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St Paul's Letter to The Colossians


The Epistle to the Colossians is the twelfth book of the New Testament. It was written, according to the text, by Paul the Apostle and Timothy, and addressed to the church in Colossae, a small Phrygian city near Laodicea and approximately 100 miles (160 km) from Ephesus in Asia Minor. During the first generation after Jesus, Paul's epistles to various churches helped establish early Christian theology. It was probably written in the 60s while Paul was in prison. Colossians is similar to Ephesians, also written at this time. Defenders of Pauline authorship cite the work's similarities to the letter to Philemon, which is broadly accepted as authentic. The letter's authors claim to be Paul and Timothy, but authorship began to be authoritatively questioned during the 19th century. Pauline authorship was held to by many of the early church's prominent theologians, such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen of Alexandria and Eusebius. Advocates of Pauline authorship defend the differences that there are between elements in this letter and those commonly considered the genuine work of Paul (e.g. 1 Thessalonians). It is argued that these differences can come by human variability, such as by growth in theological knowledge over time, different occasion for writing, as well as use of different secretaries (or amanuenses) in composition. The connection between Colossians and to Philemon, an undisputed epistle, (Philemon 2, Colossians 4:17), the greetings of both epistles bear similar names (Philemon 23–24, Colossians 4:10–14) is used as evidence by those who advocate Pauline authorship. Karl Barth says ultimately who wrote it doesn’t matter so much as what it says. If the text was written by Paul, it could have been written at Rome during his first imprisonment. Paul would likely have composed it at roughly the same time that he wrote Philemon and Ephesians, as all three letters were sent with Tychicus and Onesimus. A date of 62 AD assumes that the imprisonment Paul speaks of is his Roman imprisonment that followed his voyage to Rome. Other scholars have suggested that it was written from Caesarea or Ephesus earlier on. Colossae is in the same region as the seven churches of the Book of Revelation. In Colossians there is mention of local brethren in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. Colossae was approximately 12 miles (19 km) from Laodicea and 14 miles (23 km) from Hierapolis. References to "the elements" and the only mention of the word "philosophy" in the New Testament have scholars to conclude that early Christians at Colossae may have been under the influence of Epicurean philosophy, which taught atomism. The Epistle to the Colossians proclaimed Christ to be the supreme power over the entire universe, and urged Christians to lead godly lives. The letter consists of two parts: first a doctrinal section, then a second regarding conduct. Those who believe that the motivation of the letter was a growing heresy in the church see both sections of the letter as opposing false teachers who have been spreading error in the congregation. Others see both sections of the letter as primarily encouragement and edification for a developing church. St Paul himself being raised at Tarsus had access to Stoic philosophical thought and also to the ideas of the Mithraic traditions which may have coloured his own Christology. Dr Daffern in his reading and commentary explores the many complex depths of this letter drawing on the methodology of transpersonal history and making the letter come alive in new ways for both Christians and non-Christians alike.

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