Summary of Colossians
This carefully composed letter centers on the theme of Christ’s sovereignty over all rulers and powers in the universe. The letter is structured in a way that draws its hearers or readers into its center point through a literary pattern resembling a set of concentric circles. It begins and ends with opening and closing greetings. Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession come after the opening greetings and again before the closing greetings. At the structural and thematic center, the letter proclaims Christ’s sovereignty over rulers and powers and promises its audience that God “made you alive together with him,” that is, with Christ himself.
The Christ hymn or confession in Colossians 1:15-20 announces the twin themes of the letter, proclaiming Christ’s lordship over all the powers of the universe and Christ’s lordship of our lives. Christ is the firstborn of all creationCreation, in biblical terms, is the universe as we know or perceive it. Genesis says that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the book of Revelation (which speaks of end times) the author declares that God created all things and… More and the firstborn from the dead.
WHERE DO I FIND IT?
Paul’s Letter to the Colossians is the twelfth book in the New Testament. It is situated in the midst of the “Pauline corpus,” the collection of letters attributed to the ApostleDerived from a Greek word meaning “one who is sent,” an apostle is a person who embraces and advocates another person’s idea or beliefs. At the beginning of his ministry Jesus called twelve apostles to follow and serve him. Paul became an apostle of Jesus… More PaulA Christian missionary who once persecuted the church More (the books of Romans through Philemon).
WHO WROTE IT?
The letter includes a concluding signature (4:18) from the Apostle Paul, yet literary and theological characteristics of Colossians suggest to some that it could have been written by another person who wrote in Paul’s name and authority. The letter’s sentence structure, vocabulary, and theology could indicate a later author or Paul himself using a uniquely rich vocabulary to address new areas of concern.
WHEN WAS IT WRITTEN?
Colossians claims to come from a time of the Apostle Paul’s imprisonment. If Colossians was written during the period of his Roman imprisonment, the letter would fall into the later years of his life, around 61-63 C.E.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Christ JesusJesus is the Messiah whose life, death, and resurrection are God’s saving act for humanity More, the firstborn of all creation and firstborn from the dead, is the one who has conquered all powers and the one to whom all the powers of the universe are subject.
HOW DO I READ IT?
Colossians is very carefully composed so that its message would be easily recalled after it was read aloud in the Christian community. Through a series of sections arranged like concentric circles, the first half of the letter draws readers into the center, and the second half draws them from the center through the complementary sections to the conclusion of the letter. The entire composition of the letter is brought to a focus in the central proclamation of the sovereignty of Jesus Christ over all the powers of the universe. Centered in Christ’s death and resurrection, the letter proclaims the message that believers have been made alive together with Christ.