Colossian Quandry

Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians while imprisoned in Rome. He had traveled through the area on his third missionary journey on the way to Ephesus. Colossae was on the Lycus River on a busy east-west trade route, but the nearby towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis were more commercially successful. It was in western Asia Minor when in 670-546 BC it was known as the Kingdom of Lydia. Phrygia occupied the eastern part of the region. In 223-187 BC thousands of Jews were transported there from Mesopotamia and Babylon. On the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem some of the participants were from "Phrygia and Pamphylia" (Ac 2:10). Paul heard about the church from Epaphras who is said to have planted the churches in that area after he had studied the gospel under Paul in Ephesus. In his epistle to Philemon Paul writes "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you" (Phm 32). He cites that they had learned the gospel "from Epaphras, our fellow bond servant" (Col 1:7). You don't just travel from Colossae to Rome on a long weekend visit. Epaphras was an official co-minister with Paul who said he was "a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf" (:7). It seems that Epaphras needed Paul's advice in an important matter and shared having "informed us of your love in the Spirit" (:8). Consequently Paul replied, "since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (:9). His epistle deals with the region of Phrygia because he instructed "when this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans" (4:16). The church was not a large physical ediface of those "who are in Laodicea . . . [but rather like] Nympha and the church that is in her house" (:15). It was a significant presence because, in Ephesus, Paul taught daily in the school of Tyrannus for two years "so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks" (Ac 19:10). In Thessalonica they complained, "'These men who have upset the world have come here also'" (17:6). Paul told the Colossians that the gospel had come to them "just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing" (Col 1:6).