From an Introduction to Colossians



The following is a bit of biographical information on St. Paul from a class introduction to Colossians. Along with this was some compiled information on the city of Colosse and how we date the Scriptures.


1) He spoke several languages. Hebrew, Greek and possibly Latin (desiring to go to Italy/Spain).

2) St. Paul’s name growing up was Saul of Tarsus. Tarsus is in modern day Turkey. This is/was Asia in their day and most specifically the southwestern peninsula of Asia Minor.

     a. We first hear of him in Acts 7:58 as he watched the clothes and possessions of those who stoned the first post-Resurrection Christian martyr Stephen.

3) His conversion to Christ occurs in Acts 9 as he’s travelling to arrest and perhaps even execute followers of, “The Way.”

4) Saul was his Hebrew name and Paul was his Latin name. Paullos in Greek.

     a. He was not told to change his name or called a different name by God like Peter was.

     b. He likely went by the name as a Gentile accommodation for his ministry. In Hebrew circles he was likely still called Saul.

5) He was a contemporary of Jesus.

6) The Apostle to the Gentiles.

7) Born as a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28) as Tarsus was a Roman province of Cilicia…as was just about everywhere else at the time through the PAX ROMANA (the peace of Rome…a peace through complete domination and subjugation).

8) 62 AD, when this letter was written, means Paul had been preaching for ~ 32 years.

     a. Imagine the insight of an Apostle of 32 years teaching you what it means to be a believer, a dad, a wife, a husband, a servant or master!

9) Paul wrote 13 letters of the NT. In this way, doctrinally he is the largest contributor.

     a. Luke is the largest contributor by size. (Acts and his gospel).

10) Paul had never met these Colossian believers before, Colossians 2:1.

     a. I often reflect on the amazing reality of being saved yet not having ever heard directly from an Apostle. We take this for granted today having their words at our fingertips.

     b. Scripture makes us wise unto salvation, but salvation does not depend on one’s knowledge of the Bible. It depends on the mercy of God.  

11) The Colossian church was founded by Epaphras. Like other churches in the NT, Colosse was now receiving direct apostolic instruction.

12) Colossians is one of Paul’s “Prison epistles” along with Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon.

13) Colossians was actually written from Paul’s 1st several year imprisonment in Rome around AD 62.

14) He was imprisoned several times between AD 59-67 (Once in Caesarea, and twice in Rome) 66-67 being his death, and, by the way, that of Peter.

     a. There were many other times he was arrested or imprisoned, tried, stoned or beaten.

              i. Acts 28:20b: “…I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.”

              ii. Most of us wouldn’t want a ministry with Paul. It would’ve been a hard road.

15) He was released and imprisoned again in Rome a second time up to his death.

     a. Acts leaves off with details of his first imprisonment.

16) He was martyred (beheaded) in Rome around AD 66-67 by the emperor Nero.

     a. Let's talk providence.

             i. As far as we can tell, we would not have this letter without his prison time.

             ii. We have several Biblical letters by circumstances other than what we’d call, “Good.” Others, like the letter to the Romans, were because Paul was not permitted by God to actually go to them, Romans 1:10.

     b. He was permitted visitors during his first imprisonment.

             i. The 2nd Roman imprisonment, not at all. Likely the Mamertine Prison dungeon. Much much worse.

             ii. Everyone in Asia abandoned him during his 2nd imprisonment.

             iii. Persecution under Nero was heating up.

             iv. Rome was burned down (likely by Nero) in AD 64. Tacitus tells us it burned for six days.

     c. Nero blamed Christians.

     d. Paul is in jail for a purpose! He’s there to bear witness to Christ. By the time of his death his influence had gone straight into the house of the Caesar.

     e. Sound familiar? Acts 9:15-16:  15 “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

     f. Paul himself said in Philippians 1:12-13: 12 “Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, 13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else.”

     g. He’s in jail to witness. He doesn’t witness just to make the best of it.


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