Paul and Colossae
Paul was addressing some very specific issues in the church at Colossae, as he did with all the letters we know he wrote. His theological training was the finest of his day, but his writing normally stayed very connected to the earth.
As far as we know, Paul never set foot in the city of Colossae. (Colossians 2:9). Located some eighty miles inland from the city of Ephesus, Colossae as a city was overshadowed by Laodicea and Hierapolis. This would place the city in the western part of modern day Turkey.
Though it was what we would today refer to as a “small town,” Colossae was located at an important point geographically. A well-traveled trade route went through the city and brought with it travelers and ideas primarily from areas to the East. These ideas imported by those coming from different parts of the world had begun to impact the thinking of believers in Colossae.
As a young church (probably less than five years old), their teaching and preaching about Jesus and the Scriptures was not well developed. The conflicting ideas, religious systems, philosophies of the travelers as well as the presence of a Jewish synagogue began to threaten the spiritual health and vitality of the young believers.
Two men, Epaphras and Philemon, traveled to meet with Paul about the problems they were seeing arise among the Christians in Colossae. Paul sent them back with his response and authority, and with instructions that they were to share with the other churches in the Lycus Valley. The letter to the Colossians came later with Tychicus.
The danger, as those who have been long in the faith or the church world know, is far more insidious when it comes from inside the church. Outside threats have always existed. Even the most immature believers know what to avoid when it comes to threats from those outside the community of faith.
Far more dangerous are teachings that come from inside the church; a little grace mixed with legalism, grace pressed to the limit and beyond toward license and immorality; a belief that Jesus is not enough-that our efforts and work must somehow be added to assure salvation. A little truth mixed with malignant and devastating lies.
We are also victims of attacks from inside the church. High profile pastors and leaders fall prey to the seduction of immorality. Young leaders, given influential platforms but sometimes with little grounding in the faith, draw many after them and then abandon the faith. The foundation begins to be eroded as though by acid from within. Charlatans and phony religious leaders lead multitudes astray with charming and winsome public persona. We buy the packaging but never read the contents!
Today’s church is not the first to confront these problems. They have been a part of the attacks on the church since its earliest days of existence. And the solution was given in God’s Word over two millennia ago:
Jesus. Is. Enough.