The apostle Paul had never personally visited the church is Colossae, but he evidently had a relationship with this local congregation. During his ministry in the city of Ephesus, Paul taught in the school of Tyrannus for two years (161 Kilometers west of Colossae). During these two years of ministry, Luke records, “This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). As a result, Epaphras (Col. 1:7) likely took this message of the gospel to Colossae and started the church. Some time later, Epaphras (the likely founder of the church) had visited Paul during his imprisonment. During this visit he had filled Paul in on the progress and situation of the church in Colossae. He shared encouraging news with Paul (which is evident from Col. 1:3-8), but he also revealed some troubling news. This troubling news is what many scholars refer to as the “Colossian error”. After carefully reading through this epistle it becomes evident that the church was being influenced by a subtle teaching that was “cheating” the Colossian Christians (2:8).
The Epistle to the Colossians is Paul’s answer to error and false teaching infecting this local church. In this epistle he presents the Person of Jesus Christ as the only source for true Christian living. The answer to the successful, powerful, and true Christian life is not found in the latest Christian fad or worldly philosophy – regardless of the prominence it may give to Christ. The answer is found exclusively in the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the Supreme One and therefore it is from Him alone we gain the sufficiency needed for the Christian life. Fads and philosophies will come and go, but Christ will endure forever. Colossians presents Jesus Christ as Lord, the Preeminent One over all creation. So in a sentence, the letter could be summarized as follows: The Lord Jesus Christ is above all earthly and spiritual powers, therefore, as the Supreme One, we can obtain all our sufficiency for life and service from Him alone. Here is a basic outline of the book:
I. PROCLAIMING THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST (1:1-2:7)
II. PROTECTING THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST (2:8-23)
III. PRACTICING THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST (3:1-4:18)