As we focus on Paul’s Letter written to the church in the small town of Colossae, located by the Lycus River, in the then Roman Province of Asia, today’s modern day Turkey it is important to recognize that Colossae was once a thriving “populace city, wealthy and large,” during the Persian and Greek empires rule and reign, but the system of roads changed, and Colossae was reduced to an insignificant market town by human standards, God had not forgotten the Colossians! (Lightfoot, “St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians and to Philemon,” London, Macmillan, 1879, p.16; Vaughn, EBC, “Colossians,” p.163).
But before we talk about Colossae and the Colossians lets remember Paul, writer of this letter and the troubled times he lived and died in. Paul wrote this letter while he was imprisoned in Rome, probable around 62-63AD. Nero began the first of ten rounds of persecution and execution of Christians.
Paul would eventually be summoned to his execution by Nero, an eye witness account, by Abdias reports that Nero sent Ferega and Parthemius to tell Paul that he was going to be put to death; both they and others gathered asking Paul to pray for them, so they might believe, after which Paul instructed them to be baptized; then the Roman soldiers came and took Paul escorting him outside the city to the place where they would execute his death sentence, Paul again prayed, Abdias reports, “he gave his neck to the sword” (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, p.13).
Take note, these words Paul penned were some of his last! He was not fainted hearted, fickle, or a Follower of Christ for convenience sake ONLY, NO Paul was absolutely committed to Christ and His Gospel and it cost him his comfort, security, and ultimately his life.
As we explore this Letter of Paul’s to the Colossians lets not forget the back drop, following Jesus and sharing the Gospel just might cost you everything, even your life. The times were serious, the church in Colossae was being attacked from within also, a group called the Gnostics were bringing a New Gospel, fundamentally different from Christ’s Gospel. The Gnostic Gospel focused preached a new, but old way to salvation; a salvation NOT through Faith in Christ, but a salvation obtained through acquiring special knowledge, and the practice of superstitious rituals, and astrology and angelology; this salvation was a mystical and magical experience to become a “Gnostic” or a “knowing one.” They believed the material world, including the flesh was evil, and therefore, attacking Christ’s Incarnation and his Deity, Christ could not be both God and Man, because the two could never co-exist. Paul as a counter, to their teachings/philosophies writes this letter to the Colossian church and encourages them to stand firm in their faith, beyond belief, proven in their action to love and care for one another through self-sacrifice...faith in action! Paul in his opening lines, commends these Christ Followers for their dedication to their God and the tangible results.