Authorship and Audience

As described in the first two verses of this book, the Apostle Paul wrote this book to the believers in Colossae. This letter was also to be passed on the to the believers in Laodicea to be read there and a letter which was also sent to Laodicea was to be read by the Colossians (see 4:16).

Date and Context

We know that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter (see 4:10 and 18), but are not certain from which imprisonment he was writing. Many scholars have argued that this book was written during Paul's Roman imprisonment, but there are others who disagree. Regardless of when this was written, we know that Colossae was being inundated with false teaching(s) that celebrated the worship of Angels, asceticism, and keeping the traditions of man.


  • Christ's Authority Over All Things. One of the underlying principles throughout the book of Colossians is that Christ has authority over everything. Be it the dominion of darkness (1:13), creation (1:15), the Church (1:18 and 2:19), every rule and authority (2:10 and 15), the "elementary principles of the world" (2:20), or cultural, ethnic, racial, social divisions (3:11 and 4:9), Christ has authority and power over it. Throughout this book, Paul will discuss the implications of Christ's authority as it relates to everything from the worship of angels (2:18) to the everyday life of a Roman family (3:18 - 4:1).


0. Introduction and Greeting [1:1-14]

I. Who is Christ? [1:15-23]

A. Christ's Authority as it relates to... everything [1:15-20]

B. Christ's Authority as it relates to Paul and the Colossians [1:21-23]

II. Paul's Labor for Christ and the Gentiles [1:24 - 2:7]

III. Christ's Authority Versus... [2:8-23]

A. Philosophy and the traditions of man [2:8-12]

B. Our sins and "certificate of death" [2:13-14]

C. Rulers and authorities who stood against Christ [2:15]

D. Legalism/Adherence to Mosaic law [2:16-17]

E. "Self-abasement and the worship of angels" [2:18-19]

F. Asceticism [2:20-23]

IV. Resurrection Living (or: Living in Light of Christ's Authority) [3:1 - 4:6]

V. Personal Greetings and Conclusion [4:7-18]


  • When Christ is called the "firstborn" ("πρωτότοκος") of all creation and of the dead, it is not suggesting that Christ is a created being who was born at some point in the past. It is instead underscoring Christ's headship and preeminence. This is evidenced by the fact that the phrase "firstborn" is used of the Messiah in Psalm 89:27 and indirectly in Psalm 2:7. Hebrews 1:1-14 is in many ways a parallel passage with Colossians 1:15-20, and Hebrews 1:4-6 refers to Christ as both "son" (quoting Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14) and "firstborn".

  • Colossians 2:16-17 provides a descriptive image that highlights the authority and preeminence of Christ. Paul first points out that things like keeping the Sabbath, celebrating new-moon sacrifices and festivals, and keeping regulations regarding food and drink are all a "shadow of what is to come". The "substance", that is the object of which the shadow is indicative, is Christ. All of the legal regulations provided in the Old Testament were a "shadow" that ultimately points to Christ. This means that Christ is what is significant and not the keeping of the Old Testament regulations.

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