Who were the Colossians? They were a church of Colosse, which was about one hundred miles to the east of Ephesus. Paul had not visited this area but had trained the man, Epaphras, who had founded the church. During his third missionary trip, Paul spent three years in Ephesus and taught others to help evangelize the area.
Colossae was a diverse community because it had been on a major trade route. By Paul’s time, the main road had moved, and Colossae had begun to decline while still a vibrant community. The church there was mostly Gentiles who had lived a pagan lifestyle before coming to Christ.
Paul and Epaphras
Paul opened his letter to Colossae, reminding the people how the Good News of Jesus had changed them. Colossians 1: 4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, 5 which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.
6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.7 You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf, 8 He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.
Paul names Epaphras as a co-worker. Epaphras seems to have visited Paul in prison with an update on the Colossian church. The people of the church had brought a pagan history with them and were trying to fit it in with the message of Jesus. Paul wrote a letter to encourage them to stay focused on Jesus and to live the new life that comes when following Jesus.
Colossians Were to Live the New Life
Paul wrote about the supremacy of Christ (1:15-20) and how this changes lives. Colossians 1: 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. 23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.
Paul then explained how to live out this new life practically. We get to glean this truth for ourselves today, for we aren’t so different from Colossae. The culture still intrudes into the church. We must keep our focus on Jesus and know who we are in His sight. Our faith must not only be theory but show practically in our lives. The letter to the Colossians helps us live new.
Who were the Colossians? To learn more, listen here: