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Colossians

Colossians (kəlŏshˈənz) [key], New Testament letter. It was written to the Christians of Colossae and Laodicea, ostensibly by Paul while he was in prison, presumably in Rome (c.A.D. 60). Its writing was provoked by the appearance of false teachers who taught some sort of gnostic doctrine involving either the worship of angels or the worship of God in mystical communion with the angels, and ascetic and ritual observance evocative of Jewish practice. Some scholars argue that Colossians is a pseudonymous work. In support of this contention, they cite passages asserting that believers have already been raised with Jesus. In the undisputed Pauline letters (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon), Paul views the resurrection as a future hope for believers, not a fact of present experience. The conventional and patriarchal morality espoused in the so-called Household Codes of chapters 3 and 4 has no parallel in the undisputed Paulines. Colossians is similar to Ephesians in theological outlook. It features a hymn to Jesus as the head of the cosmos and the Church, and it emphasizes the doctrine of the mystical body of Christ.

See P. T. O'Brien, Colossians and Philemon (1982).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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