1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
(Colossians 1:1-2 NIV)
Today we begin our study of Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae.
Colossae was one of three cities in the region known as Asia Minor, located in modern-day Turkey. The three cities (known in their day as the Tri-Cities) were Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis.
Colossae was known for both its wool trade as well as its chalky cliffs. Pigments were extracted from the mineral-rich chalk and used to make dyes for the woolen fabric.
There is plenty of historical evidence that Colossae existed as a city and part of the Tri-City area. However, historians cite an earthquake around AD 60 that wiped out all three cities. Laodicea and Hierapolis were rebuilt; Colossae was not. The ruins of Colossae have not been unearthed.
Paul is writing to the church at Colossae, although he had never been there. Paul, on his third missionary journey, spent two years in Asia Minor (Acts 19:10). It was likely there in his temporary base at Ephesus, that Paul met Epaphras, a man from Colossae. Epaphras is the one credited with starting the church at Colossae.
There is also one other person from Colossae that you may be aware of – Philemon (whom Paul wrote to ask a favor to accept his runaway slave back as a brother in Christ).
Paul introduces himself as an apostle, listing his credentials for addressing the Colossian church, as he had not been there. Acts 18:23 tells us that Paul had been in the area on a previous journey, and certainly would have stopped is there was a church or group of believers there. Paul also introduces Timothy, not as a co-author of the letter, but simply his traveling companion at the time.
Paul gives the Colossians a warm greeting, and offers the Lord’s grace and peace as he writes to them.
May we remember, as Paul reminded the Colossian church, that the Father’s grace and peace is available to us as well.