Book of the Week 51: Colossians


Human Author: Paul (and Timothy)                      

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. Colossians is the fifty-first book of the Bible.

  2. In terms of literary genre, Colossians is classified as an epistle, or letter.

  3. The Greek name for the book of Colossians is PROS KOLOSSAEIS, which means “to the Colossians” or “for the benefit of the Colossians.”

  4. Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians while he was in prison.

  5. Paul’s letter to the Colossians likely has a chiastic structure.

Story of the Book

Paul opens his letter with greetings where he assures the Colossian church that he is praying for them (Colossians 1:1-13). Paul then presents Christ as preeminent in all of creation, proclaiming that all things were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:14-23). He continues by summarizing his ministry and his struggles for the gospel and for the believers in Colossae (Colossians 1:24-2:5). Paul insists that the Colossian believers remain committed to Christ by refusing to be deceived into believing mere human traditions (Colossians 2:6-23). He teaches the believers to live according to their new life in Christ by living out a life of Christ-like virtue, doing everything for the glory of God and by putting away their former sins (Colossians 3:1-17). Paul then applies this new life in Christ to various relationships within families including: husbands and wives, children to their parents, fathers to their children, and servants and masters, recognizing that all will be held accountable to God for their actions (Colossians 3:18-4:1). Paul asks the Colossian believers to pray for him, specifically that he would have the courage and strength to proclaim the gospel with boldness (Colossians 4:2-6). The letter concludes with a lengthy list of greetings in which Paul asks the believers in Colossae to receive Onesimus and Tychicus as brothers in Christ (Colossians 4:7-17). The letter ends with a final greeting written in Paul’s own hand in which he asks the church to remember him in his chains (Colossians 4:18).

Jesus Revealed in Colossians

Jesus is revealed in Colossians as the Divine Word of God through whom all things were created. Paul goes to considerable lengths to proclaim that Christ is preeminent in creation, even to the extent that all things in the whole of creation were made through and for Christ (Colossians 1:15-18). In Christ, the whole of creation is held together (Colossians 1:17) and the fullness God’s deity dwells within Christ in bodily form (Colossians 2:9-10). These teachings of Paul reveal Jesus to be more than the Messiah. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14) through whom God the Father created the universe. The eternal, divine nature of Jesus as the Word of God made flesh is revealed by Paul in Colossians. Paul reveals this same Jesus in Colossians as the one who is preeminent in all of creation. In other words, all of creation was made through Jesus, and Jesus as the uncreated and eternal Word of God is the one who is revealed by God in all things in creation. Therefore, no human being has any excuse for not acknowledging God as the Creator (Romans 1:19-20). In light of who Jesus is, we have an obligation as Christians to live as people who belong to Christ by loving one another. Therefore, because Jesus died for us, we must honor God with everything we do. Our very lives belong to God because He both created us and bought us with the blood of Jesus. (Colossians 3:1-11).