The Church of the Stoic.
Colossians is considered the sister book of Ephesians because it focuses on Christ as being the head of the body which Ephesians said was the Church. It deals with the supremacy of Christ rather than the Holy Spirit and the gifts. Paul actually never visited the church here. It was written in 61 AD during his imprisonment in Rome, about 7 years before his death. He was either imprisoned with Timothy at this time or Timothy came to to see him and was given the letter to be delivered to Colosae.
Colosae was a city in a volcanic area. As a matter of fact during the year this book was written, the city was nearly destroyed by an earthquake. Many Jewish people had settled into the area due to persecution by Antiochus III. But before it died out, it was a diverse city. Many educated people came to Colossae to discuss the world. A group that emerged in this time period were the Stoics, those who explained the world through logic and reason, a predecessor to the Enlightenment thinkers 1700 years later. Out of this group came a sect of "Christians" called Gnostics; using astrology, mysticism, and Judaism. They claimed Christ but denied many of the things that the Apostles said Jesus did or commanded. They believed that God did not really come to earth but only seemed to appear in the flesh. Jesus was no more than an angel. God of the old testament was inferior to the God of the new testament. Man's laws did not put a bind on Christians. Some people gained "gnosis" (secret knowledge) and this knowledge outweighed the strength of faith. Hence this is heresy. The church located here did not understand that knowledge comes from the Spirit so Paul prayed for them to gain this wisdom.
Some of the main points are:
- The connection between God the Father and Jesus the Son as One. (1:15-17)
- God's ways are higher than man's and we can't comprehend everything that is done (2:6-10)
- We are not of this world and shouldn't live like we are (3:1-4)
- The Christian household and what it should be like (3"17-23)
- Prayer is a priority (4:2)
It was written to combat the false teachings of the Gnostics and stoics. The main theme is that we are united with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus is the head of the Church. But people using their own knowledge try to make the rules instead. Like the stoic and Gnostics they think they can do all by themselves when in reality they can not. Faith is important, no one can explain everything and when they can't they start to think there is no God.