Paul's Letter to Colossae


This letter was written to the church at Colossae – about 100 miles / 160 km inland from the port of Ephesus in the Roman province of Asia – in c.61AD while Paul was under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial (see Map 27). Although little remains today, in Roman times, Colossae was an important city on the banks of the River Lycos (near the modern town of Honaz).

Paul had probably never visited the church which, like the nearby churches in Laodicea and Hierapolis, was established by Epaphras (see Colossians 1:7, 4:12-13 and Map 29). Paul nevertheless felt responsible for the missionary activity that had resulted from his three year stay at Ephesus during his third missionary journey in 53 - 56AD (see Acts 19:10). Epaphras had travelled to Rome to seek advice from Paul. But Paul’s letter was taken back from Rome to Colossae by Tychicus (see Colossians 4:7-8) as Epaphras had been imprisoned in Rome (see Philemon 1:23).


Syria Street, Laodicea

Colossae, unlike its neighbour Laodicea (above), has yet to be excavated


It was probably taken to Colossae at the same time as the Letter to the Ephesians (see Ephesians 6:21-22) and a Letter to the Laodiceans (see Colossians 4:16). Tychicus was accompanied by Onesimus, the slave on whose behalf Paul wrote his Letter to Philemon (see Colossians 4:9 & Philemon 1:10) and who had probably been sent by Philemon to assist Epaphras on his journey to see Paul in Rome.

In this letter, Paul condemns the false teachings that are circulating in Colossae. He insists that angel worship, ‘secret’ knowledge and asceticism have no place in Christian belief, and he repeats his teaching that Gentile believers do not need to adopt Jewish religious laws or be circumcised.

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