A Road Map of Colossians

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

–Colossians 1:1–2

Do you remember the days before everybody had maps on their phones? When I traveled to a city I was unfamiliar with, the first thing I did was go to a rental car agency–even if I wasn’t renting a car, I wanted to pick up a free map. I liked to get an overview of the city and the major landmarks before trying to navigate the individual streets. In the same way, it’s good to get an overview of a book of the Bible before trying to navigate the individual verses. That’s what we’re going to do this week in the book of Colossians.

Let’s start with the author of the book. Colossians 1:1 says, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.” The apostle Paul was the most prolific writer of the New Testament. He wrote this letter to the church at Colossae during his first Roman imprisonment from 60–62 AD. Think about that for a moment: In his letter, Paul could have thrown a giant pity party. He could have tried to marshal the Colossians to petition for his freedom. But he didn’t do that. Instead, Paul decided to use his experience to encourage the church at Colossae.

That brings us to the audience to whom Paul wrote this letter. Verse 2 says, “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” Colossians was written to a specific church. Paul never visited the church at Colossae personally, but Epaphras, the man who founded the church, had been saved through Paul’s ministry. So Paul was the spiritual grandfather of the Colossian church.

Why did Paul write to his spiritual grandchildren? He wanted to express gratitude for the good things that were happening in the church. But Paul was also concerned about false doctrine that was creeping into the church. Colossae was on the trade route that connected Greece and Italy to Syria and Mesopotamia, so people from all different backgrounds resided in the city. In that way, Colossae was like many American cities today–there are people from every background and belief system right here in our country. And just as Americans today are constructing their own religious beliefs, some of the Colossians were trying to mix Christianity with their former belief systems. Paul wrote this letter to combat heresies that were cropping up in the Colossian church.

Today, the book of Colossians reminds us to grow strong in Christ, not in any philosophy this world has to offer.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Growing Strong in Christ” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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