Called To Be Thinking Christians
As we begin, what will be, an 8-week study of Paul's epistle to the Colossians, we will find it useful to briefly examine the context of this epistle.
This letter is written to the people living in the city of Colosse(Co-los-see)--a city in the region of Phrygia, but we know this area today as a portion of the country of Turkey.
Paul writes this letter to the Colossians from prison(4:18), but scholars are divided over which imprisonment, and subsequently what date, to ascribe to this letter. It is probable, however, that Paul wrote this letter along with his letter to Philemon while imprisoned in Rome, around 60-62 A.D.
It is also important to note that it appears that Paul had never visited Colosse, but had only heard about the church there through his fellow-worker, Epaphras(1:7, 8). It is quite possible that Epaphras is actually the founder of the Colossian church and Paul, writing with the authority of an apostle(1:1), is attempting to help Epaphras combat the doctrinal error that has crept into this community of faith.
Let me frame for you, what I think is, the goal of Paul's epistle to the Colossians. This theme, you will see in the coming weeks, is predominant throughout the entire epistle. The purpose of Paul's letter to the Colossians is simple and straightforward: Paul desires that the Colossian community become mature in the Christian faith . Paul wants the Colossians to become mature Christians so that they would be equipped to recognize and eliminate harmful doctrines and practices. As we move through this text today then, expect to learn from Paul what some of the keys to Christian maturity are.
After greeting the Colossians in his typical fashion, Paul does something very wise--he compliments the Colossian community. For those of us who like to offer corrective advice and constructive criticism, we have, from Paul, an excellent model.
Before telling the Colossian people what they should work on, Paul does three things: First of all, Paul expresses his thankfulness for the Colossians (v.3); secondly, Paul explains to the Colossian people that they are constantly in his prayers (v.3), and thirdly, Paul encourages the Colossians --he compliments them for their "