12. Colossians

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1. Introduction. 1:1-14.

2. Polemic against Angelic Mediators. 1:15-3:4.

A. Primacy of Christ. 1:15-23.

B. The Apostle's Ministry. 1:24-2:5.

C. Center of Christian Life. 2:6-15.

D. Alien Ritual. 2:16-23.

E. The Christian Life. 3:1-4.

3. Moral Instruction. 3:5-4:6.

A. Christian Transformation. 3:5-17.

B. Household Duties. 3:18-4:1.

C. Prayer. 4:2-4.

D. Relation to Pagans0 4:5,6.

4. Personal Greetings. 4:7-18.

A. Introduction. 4:7-9.

B. Greetings from Paul's Associates. 4:10-14.

C. Final Instructions. 4:15-18.


1. Paul writes this letter from prison-most likely from Rome, although some have thought the letter might have been written from Caesarea or Ephesus.

2. Paul was living in his own rented house at Rome. It is believed that he received an inheritance from a relative about this time.

3. Epaphras was probably one of Paul's Ephesian converts. It was he, not. Paul, who founded the church at Colossae.

4. There is some evidence that the slave-philosopher, Epictetus, may have met Epaphras. Epictetus was a Stoic, but his teachings show many traces of Paul's teaching.

5. In Colossians the center of interest shifts from the work of Christ to the person of Christ.

6. The doctrine of "justification by faith" is presented in a new setting in this epistle.

7. There is much in this letter that sounds like Ephesians. This is one of the strongest reasons for believing that Paul was the author of the original Ephesians.

8. The date is probably A.D. 59 to 61.


1. The Colossians were being subjected to the forerunners of early Gnosticism.

2. Some of the errors of the Colossians:

A. Heresy about angels. "The elemental spirits of the universe." 2:8.

B. A celestial hierarchy. 1:16.

C. Asceticism.

D. Legalisms.

E. Docetic restrictions.

F. Sabbath cult. 2:16.

G. Taboos. 2:21.

H. Circumcision. 2:11.

I. Aspects of the mystery cults.

J. Greek philosophy.

K. Probably some doctrines of Plato and Philo.

Note: While there may have been some truth in the concept of angels, the basic error was that they were objects of worship-displacing Christ.

3. The chief error of this teaching was the doctrine of "angelic mediators"- many features are reflected in later doctrines of the Roman Catholic church.

4. Paul sets forth Christ as the sole mediator. And he stands far above all others. 1:16,17,18, 19.

5. Paul wants them to shun "elemental spirits" and put Christ at the head of all. 2:9.

6. Worst of all-there was a moral laxity associated with all these claims of "advanced truth."

7. Paul's answer to all this was the doctrine of the "fulness of Christ." 2:9,10.

8. Paul warned them against the "mystic visions" of the leaders of the new cult.

9. Colossians in some respects foreshadows the theology of the Gospel of John and Hebrews.


1. The divine strength. "May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy." 1:11.

2. The transcendent life. "He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." 1:13,14.

3. Infinite cohesion. "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." 1:17.

4. The incarnation. "For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell." 1:19.

5. The divine mystery. "God chose to make known how great...are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." 1:27.

6. God's mystery. "To have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, of Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." 2:2,3.

7. Deceptive doctrines. "See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily." 2:8,9.

8. Religious liberty. "Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath." 2:16.

9. Living in Christ. "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." 3:1.

10. Life hid with Christ. "And your life is hid with Christ in God." 3:3.

11. The new nature. "And have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator." 3:10.

12. Supremacy of love. "And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony." 3:14.

13. Gracious speech. "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one." 4:6.

14. Paul's fetters. "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my fetters. Grace be with you." 4:18.

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