Catholic Dictionary

Colossians

Colossae was a city in the northwest region of Asia Minor called Phrygia, whose other principal cities were Laodicea and Hierapolis. Paul brought the Gospel to the first two cities on his second (Acts 16:6) and third (Acts 18:23) missionary journeys. The Church in Colossae may have been founded by Epaphras (Col 1:7), who was a native (Col 4:12). There were faulty teachings about the direct effect that spiritual beings known as "principalities and powers" (2:15) were thought to have on the destiny of humans. In addition, Jewish and non-Jewish cultic practices were being combined through syncretism (2:16, 21). Given the cultural context of the Church's Gentile and Jewish population, it is highly likely that belief in the "principalities" and widespread use of unacceptable cultic and liturgical rituals were combined with the biblical traditions about angelic mediation of divine revelation (e.g., Dn 10:21; 12:1). The author of Colossians addresses these problems, which ensued from such a combination. Long-standing tradition accepts the Pauline authorship of the epistle. Current opinion is divided on this question because of differences in style, vocabulary, and theology between this work and uncontested Pauline writings. Objections to Pauline authorship are intriguing but unconvincing, given the quantitative lack of historical data currently available. Pauline authenticity should not be rejected. Traditional dates should be followed, placing the time of writing sometime during Paul's Roman house arrest, ca. A.D. 62-63.

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Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Dictionary. Copyright © 2004, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.

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