Colossae was a bit more than 100 miles from Ephesus, and the two letters to the respective churches were written about the same time — which would be approximately 60 or 61 A.D. The apostle Paul had heard a number of good things about the church there, but there was also a troubling problem with some false teaching that was circulating among them. Paul addresses that problem with a positive statement of the gospel, but from that positive statement we can gather some information about the heresy he was countering.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:15–17).
Summary of the Text:
Paul urges them to allow the peace of God to rule in their hearts. They are to do this with gratitude. The word of Christ is to dwell in them richly, in all wisdom, and this would be manifested in the result, which would be psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all of them sung with grace. And do everything, he says, in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to the Father in the name of Jesus. As we shall see, the theme of this letter is the absolute supremacy of Jesus Christ over all things. And because of a true spiritual awareness of this, music from the heart is therefore essential.
The Colossian Heresy:
What problem was Paul countering? There appear to have been three general aspects to it. First, it granted a lot of importance to various spiritual powers, angels and whatnot. Second, a strong emphasis was placed on outward religiosity—new moons, feasts, fasts, and so on. And then third, these false teachers claimed to have the magic decoder ring. They were possessors of an esoteric “knowledge.” All this indicates that it was some form of early Gnosticism.
Paul counters their empty philosophy with three profound answers. To the first, he answers Christ. To the second, he answers Christ. To the third, he answers Christ.