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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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a city of Phrygia Minor, which stood on the river Lyceus, at an equal distance between Laodicea and Hierapolis. These three cities, says Eusebius, were destroyed by an earthquake, in the tenth of Nero, or about two years after the date of St. Paul's Epistle to the Colossians. Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse, were at no great distance from each other; which accounts for the Apostle Paul, when writing to his Christian brethren in the latter of these places, mentioning them all in connection with each other, Colossians 4:13 . Of these cities, however, Laodicea was the greatest, for it was the metropolis of Phrygia, though Colosse is said to have been a great and wealthy place. The inhabitants of Phrygia, says Dr. Macknight, were famous for the worship of Bacchus, and Cybele the mother of the gods; whence the latter was called Phrygia mater, by way of eminence. In her worship, as well as in that of Bacchus, both sexes practised every species of debauchery in speech and action, with a frantic rage which they pretended was occasioned by the inspiration of the deities whom they worshipped. These were the orgies, from οργη , rage, of Bacchus and Cybele, so famed in antiquity, the lascivious rites of which being perfectly adapted to the corruptions of the human heart, were performed by both sexes without shame or remorse. Hence as the Son of God came into the world to destroy the works of the devil, it appeared, in the eye of his Apostle, a matter of great importance to carry the light of the Gospel into countries where these abominable impurities were not only practised, but even dignified with the honourable appellation of religious worship; especially as nothing but the heaven-descended light of the Gospel could dispel such a pernicious infatuation. That this salutary purpose might be effectually accomplished, Paul, accompanied by Silas and Timothy, went at different times into Phrygia, and preached the Gospel in many cities of that country with great success; but it is thought by many persons, that the Epistle to the Colossians contains internal marks of his never having been at Colosse when he wrote it. This opinion rests principally upon the following passage: "For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh," Colossians 2:1; but these words, if they prove any thing upon this question, prove that St. Paul had never been either at Laodicea or Colosse; but surely it is very improbable that he should have travelled twice into Phrygia for the purpose of preaching the Gospel, and not have gone either to Laodicea or Colosse, which were the two principal cities of that country; especially as in the second journey into those parts it is said, that he "went over all the country of Gallatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples;" and moreover, we know that it was the Apostle's practice to preach at the most considerable places of every district into which he went. Dr. Lardner, after arguing this point, says, "From all these considerations, it appears to me very probable that the church at Colosse had been planted by the Apostle Paul, and that the Christians there were his friends, disciples, and converts."

The Epistle greatly resembles that to the Ephesians, both in sentiment and expression. After saluting the Colossian Christians in his own name, and that of Timothy, St. Paul assures them, that since he had heard of their faith in Christ Jesus, and of their love to all Christians, he had not ceased to return thanks to God for them, and to pray that they might increase in spiritual knowledge, and abound in every good work; he describes the dignity of Christ, and declares the universality of the Gospel dispensation, which was a mystery formerly hidden, but now made manifest; and he mentions his own appointment, through the grace of God, to be the Apostle of the Gentiles; he expresses a tender concern for the Colossians and other Christians of Phrygia, and cautions them against being seduced from the simplicity of the Gospel, by the subtlety of Pagan philosophers, or the superstition of Judaizing Christians; he directs them to set their affections on things above, and forbids every species of licentiousness; he exhorts to a variety of Christian virtues, to meekness, veracity, humility, charity, and devotion; he enforces the duties of wives, husbands, children, fathers, servants, and masters; he inculcates the duty of prayer, and of prudent behaviour toward unbelievers; and after adding the salutations of several persons then at Rome, and desiring that this epistle might be read in the church of their neighbours the Laodiceans, he concludes with a salutation from himself, written, as usual, with his own hand.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Colosse'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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