The Epistles Analyzed: Colossians


He was in bonds – 4:3

Was sending back Onesimus from Rome

Luke and Demas with him; from Phil 4:22 we know he was in Rome. Likely one of his four prison epistles; written from Rome under house arrest (Acts 28).


It was located about 100 miles east of Ephesus. It was of lesser significance than two neighboring cities – Laodicea and Hierapolis (4:13). The city was in decline when Paul wrote to it; it had known earlier times of great commercial importance. The population was made up of Greeks, colonists, Phrygians, and Jews.

Threat they faced

Their Commencement – since we heard of your faith
Their Confirmation – the love to all the saints
Their Continuance – brings forth fruit
Their Consummation – the hope
Their Consistency – joying and beholding your order (ch 2:5)
Their Challenge – the false doctrine

False teachers under the guise of piety were introducing error into the teaching. They claimed to have reached higher spiritual levels beyond the results of Paul’s teaching. It was based on false sanctity, neglecting the body (ch 2:23), and their outward show of piety. It was sensual and did not have any effect on the flesh (ch 2:23).

Doctrinal error – ch 2 and four dangerous men
Deportment error – ch 3 and seven distinct spheres|
Dereliction issue – ch 4 and ten diligent servants


Expressed by the four dangerous men of ch 2:

The Plausible Man with his Enticing Language – beguile
The Philosophical Man with his Ensnaring Logic – capture and kidnap
The Pharisaical Man with his Enslaving Laws – judge and condemn
The Presumptuous Man with his Exclusive Light – intimidate

There were several different doctrines beginning to take shape and invading Colosse: very possibly they were all part of one system.

Gnostic teaching – Greek philosophy is the beginning of Gnosticism. Intermediaries needed between man and God, and the demoting of Christ to one of those stations. The exclusivity of possession of knowledge by a privileged few (and not every man ch 1); salvation through knowledge and not by faith. Eventually this would morph into the idea that matter was evil and that Christ could not have had a real body. It denied the deity of Christ.

Ascetic teaching – linked with practices of negative living – what you did not do rather than what you did do

Judaistic teaching – mixing law and grace: foods, feasts, form (circumcision)


The Deity of Christ
The Lordship of Christ
The Sufficiency of Christ
The Service of Christ


ch 3:11 Christ is all and in all – see below


He is Head over all – three distinct spheres; Beyond Comparison
Creation, The Church His Body, and Head Over all Things

He is Sufficient – Beyond all Shortages and Supplements

He is Lord – Beyond any other Control

He is Worthy – Beyond any other Master

Terms we will encounter

All – look for it perhaps 10x in ch 1
Wisdom 6x
Make known

Thanksgiving which punctuates the epistle

When truth is assailed, God does not expect us to be only on the defensive but to be worshiping and maintaining a thankful spirit.

Look at all we are to give thanks for: 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15, 17; 4:2

Texture or Structure of the Epistle

ch 1:1-3:4 Christ is All – providing for, and being all for every need
ch 3:5-4:18 And in All – permeating and controlling every relationship

ch 1 Contemplation of the Supreme Person
ch 2 Confirmation of the Sufficient Provision
ch 3 Consideration of our Spiritual Position
ch 4 Consecration to a Scriptural Service

ch 1 One Distinctive Man
ch 2 Four Dangerous Men
ch 3 Seven Defined Roles
ch 4 Ten Devoted Servants

ch 1 The Glory of the Person and Position Established
ch 2 The Greatness of the Provision Expounded
ch 3 The Governing Principles Expressed
ch 4 The Godliness in Practice Exhibited

The Threshold of the Epistle

ch 1:1, 2

In the Heart of the Apostle – His Regard for them
In the Hand of Christ – their Relationship to Him
In the Pathway of Divine Favor – their Resources
In the City of Colosse – their Responsibility