Course Hero. "New Testament Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Apr. 2018. Web. 21 Oct. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/New-Testament/>.
Course Hero. (2018, April 27). New Testament Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/New-Testament/
(Course Hero, 2018)
Course Hero. "New Testament Study Guide." April 27, 2018. Accessed October 21, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/New-Testament/.
Course Hero, "New Testament Study Guide," April 27, 2018, accessed October 21, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/New-Testament/.
This letter presents a distinctive Christology, or explanation of what it means to say that Jesus is the Christ (literally "anointed one" and a translation of the Hebrew "Messiah"). The hymnic language of Colossians 1:15–20 might reflect early Christian liturgical music, especially given that the author later instructs his addressees to "sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God" (Colossians 3:16).
The content of the hymn identifies Christ as preexistent, present at the time of creation and active in the process of creating the universe and everything in it. New Testament scholars and theologians typically consider this kind of "high" Christology to be a development that did not occur until the end of the 1st century CE. The Christology of this letter to the Colossians therefore suggests that it was probably not written by the historical Paul, who composed most of his letters in the 40s and 50s CE.
Another striking element of the view of Christ in this letter is that the author identifies Christ as the head of the church (Colossians 1:18; 2:19). Letters of Paul that are usually considered authentic, for example 1 Corinthians, also use the body as a metaphor to describe the community of Christ-believers, but the emphasis in those passages is on all members of the body working cooperatively. The Colossians image of Christ as head introduces a hierarchical component and makes explicit an uneven power dynamic between Christ and those who follow him.
The ekklēsia (church community) described in this letter is centered on Christ but also includes households that are structured much like traditional Greco-Roman households in the 1st-century Mediterranean world. Colossians 3:18–4:1 offers what looks like a brief household code, a set of instructions for how various members of a family ought to treat each other. Hierarchical relationships between men and women, parents and children, and masters and slaves are to be preserved, and the author sees this order as "fitting" for Christ-believers. This view of household dynamics is somewhat different from the radical egalitarianism found in some of the Pauline Letters that scholars typically recognize as authentic.
The letter has a distinctive view of salvation as well, which reflects the diversity of early Christian thought about how and when salvation happens. The author appears to believe that the Christ-believers in Colossae are already participating in a full version of salvation; this view can be contrasted with some Pauline teachings that claim Christ-believers will not experience full participation until the resurrection, when their earthly lives have ended. In Colossians, the body does not seem to be an obstacle. By becoming members of the community, the Colossians already have the kind of spiritual body that Paul elsewhere says will only happen in the resurrection.