As we looked at the literary context yesterday, today the goal is to look at the historical context of Colossians. While there is not much that is needed to be known here, there are some things to know. During the time of writing, the area consisted of primarily gentile believers, although there was a large population of Jewish people in the area because Antiochus the Great transported many Jewish settlers there during his reign in 223-187 BC. Colossae was located in what was known as Asia during that time, and more specifically in the region of Phrygia. It was also very near the city of Laodicea. At one time, the city boasted a large economy consisting mostly from textiles, and specifically wool. Thus, it was considered to be a city of great importance during the fourth and third centuries before the life of Christ. However, the primary trading route that converged in Colossae was moved, and the city began to decline. Therefore, by the time Paul writes to the church, the city was of little importance to most people.
Despite being of little importance, the Lord’s work was still being done in Colossae. Being founded by Epaphras who is mentioned in 1:7 and 4:12-13 (as well as in Philemon) he had great concern for the body of believers and the false teaching that was beginning to infiltrate the church. This was briefly touched on yesterday in the literary context, making mention of the various topics that Paul covered in the letter. Those topics were covered in response to the false teaching. Because he was so concerned about the church, Epaphras made the 1300 mile journey to Rome, where Paul was imprisoned, in order to consult with Paul (INSERT REFERENCE, MNTC).
While it is uncertain exactly what type of false teaching was impacting the church, there are a few things that we can know for sure. First, the people were enthralled with human philosophy. Therefore, they emphasized the human philosophies of the day over the authority of the teachings of Christ. The second was that while they believed in God and believed that He was good, they also believed that all matter was evil. Humans, being of matter were therefore evil. We know from Genesis 3, that all men are indeed sinful. However, based on this mindset, because Jesus Christ was not only fully God but also fully man, they could not believe him to be good, but rather evil. It is for that reason that Paul sets a foundation on Jesus Christ and therefore, the letter is theologically rich in the area of Christology.
Once again, I urge you to read through the entire book of Colossians. I know that some will think this redundant and unnecessary. But by reading it again, we begin to memorize the Scriptures, and we can see the flow, the outline, and even the connection between the text. Please do not give up this, because it is very important. If we are to study the word, we must know be in the word and know it. Therefore, spend this small amount of time reading the epistle, and consider it a valuable investment of your time.