Background on Colossians: 10 Things to Know

Here are ten things to know as you read the book of Colossians. For more context, you can also watch the video overview of Colossians from Bible Project.

  • The Apostle Paul identifies himself as the author (1:1; 4:18).
  • Epaphras likely planted the church by bringing the gospel he heard under Paul in Ephesus (Acts 19:10) back to his home city of Colossae (1:7; 4:12).
  • Paul writes this letter from a Roman prison around 60-62 AD (4:16).
  • Colossae was a small but diverse city in Rome’s Asia province, modern day Turkey.
  • They were immersed in an environment of pluralism and syncretism where most people simply borrowed from the religious and philosophical ideas of the day.
  • Throughout the book Paul hints at a “Colossian heresy.” However, he focuses on Christ-centered, correct teaching rather than the contents of the false teaching.
  • Whatever this false teaching is, it is “not according to Christ” (2:8) and it undermines the sole supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus.
  • John Calvin summarizes this book as follows: “this Epistle…to express it in one word, distinguishes the true Christ from a fictitious one.”[1]
  • Like other Pauline letters, the first half builds a rich theology that the second half exhorts us to then live out.
  • Ephesians and Colossians are companion books—written around the same time—that overlap greatly and can help explain one another.


For a list of identity statements in Colossians, see “Identity in Christ Statements in Colossians.” Additional background to the themes of Colossians and the key characters is found in Finding Satisfaction in Christ: A Devotional Study of Colossians.


[1] John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, trans. Henry Beveridge, vol. 21 of Calvin’s Commentaries (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003), 134.

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