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The Blue Letter Bible

Dr. J. Vernon McGee :: Notes for Colossians

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WRITER: Paul (Colossians 1:1)

DATE: About A.D. 62

CHURCH AT COLOSSE: Paul had never been to Colosse when he wrote this epistle (Colossians 2:1). He was in Ephesus for about two years where he had his most fruitful ministry (Acts 19:8-19). Colosse was 75 to 100 miles east of Ephesus, and visitors from Colosse had heard Paul and had come to know Christ. Apparently Philemon was one of these. A church came into existence in Colosse (Philemon 2), and Epaphras was the minister (Colossians 1:4-8; 4:12, 13). Paul intended to visit there when he was released from prison (Philemon 22). Paul wrote to this church as though it were his own.

PROBLEM AT COLOSSE: Colosse, located in southwest Phrygia in Asia Minor near Laodicea, was beset with oriental mysticism. Gnosticism had evidently intruded with its Greek pantheistic philosophy of the demiurge.

(1) They had an exclusive spirit (were aristocratic in wisdom). Col. 1:28
(2) They held speculative tenets on creation — that God did not create the universe directly, but created a creature who in turn created another creature, until one finally created the physical universe. Christ was considered a creature in this long series of creations. Col. 1:15-19; 2:18
(3) Their ethical practice was asceticism (influenced by Greek Stoicism) and unrestrained licentiousness (from Greek Epicureanism). Col. 2:1623

Col. 3:5-9

MESSAGE OF COLOSSIANS: Colossians is the chart and compass that enable the believer to sail between the ever-present Scylla and Charybdis. “Pure Christianity lives between two dangers ever present: the danger that it will evaporate into a philosophy — philosophies of the atonement…and the danger that it will freeze into a form” (Dr. Scofield). Jesus said that He is the water of life. He did not say that He was the ice of life; He did not say that He was the steam of life. We are not told to add something to Christ nor to subtract from Him.
The message of this epistle can best be seen by comparing it with other prison epistles.

Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon

Subject: Ephesians the body of believers, called the church, of which Christ is the Head
Colossians the Head of the body who is Christ; the body is only secondary (Colossians 1:18)
Theme: Philippians Christian living is the theme and the periphery of the circle where Christ is the center.
Colossians Christ is the theme and the periphery of the circle where Christian living is the center.

Philippians emphasizes the kenosis — Christ became a Servant (Philippians 2:7).
Colossians emphasizes the pleroma — Christ is the fullness of God (Colossians 2:9).
“Thou, O Christ, art all I want; more than all in Thee I find” (Charles Wesley).

Outline for Philippians ← Prior Section
Outline for Colossians Next Section →
Notes for Philippians ← Prior Book
Notes for 1 Thessalonians Next Book →
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