Colossians is Paul’s letter to the church in Colossae, a city in the region of Phrygia in modern-day Turkey. Colossae was under Roman control during the time of Paul, and Paul’s letter to the Colossians was written while he was in a Roman prison for preaching the Gospel.
Colossians is unique in that Paul had never visited Colossae and had no direct role in establishing the church there. The church was started by Epaphras, one of Paul’s coworkers, who was from Colossae (Colossians 1:7-8, 4:12-13).
Paul wrote this letter after a visit from Epaphras, who updated Paul on the current state of the church. The believers were remaining faithful, and the church was growing, but the people lived in a city with a lot of cultural and religious pressures that could tempt them to turn away from Jesus. Paul acknowledges and celebrates the steadfast faith of the Colossians and challenges them to a deeper devotion to Jesus, despite these outside pressures.
Paul begins by thanking God for the church and then talking about who Christ is. Paul focuses on Christ’s supremacy over all creation (Colossians 1:15-20). He reminds the Colossians that by Christ’s death and resurrection, He has brought forth a new creation—believers who have been reconciled to God and given the task of sharing this Good News.
Paul goes on to explain that although he is suffering in prison, he considers it a joy to suffer because he is doing so on behalf of Christ (Colossians 1:24). He explains to the Colossians that they, too, will endure suffering if they continue to remain faithful to Jesus and boldly proclaim His Gospel.
Most of the Colossian Christians were once pagans who worshiped Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. Paul exhorts them to resist both of these influences and remain rooted in the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:6-230), by which believers have died to their old selves and been raised to new life in Christ.
Paul commands believers to put to death their old, sinful ways and to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:10).
Believers are encouraged to reflect the character of Christ—His compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience—by forgiving those who have wronged them, living at peace with one another, encouraging one another, praising God with songs, working hard at whatever God has called them to do and being thankful (Colossians 3:12-17).
Paul also gives instructions for how Christian households and business relationships should be maintained (Colossians 3:18-25).
Paul ends his letter with a final message of encouragement to the church and thanks the church leaders, including Epaphras. He also encourages the church to share this letter with other churches, namely the church in Laodicea (Colossians 4:16).
The supremacy of Christ: Paul writes a poem about the Messiah in Colossians 1:15-20, which sets the stage for the rest of the letter. Throughout Colossians, Paul emphasizes that Jesus is the supreme authority over the church, all people and all of creation (including the whole cosmos). And because of His supreme authority, His Gospel and grace alone are sufficient for our salvation.
Remaining faithful to the Gospel: Paul’s letter also emphasizes the importance of remaining faithful to Christ because of the sufficiency of the Gospel. Paul reminds the church that although there will be pressures on every side to follow things other than Jesus (like other religions, our own desires or other people), Jesus is the only One who gives us a new, abundant, eternal life.
HOW DOES THIS FIT INTO GOD’S STORY?
Colossians show us there will be temptation to believe in spiritual entities other than Jesus or to add extra rules and stipulations to the Gospel. However, Christ is supreme. There is nothing else in this world like Him, and it is only by remaining faithful to Him that we can withstand the pressures of the world and live lives that are holy and pleasing to God.
In Christ, the old way of life is gone and a new life has come.