One of the things biblical scholars love to debate is what the “heresy” at Colossae actually was. Was it a heresy? What was taught? Was it from inside or outside the church? Paul warns the church at Colossae, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Col. 2:8).” So who were the false teachers at Colossae, and what was the nature of their teaching?
The simplest answer is no one really knows. The source and nature of the Colossian heresy–if heresy is even the right world–has led to a lot of speculation, but it’s remained one of the more allusive questions among NT scholars. For anyone interested in a summary of the false teaching at Colossae, here’s a paper I wrote a few years ago. In summary, I argue that “the Colossian heresy” is an internal false teaching primarily from Jewish influences that threatened to corrupt the church by undermining the sufficiency of Christ.