Paul (1.1,23, 4.18), from Roman prison, probably AD 61-62. He has never personally gone to Colosse (2.1), but he knows them well enough to call them one of his churches through the work of Epaphras.
Predominantly Gentile Church of Colosse, struggling with syncretism (distorting the gospel by blending other philosophies with Christianity).
A blend of Jewish & Gnostic heretical teachings is prevalent in the culture, denying the divinity of Christ and demanding asceticism (abstinence from worldly pleasures). Animism (belief in personalized, supernatural beings that often inhabit ordinary animals and objects, governing their existence) was a common belief of the culture. The average Colosse citizen greatly feared evil spirits, and therefore called on angels for protection.
Counter Jewish & Gnostic heresies by demonstrating the superiority of Christ and how humility is greater than asceticism. Death and life in Christ is everything, following rules is nothing.
How to Read it
Trace Paul’s development of the supremacy of Christ. This letter arrived at the same time as the Philemon Epistle – read them together and note how Paul uses the book of Colossians to create reception for Onesimus in the church at large. In fact, a church meets at Philemon’s house! The “false teaching” that Paul speaks of is never specifically labeled – maintain an understanding of the heretical philosophies circulating Colosse, yet predominantly allow Paul to put “false teaching” into his own terms.
I. Salutation & Prayer (1.1-23)
II. Paul’s Ministry (1.24-2.5)
III. Human Rules vs. Life with Christ (2.6-4.6)
IV. Closing Greetings (4.7-18)
Colossians presents the superiority of Jesus and a humble life of following Him to counter apposing religions that demand religious rules and withdrawal from normal life. Great for encouragement when feeling intimidated by belief systems that contradict Jesus.