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Alternate Lecture on: NT 600 New Testament Survey - The Letter to the Colossians

Alternate Lecture on: NT 600 New Testament Survey

The Letter to the Colossians

by Timothy Kenney, PhD

St. Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote his letter to the church at Colosse. The year was about 60 A.D. and it was the first generation of the Christian church. In the 30 odd years since the death of Christ, Christianity had spread through the entire Roman world. Epapharus seems to have been the leader of the church at Colosse (Colossians 1:7). Epapharus went to Rome to discuss with St. Paul heresies that had risen in this church.

Chapter One of Colossians is crucial to Pauline theology, and truly one of the more important passages in the New Testament. The hymn of Colossians 1:14-19 speaks of the cosmic role of Christ. This key passage also links Christ and the Church, calling Christ the Head of His Body the Church, reminding one of 1 Corinthians 12:12 and Ephesians 1:22-23. The concept of joining our suffering with that of Christ is alluded to in Colossians 1:24. St. Paul speaks of "the mystery hidden for ages and generations" in Colossians 1:24-27, linking the Redemption with His Body, the Church, the "hope for glory." He summarizes his role and that of Christianity in Colossians 1:28, "Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ."

Colossians 2:12-14 presents the same thought on Baptism as Romans 6:4. Chapter 3 presents moral teaching, as well as advice for the Christian family. Chapter 4 is of historical importance, as St. Paul passes on greetings from both Sts. Mark and Luke, two of the four writers of the Gospels.

Like the other letters of St. Paul, the letter to Colossians is read in its turn in the liturgical services of the Church.

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A general outline is provided below:

1:1-1:2 ---------- Salutation
1:3-1:14 --------- Paul Thanks God for the Colossians
1:15-1:23 -------- The Supremacy of Christ
1:24-2:5 --------- Paul's Interest in the Colossians

2:6-2:19 --------- Fullness of Life in Christ
2:20-2:23 -------- Warnings against False Teachers

3:1-3:17 --------- The New Life in Christ
3:18-4:1 --------- Rules for Christian Households

4:2-4:6 ---------- Further Instructions
4:7-4:18 --------- Final Greetings and Benediction

We now turn to St. Paul's two letters to the Thessalonians in our next article in this series.

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Bibliography:

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