The town of Colosse, about one hundred miles east of Ephesus, was a small and insignificant place at the time of this its writing. Yet, it was significant—especially to Paul—because of the Christian church there, and because of the heresies that threatened the truth of the gospel message. These consisted of a mixture of mysticism, Jewish legalism, angel worship, and Gnosticism (chapter 2). These teachings were the result of the false teachers Paul had warned the elders of Ephesus about in Acts 20:28–30. The church was apparently founded by Epaphras (1:7; 4:12), probably after his own conversion during Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19). This letter is one of the prison epistles (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon). Epaphras likely carried the letter from Rome in the company of Onesimus (Phi. 10; Col. 4:9), the runaway slave of Philemon.
The Epistles of Colossians and Ephesians are like two sides of a coin. While Colossians exalts Christ as the head of the Church, Ephesians is more focused on the Church as the body, and bride, of Christ. We can also find contrasts between the two. The Ephesian letter assumes a steadfastness in the recipients, while Colossians warns of the dangers of departing from sound doctrine and being led away by empty philosophy. It has been pointed out that many of the words and verses found in one epistle are also found in the other. Because of this, it is worthwhile to study them together as compliments of each other.