Compiled by: Gary W. Summers



1. The faith, hope, and love of the Colossians (1:1-8) 2. Paul's prayer for the Colossians (1:9-12) 3. What God has done for us (1:13-29) 4. Being wary of false doctrine (2:1-23) 5. Proper attire for the new person (3:1-17) 6. Proper relationships (3:18-4:1) 7. Final exhortations (4:2-6) 8. Greetings (4:7-18)
Colosse looks to be about ten miles from Laodicea on the map, which may explain the reason that both congregations are mentioned in this letter (2:1). Colosse, however, is not mentioned as one of the seven churches in Asia in the book of Revelation-despite its proximity. The variety of problems that Paul was dealing with in this brief epistle might best be summed up by Philip Schaff's description of the "Colossian Heresy." The special reason which prompted Paul to write to the Colossians was the rise of a new heresy among them which soon afterward swelled into a mighty and dangerous movement.... It differed from the Judaizing heresy.... The Colossian heresy was an Essenic and ascetic type of Gnosticism; it derived its ritualistic and practical elements from Judiasm, its speculative elements from heathenism; it retained circumcision, the observance of Sabbaths and new moons, and the distinction of meats and drinks; but it mixed with it elements of oriental mysticism and theosophy, the heathen notion of an evil principle, the worship of subordinate spirits, and an ascetic struggle for emancipation from the dominion of matter. It taught an antagonism between God and matter and interposed between them a series of angelic mediators as objects of worship. It thus contained the essential features of Gnosticism, but in its incipient and rudimental form, or a Christian Essenism in its transition to Gnosticism (History of the Christian Religion 1:772-73). The word translated "full" or "fullness" is used 8 times.
1:13-14 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. 1:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 1:18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 2:8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. 2:9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. 2:11-14 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to His cross. 3:1-4 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 4:5-6 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
1:6, 23 The gospel was preached to the entire world. 1:15 Jesus is the firstborn (the pre-eminent one). 2:8-3:17 Most of this material deals with the false teachings of the "Colossian heresy." 2:23 "Self-imposed religion."

*Send comments or questions concerning this survey to Gary Summers.

[New Testament Survey Index]