The letter is addressed to a community in Colosse, located in Asia Minor near Laodicea (see Rev 3:14–22) and belongs to the four so-called prison letters (Eph, Col, Phil. Philemon).

The church in Colosse was established by Epaphras (1:7) and most if not all her members were the Gentile Christians. When and where the letter was written is difficult to say. According to the traditional opinion the letter would have been written between 59–63 CE from the Roman imprisonment. But, there are also others who suggest that it was written from Ephesus or even Caesarea. Based on Philemon 1:23, both Paul and Epaphras were imprisoned together and from him, the Apostle got the news about the situation of the Church.

There were mainly two problems that appeared within the community that undermined the centrality of Christ.

  1. The so-called Judaizantes - Christinas of Jewish origins - were directing the community to embrace certain Jewish practices (2:16). The same problem was present in Galatia (Gal 1:6–10; 5:2) and Rome (Rom 14:1–8).
  2. Greek philosophical speculations (2:8) about “principalities and powers” standing between God and humans and identified with the angels of the Old Testament (2:15.18). It seems that the community had been distracted from worshipping Christ by worshipping angels. They accepted a popular belief that those angels - principalities and powers - have an impact on human life, and even that they can reveal special hidden mysteries.

Paul’s answer is clear: Christ is the center of Church’s worship. In Him all was created, He has primacy over everything, and if Christians want to know the mysteries of God they need to turn to Him (Col 1:15–28).

The letter has a very simple structure:

  1. Introduction 1:1–14;
  2. Dogmatic part 1:15–2:23. This part sets before the Colossians the primacy of Christ. He had defeated those principalities and powers by His death on the Cross. The Church has been freed from the influence of all those principalities and powers and placed under the Lordship of Christ.
  3. Catechetical part 3:1–4:6. This part shows the requirements of new life in Christ. It speaks about proper relationships between believers, and a call to prayer and vigilance.
  4. The ending 4:7–18. This part contains Paul’s greetings, a request that this letter should be also read in Laodicea, and final (very short) blessing.

The main message of the letter is clear. Christians who through baptism begin new life in Christ are the members of the Church that is under the Lordship of Jesus. There is no division into the Jews and the Gentiles. They are all one people of God redeemed by Christ. Faith in Christ also sets them free from superstitious pagan worship, fear of spiritual beings that supposed to control human life, and wrong ascetic practice that has nothing to do with true perfection (Col 2:20–23).

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