Living for the Glory of God ~ Vivir para la Gloria de Dios

Colossians: The Literary Context ~ A Daily Devotion for June 25, 2014

 Colossians 2

“. . . but Christ is all, and in all.” ~ Colossians 3:11

This verse sums up the focus of Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. It’s emphasis is on Jesus Christ, setting Him as the foundation for Christlike living. With Christ as the foundation, one can live a life evident of Him and should live one that is evident of Him. With Christ as the foundation, He is the completion of the law (Matthew 5:17). With Christ as the foundation, one can stand against false teaching.

As you begin a study and devotion of the book of Colossians, it is important to understand both the literary and historical context. There is some overlap between the two, but today, the primary focus is the literary context, while tomorrow we will look at the historical situation.

The letter identifies Paul as the author (1:1 and 4:8) and there is little dispute of this. Even the early church fathers generally accepted this as true. This is because the literary style, grammar, and linguistics overlap with other Pauline writings. In fact, there is a very close relation to the epistle to Philemon in the literary style. The letter is also part of the four prison epistles (with Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon) and therefore, must have been written somewhere between AD 60-62).

It can be divided into two parts, with chapters one and two focusing on Christology and chapters three and four focused on living a Christian life. The letter was written in order to address false teachings that were making it into the city and even more into the church at Colossae. Therefore, the letter is filled with truths to counteract these false teachings. This includes words against philosophy (2:8), human wisdom and tradition (2:3, 23), ascetic practices (2:23), and legalism within the Jewish law context, such as circumcision, food consumption and festivals (2:11, 16; 3:11). In order to counteract this false teaching, Paul spends much time discussing Jesus Christ, and it is for this reason that He is the emphasis within the letter. It can be summed up by the last part of Colossians 3:11 that is written above indicating “Christ is all, and in all.”

Before you finish up today, I would urge you to once again read through the entire book of Colossians. You may visit yesterday’s posting for the complete text in the English Standard Version. However, I would once again urge you to also read it in another translation and just like yesterday make notes about the text; things you find interesting, other areas that are hard to understand, theological points you may see, or even how the text relates to other parts of the book or other parts of Scripture. Enjoy it and have fun going through it!

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