Make your own Sun-day.
January 14, 2018
Make your own Sun-day
4. Who is the audience (recipients of the letter)? What are the significant facts about them?
The original audience for the letter consisted of the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who were at Colossae.
What do we know about the city of Colossae and its inhabitants at the time that Paul wrote this letter?
What do we learn about the saints and faithful brethren in Christ from the letter itself?
What other information (if any) is given about the church at Colossae in other books of the Bible?
The city of Colossae.
The inhabitants of Colossae.
The majority of the population of Colossae in Paul’s day was most likely Gentile.
However, there were also a considerable number of Jews in the region.
The Romans kept the peace, built good roads, and encouraged trade.
The peace and the excellent roads facilitated travel.
There were many different ethnic groups and cultures and religions across the empire.
Colossae was a town where many different cultures, religions and philosophies intermingled.
The Roman religion absorbed many of the gods and cults of the nations that they conquered.
The Romans had no problem with the blending of religions in their empire.
People who mixed and matched religions, gods, and philosophies.
syncretism: “the reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief”.
Now on Sundays we have people who make their own religion!
We see the fingerprints of syncretism all over the heresy Paul warns the Colossians about in chapter 2.
The church at Colossae.
There is strong evidence that nearly all of the recipients of the letter were Gentile believers.
1. Paul refers to their pagan past, not Jewish unbelief and Law-breaking (see Rom 2:9- 29; 3:3).
The elementary principles of the world refer to pagan gods or spiritual forces.
The pagans associated these spiritual forces with physical phenomena in the universe (like planets).
Christ defeated these rulers and authorities at the cross. We died with Christ, so we share in His victory.
2. God eliminated the former distinctions between people by creating the new man (humanity) in Christ.
Paul adds another set of distinctions: barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman.
Barbarians are non-Greeks. It was a distinction made in the Greek Gentile world.
Scythians were seen as the most savage barbarians of all. This is a further division between Gentiles.
3. Paul usually mentions the Jews first and then the Greeks (Rom 1:16, Rom 10:12, 1Co 12:13; Gal 3:28) .
He reverses the order in Colossians 3:11. This suggests his audience is primarily Gentile Christians.
4. The mystery that God made known among the Gentiles is Christ in you (the Colossian saints).
5. Their list of pre-salvation sins are associated more with the Gentiles than with the Jews.
6. We find no explicit references to the Law in the letter to the Colossians.
7. Colossians contains no direct quotations from the Old Testament.
They once were hostile to God but are now reconciled to Him through the death of Christ.
They now had redemption, the forgiveness of sins.