Colossians

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Paul's Epistle to the church at Colossae in Phrygia, Asia Minor (14 miles from Laodicea) is one of the "prison epistles" that also include Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. Written from prison in the 50s CE, Colossians mentions some the same people that are named in his letter to Philemon: Timothy, Aristarchus, Archippus, Mark, Epaphras, Luke, Onesimus, and Demas. Tychicus is named as the bearer of the letter, just as he is in Ephesians and Philemon, which means Paul might have written all three letters at one go.

Paul never got the chance to visit Colossae, because he went from prison in Caesarea (57-59) to house arrest in Rome (60-62). Paul appears to have stayed in Rome after being released from house arrest until his death between 64 and 67 CE. But there's wasn't much to see in Colossae even in the 1st Century. Colossae was a village kind of like Forks, Washington, famous only because of those vampire books.

In this letter Paul asks the Colossians to exchange this epistle with the one he wrote to the Laodicean church, which no longer exists today. The implication is that together with the lost epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (which preceded 1st Corinthians), some of the Word of God has been lost.

In the very beginning there was no New Testament. Paul was probably the first Christian writer, and his letters would circulate from church to church throughout the northeastern Mediterranean area. No doubt many were lost. For the lost ones which are mentioned in the letters which survived, forgeries were made. But not even the forged Letter to the Laodiceans, known and rejected by the Church Fathers, survives today.

In discussing creation, Paul mentions four of the nine angelic ranks: Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, and Powers. All things were created by Christ, and for Christ, he says.

Paul says that through Christ's death believers are reconciled to God, but only "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel". This makes salvation conditional. Protestants who believe Once Saved Always Saved do not memorize this verse. Catholics accept it at face value. They believe salvation depends on the state of the soul at the time of death.

There is another part that makes this epistle more popular with Catholics. Paul says he now "...[R]ejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church

In other words, Paul's own sufferings are added to the sufferings of Christ to win a more complete blessing for the Church. When combined with a passage in Hebrews that says, "...[O]thers were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection..." Catholics developed an elaborate theology called the Treasury of Merit, in which the sufferings and death of martyrs redounds to the benefit of the Church as a whole. Protestants, of course, focus on Christ's words on the cross that "It is finished!"

Paul in about 57 AD seemed to think the gospel had been preached to everyone:

Colossians 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister

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