Reflections on Paul’s letter to the Church in COLOSSAE – Introduction

Paul writes the final greeting to the Colossians with his own hand

Biblical scholars debate the overall theme of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, but let’s encapsulate Paul’s encouragement and exhortation to the church (remember the letter was also to be read in the Laodician church which was nearby Colossae), under the banner of “THE PREEMINENCE OF CHRIST” .

How do we contextually define “preeminence” – Noah Webster defines ‘preeminence’ as ‘the state of

having paramount (or ‘supreme over all others’) rank, dignity, or importance’.

To understand more clearly Paul’s sense of Christ’s preeminence, let’s look at two illustrative passages from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. The first illustrative passage reads,

“He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God [the Father], the firstborn over all creation. For by Him [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him [Jesus] and for Him [Jesus]. He [Jesus] is before all things, and in Him [Jesus] all things hold together. And He [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church; He [Jesus] is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He [Jesus] might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His [the Father’s] fullness dwell in Him [Jesus], and through Him [Jesus] to reconcile to Himself [the Father] all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His [Jesus’] blood, shed on the cross”

Colossians 1 : 15-20

Christ is preeminent over all creation because –

He is the perfect image of God [Hebrews 1: 3]

He is the revelation of God [John 1:1-18]

He is the Creator [1 Corinthians 8:6]

He is the goal of creation [Colossians 1:16]

He is eternal [Hebrews 7:3]

He is the Head of the church [Ephesians 1:22-23]

He is the firstborn from the dead – the resurrection and the life [Romans 8:29]

He is all sufficient in salvation, reconciliation and peace [2 Peter 1:3-4]

The second illustrative passage is found later in the letter to the Colossians and reads,

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 1and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.”

Colossians 2 : 9 – 10

This passage serves to reinforce two aspects of the preeminence of Christ.

Firstly, the fact of His Deity, His indissoluble fusion in the Trinity [John 1:1]. At the same time, He walked in the fullness of His humanity – in the church we call this concept the ‘hypostasis’ of Jesus Christ, which we will discuss in more detail in a later blog.

Secondly, this passage reemphasizes the fact that Christ is ‘over’, in command of, sovereign to, EVERY power and authority. HE IS PREEMINENT!

Posted on February 3, 2019

Reflecting on Paul’s Letter to the Church in Colossae

Paul writes the final greeting to the Colossians with his own hand

Most Biblical scholars agree that Paul wrote his letter to the church in Colossae (‘Ko-LOS-ee‘) around 60 A.D. during his first imprisonment in Rome.


Colossae was an ancient city in the region of Phrygia in Asia Minor (today Turkey) and was founded in the 5th century B.C. In earlier times it had been a thriving major city located on the main trade route between Greece / Macedonia and Asia. By the time of the Apostle Paul, however, the main junction had been diverted further west to the neighboring cities of Hieropolis and Laodicia in the Lycus Valley.

Historically, the town was known for its fusion of religious influences (“syncretism“) forming out of the traditions of Judaism, Gnosticism, Christianity and Paganism. Centered here, too, was an unorthodox cult that venerated the archangel Michael – it was said that Michael had called forth a curative spring to gush out from a fissure in the earth near Colossae.

Devastated by a catastrophic earthquake just a few years after the letter was sent by Paul, the city was later rebuilt by the Romans. In the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. the city of Colossae was overrun by the Saracens – Arab Muslims, on their way to conquering the old Persian Empire. The city, including it’s famous historical church, was eventually destroyed in 1193 A.D. during the Byzantine civil war, and it’s population relocated to nearby Chonae (now Honaz in Turkey).


The Church in Colossae, as well as the churches in nearby Hieropolis and Laodicia, had been established by one of Paul’s disciples and co-workers, Epaphras, who was a native of Colossae.

In around 60 A.D., Epaphras came to visit Paul in prison in Rome, and brought with him a report on the progress of the church in Colossae, as well as elaborating on some of the challenges that the churches faced from the heretical teachings of the Gnostics (see box below), Judaizers and angel worshippers. Paul’s principal purpose in writing this letter to the church in Colossae was to refute these heretical teachings. His focus was not to directly counter each false premise and argument, but to point to the all sufficiency of Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross.

Did you know that when Secret Service agents are trained to identify counterfeit notes, they spend most of their time studying the genuine article and almost no time studying counterfeits? Why?

There are many different counterfeiting techniques, some more obvious than others. New ways of counterfeiting, using emerging technologies are being introduced almost every year. Trying to keep up with the changing landscape of counterfeiting would require continual updated training – but, once you have studied and fully recognize the genuine, it becomes the litmus test for all other comparison.

Paul uses this exact same technique in his letter, by reemphasizing the genuine Gospel of Jesus the Christ, rather than refuting each heretical teaching individually.




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