be so for us as well as we face antinomianism and faithless additions to the gospel in our day.

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  1. =^)


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