Colossians focuses on Jesus as the head of the church and the focus of all things.
Colossae was a small, minor city located about 100 miles inland from Ephesus in what is modern day Turkey. It is located by an important mountain pass and once was a very populated city with a thriving economy. By the time Paul writes to them it had withered, due in part, to the success of neighboring cities like Ephesus and Hierapolis.
Several passages in Colossians shed light on the letter and its purpose. According to Col. 1:4, Paul had never been to the city or the church. In fact, Col. 1:7 seems to suggest that it was Epaphras who worked there and relayed the problems to Paul that resulted in this letter. We also know that Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter (Col. 4:3, 10). Tychicus and Onesimus (the letter to Philemon) delivered the letter to the church and shared news of Paul’s work with the church (Col. 4:7, 10).
The main focus of Paul’s letter to the church seems to revolve around the supremacy of Christ and His sovereign rule. It calls the church to return to its faith in Jesus, as Paul had taught them. It appears that false teachers had infiltrated the church and were teaching the very ideas that eventually became Gnosticism. They were contradicting Paul’s teaching (Col. 2:8), emphasizing rituals and acetic practices and the worship of angels (Col. 2:16-18). To make matters worse it seems that all of this was the result of human reasoning (Col. 2:20-23).
All in all this little letter, that shares so much with Ephesians, was meant to strengthen their faith in Jesus and help them live in a world that fought against them at every turn. As such, I believe it is a letter that could help the church today as we fight the modern attacks on the church.
Jeff Arnette, Central Haywood Church of Christ.