Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation - Lesson 16

Colossians and Philemon

In Colossians, Paul emphasizes the deity of Christ. Philemon was written to a gentlema Paul knows to encourage him to welcome back Onesimus, his runaway slave, who became a disciple of Christ and was returning.

Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation
Lesson 16
Watching Now
Colossians and Philemon

Letters of Paul

Part 6

VI. Introduction to the Prison Epistles

A. Character Links between the Prison Epistles

1. Philemon/Colossians

a. Epaphras

b. Onesimus

c. Mark

d. Aristarchus

e. Demas

f. Luke

2. Colossians/Ephesians


3. Philippians

B. Colossians and Philemon

1. Notes on Philemon

a. "Fellowship of your faith" in v. 6

b. Compare non-violent protest movements

c. Vv. 13-16, 17, 21 crucial for Paul's intent

d. Justice for others vs. demanding my rights

e. Letter a key model of tact, persuasion throughout

2. Background to Colossians

a. Authorship debate

i. Too different from Paul's other letters?

ii. Too similar to Ephesians?

b. The problem of the heresy

i. Is it all Jewish (e.g. Dunn)

ii. Pythagoreanism (e.g. Schweizer)?

iii. Phrygian folk religion (e.g. Arnold)?

c. The Colossian heresy: Christians not fully saved

i. Christ not fully God – must add works – various rituals for spiritual maturity

ii. Christ not fully human – only spirit not body – inner spirituality divorced from outward actions

d. Colossians outline

i. Introduction: Greeting, thanksgiving and prayer (1:1-14)

ii. Theological exposition (1:15-2:23)

iii. Ethical implications (3:1-4:6)

iv. Conclusion: Final greetings (4:7-18)

C. The "Domestic Code": (Haustafel) in the Epistles

1. Colossians/Ephesians (must be consistent with Colossians 3:11)

a. Husbands – Wives

b. Parents – Children

c. Masters – Slaves

2. 1 Peter

a. Government – Citizens

b. Husbands – Wives

c. Masters – Slaves

d. Elders – Rest of Church

D. "How Would You Respond to…"

1. Colossians 1:15 and "firstborn" as first created being?

2. Colossians 1:20 as teaching universalism

3. Colossians 1:23 used to support "eternal insecurity"

4. Colossians 1:24 used to support incomplete atonement

5. Colossians 2:8 for Christians not to study philosophy

6. Colossians 2:11-12 baptism equivalent to circumcision, thus appropriate for babies

7. Colossians 3:1-3 cultivating inner spirituality, Christian mysticism is highest priority

8. Sabbatarianism

9. Fasting as necessary part of Christian spirituality

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.


  • Correlation of the accounts in Galatians and Acts on Paul's trip to Jerusalem. 

  • Galatians as a model of apologetics supporting Christianity.

  • Comparing faith and works in Judaism and Christianity. 

  • Paul faced persecution when he preached in Thessalonica. The return of Christ is a central theme in the letters to the Thessalonians.

  • One aspect of the subject of biblical eschatology is the timing and nature of the tribulation. 

  • Paul addresses the extremes of asceticism and hedonism, as well as concerns regarding marriage, spiritiual gifts and the resurrection.

  • Divisions in the Corinthian church were caused by both theology and lifestyle.

  • Whether or not believers should eat food that had been offered to idols was an issue in the Corinthian church. The importance and role of spiritual gifts was a major topic of discussion.

  • Paul updates the people in the church in Corinth about his travels. He also follows up on relationships and defends his apostolic ministry.

  • Paul responds to specific situations in the Corinthian church including emphasizing a correct perspective on giving and encouragement to see God's redemptive purpose in our suffering.

  • Knowing the key places as backgrounds for Romans, the timeline and the outline of the book are helpful to understanding the context and message.

  • Paul wrote Romans as a systematic exposition of the gospel.


  • In Colossians, Paul emphasizes the deity of Christ. Philemon was written to a gentlema Paul knows to encourage him to welcome back Onesimus, his runaway slave, who became a disciple of Christ and was returning.

  • Paul addresses how to live in different roles: husbands and wives, masters and slaves, elders and others in the church.

  • Paul describes the blessings of salvation and encourages believers to live in unity that transcends cultural and racial barriers. 

  • Paul describes to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus, who they are in Christ, and the ethical implications for how they should live their daily lives.

  • Paul contrasts the condescention and the exaltation of Christ, and addresses specific situations in the Philippian church.

  • Paul writes to encourage and instruct Timothy and Titus, both of whom are young pastors. It is important for Titus to identify and train elders and deal effectively with factious people. 

  • Paul instructs Timothy about how to pastor a church and turn it away from heresy.

  • Both 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians contain key passages addressing the roles of men and women in the local church. Some of them address conduct when gathering for corporate worship.

  • 1 Timothy 2:11-15 gives some direction for gender roles in a worship service.

  • Key themes and catchwords in James include trials, wisdom, temptation, speech, doubt and perseverance.

  • James discusses the roles of faith and works in a believers life and the importance of prayer.

  • A prominent theme in Hebrews chapters 1-5 is the superiority of Christ to the angels and to Moses.

  • Hebrews 6:4-8 is a key warning passage. Christ's priesthood is superior to both the Levitical priesthood and also to Melchizedek. Chapter 11 remembers the heroes of the faith.

  • A major theme of 1 Peter is perseverance despite persecution.

  • The outline of 1 Peter has similarities to other letters of the first century that emphasize a high view of Christology.

  • Jude and 2 Peter both emphasize refuting false teachers.

  • In his epistles, John emphasizes themes that refute gnostic doctrines. He outlines the tests of life as keeping God’s commandments, loving one another and believing in Jesus as the God-man.

  • As you study and preach from the epistles of John, note the passages that Dr. Blomberg describes as, “gems from John.”

  • Revelation was written by the apostle John in the late first century using apocalyptic, prophetic and epistolary genres. A possible structure by time line would be the past (chapter 1), the present (chapters 2-5) and the future (chapters 6-22). 

  • In addition to the framework of eschatology, Revelation chapters 1-6 develops themes of Christology including a description of Jesus as the lion who is a lamb, as well as the spiritual condition of some of the churches in the first century. 

  • In both of the possible scenarios for the tribulation, believers are exempt from God’s wrath but they are not exempt from Satan’s attacks.

  • Revelation chapters 12-22 cover themes of salvation and judgment of nations, Armageddon, the millennium and the new heavens and new earth.

Using the English New Testament, this course surveys the New Testament epistles and the apocalypse. Issues of introduction and content receive emphasis as well as a continual focus on the theology of evangelism and on the contemporary relevance of the variety of issues these documents raise for contemporary life.


Dr. Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation
Colossians and Philemon
Lesson Transcript


Lecture 16: PhilemonColossians (Part 1)

This is the 16th lecture in the online series of lectures on understanding the Epistles and Revelation, in complement with the textbook by Craig Blomberg’s Book, Acts through Revelation, An Introduction and Survey. 

(Any slides, photos or outlines that the lecturer mentions or uses should be down loaded if they are available, otherwise you may be able to find something similar through the Google© search engine.)

Now we turn to the four letters that have often been labeled as Paul’s prison epistles. These four letters include Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians and Philippians. As we pointed out in an earlier lecture, 2nd Timothy was also written from prison, but the predominate view throughout the history of the church has been that it emanated from  a different imprisonment and different set of circumstances in which we will cover when we discuss the pastoral epistles. Traditionally, the letters have been viewed as coming from Paul while was under house arrest in which the Book of Acts ends. There is one early dissenting tradition in the history of the church that considered the possibility of an Ephesians presentment. We know from the Book of Acts that Paul was also imprisoned in Caesarea Maritimes (by the sea) in Israel to be distinguished from Caesarea Philippi to the north of Galilee, but for the most part, these options have not commended themselves for the reasons we point out in our accompanying text book. 

Today many scholars believe a somewhat stronger case can be made for placing Philippians into one of these non-Roman imprisonments and so we will discuss the issues which are quite similar but not identical to the debate surrounding the location of Paul’s imprisonment for the first three prison letters when we get to our introduction to Philippians. Meanwhile, we will proceed on the assumption that these letters were written from Rome while recognizing that very little of exegetical significance when it comes to interpreting specific passages in these letters hinges on that debate. A bit more will be at stake when we come to Philippians.  

The PowerPoint slide (being used by the lecturer) is designed to stress that Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians also share a common gate at which they were sent out through common letter carriers to the same geographical area of the Empire, namely communities in western and central Asian Minor. We may deduce this from the less well-known names that appear in the introductions or closing greetings or travel reports of these three epistles. Philemon and Colossians share six important names; Colossians 1 discloses Epaphras, the founder of the Colossian church and his name recurs in the letter to Philemon and one of the people sending greetings. Onesimus is a slave of the house hold of Philemon to whom the short little letter of Philemon is addressed and toward the end of Colossians. Aristarchus, Demus, Mark and Luke all send their greetings, apparently companions with Paul during his imprisonment and all of those coincidences together suggest that these letters are being sent out at the same time.  And that in fact Philemon’s household may well be a part of the church in Colossae, indeed, Philemon may well be the leader or resident elder of the home congregation that he is hosting. In which case, the otherwise unattested names of Apphia and Archippus in Philemon 1:2 could represent his wife and adult son, thou these are informed guesses at best. Only one significant name joins Colossians in Ephesians suggesting that they were sent out jointly but it is the highly significant name Tychicus, the letter carrier, almost guaranteeing that we should put Ephesus into the mix with Philemon and Colossians not least because Ephesus was the main port on the west coast of Asia Minor to which a boat coming from Rome would arrive and then letter carriers would natural travel overland, the roughly hundred miles to the east to the much smaller community of Colossae. 

No such links of any kind require us to match Philippians with the same mail deliver and Philemon, Colossians and Ephesians and we will reserve further comment on Philippians for a separate lecture.  There is no particular reason as a result if we are preceding in Chorological order as this survey of Paul’s letter is attempting to do for starting with Philemon rather than Colossians or Ephesians, but we have to pick some order and so perhaps beginning with the most undisputed letter in terms of Pauline authorship and moving to the most disputed makes as good sense as any sequence. If indeed Philemon and the church that may have met in his house to form the collection of Colossian house churches then we may cover a bit more background of both of these letters before embarking on and exegetical survey of them individually. Little is known about ancient Colossae compared to what we have unearthed about these other communities to which Paul wrote. No archaeological digs have ever been undertaken at the tell or hillside where it is believed whatever ruins of Colossae may exist remain buried precisely because it is comparative small and significant and therefore not of interest to major benefactors who fund such archaeological digs. Tourists can roam about on that hill side, every now and then unearthing a small shard of rock of some kind from the Byzantine era. But what is close to the surface from Paul’s day has long since been removed and disclosed to nothing of any archaeological interest.  

It is however worth reminding ourselves that it was what some call Paul’s fourth missionary journey or perhaps, better, his captive journey to Rome, more precisely dated to the fall, winter or spring of AD 60, followed by his two years of house arrest from perhaps 60 – 62 during which these letters would have been written and if we see reason to place Philippians a bit later and during a somewhat discouraging time of Paul’s imprisonment there. We may well want to date these first three letters to AD 60 or 61. The letter to Philemon can easily be neglected, two pages stuck together. The basic plot is straight forward; Paul has met up with a slave from the household of Philemon by the name of Onesimus who has become a Christian as a result of his time with Paul in prison, presumably in Rome.  And now Paul is sending him back to his master and urging Philemon to welcome him at the very least as a fellow brother in Christ and possible as something more. Historically, the most common understanding of the circumstances leading to Paul meeting up with Onesimus have been that he was a run-away. Slaves desired their freedom in the ancient world as they have in all cultures that have included the institution of slavery and as in other times and places often tried to secure this freedom by running away. If this is indeed the scenario behind Philemon, then Paul is implicitly requesting as he asked Philemon to welcome Onesimus back, that he not punish nor execute him which Roman slave owners were legally permitted to do. But that alone would hardly account for this inclusion for this little letter in the Biblical Canon. Even if tradition is accurate, that Onesimus became the Bishop of the church toward the end of the first century, and this would certainly account for the letter preservation. 

There are a number of reasons why this letter merits even more respectful preservation, treatment, study and ultimately Canonization. After a conventional and short introduction and similarly short thanksgiving prayer; the body of Paul’s letter seems to hint at more than merely welcoming Philemon back as a Christian brother but return him to his identical role as a household slave. Already in the thanksgiving prayer, Paul lavishes praise in his prayer, which of course he knows Philemon will read, on the fellowship of his faith. Verse 5 describes the reason for Paul thanking God for Philemon because of his love for his people and faith in the Lord Jesus. And then with this back ground, Paul continues, I pray literally that the fellowship of your faith or as NIV says, that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective, deepening your understanding of the good thing we share for the sake of Christ. And in verse 7, Paul reinforces this prayer and plea by reminding God and Philemon that his love has given Paul great joy and encouragement not least because he has refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. In addition to being a sincere prayer of gratitude, all of this sits very naturally as an introduction to put Philemon in as good a frame of mind for exceeding to Paul’s request. 

Some translations, particularly the older additions of the NIV speak in verse 6 however about Philemon’s sharing of his faith in a way that suggests for many modern English readers that Paul is grateful for Philemon’s evangelistic activity. On this reading, verse 6 can become a very crucial text to inspire and motivate believers at other times and places for active evangelistic witness since the results, perhaps even the purpose of such activity can then be declared that one’s faith becomes effective and one’s understanding of every one thing we share in Christ becomes deepened, but as the discussion in the textbook suggests in more detail that this is more certainly the wrong interpretation. Nothing else in the letter remotely suggests that anyone is talking about Philemon evangelizing anyone. In fact, apparently, Onesimus never came to faith while he was in Philemon’s household but only when he met up with Paul. Rather, using the most common meanings of the words and grammatical constructions here, Paul is praising the love and refreshing of hearts of the fellowship that Philemon has regularly extended to fellow Christians, but let this be the first time when one of his own former slaves had become a Christian. 

Paul wants to make sure that Philemon doesn’t express a double standard but gives Onesimus the same kind of welcome. It is worth reflecting on the more increasingly modern popular options as an alternative to the theory that Onesimus was a run-away rather than some other kind of dispute between slave and master resulting perhaps that Philemon suggested that Onesimus seek out Paul. This would explain why the two did in fact meet up such a long ways away, harder to explain if there was no prior knowledge of Paul by Onesimus. In order that Paul function in what was called in the Roman World, a friend of the Master, who could act as a mediator or arbitrary in helping to settle disputes. Paul’s thanksgiving and prayer for Philemon’s interpersonal welcome, at least for fellow Christians would be every bit if not more poignant, for it would mean that the arbitration would likely be accepted by Philemon. Paul believed that it had been a success and that the welcome home would not have been to punish a returning slave because he would not have been a run-away, but must have been something even more. What would that be? 

Again, an increasing number of scholars, particularly in cultures no longer tempted to find biblical support to justify slavery has suggested that it was Onesimus’ freedom that Paul was indirectly requesting. Why not more directly? Why not make it more unambiguous? We’ve spent some time in our textbooks, suggesting a number of reasons why. Perhaps the two most significant of those are that a direct rebellion might not have worked and perhaps would prove counterproductive as it could have squashed the entire Christian movement and secondly, particularly in these early years of Christianity, it was crucial to communicate to a culture that knew much about human war and rebellion, that the Gospel was fundamentally a Gospel of peace about forgiveness of sin rather about improvement of one’s physical being, material or socio-economic lot in this world. We may compare the positive witness and success of many various spiritual and non-violent protest movements of the 20th and 21st centuries as well. Though in many cases as those movements grew, there was violence and defection from the original vision and cause among at least a fringe group of those movements. 

But just how indirect or obscure is Paul’s request for Onesimus’ freedom? Perhaps it is not quite as opaque as some of us in very direct and blunt cultures might at first think. As the body of the letter progresses, verse 8 finds Paul declaring though he could be bold and order Philemon, he prefers (verse 9) to appeal on the basis of love. This is always a very commendable motive asking for something somewhat indirect and even euphemistically. Verses 10 and 11 makes it clear that his appeal is for Onesimus who is now useful, the very meaning of Onesimus in Greek because he has become a believer, a spiritual son of Paul in a way he had not been before. Use to Paul as well as to Philemon. Verse 12 makes it very clear that he is sending him home, despite (verse 13) his preference for keeping Onesimus with him, which would not have been legally possible had he been a run-away slave, but would have been, had he appealed to Paul as an ominus dominus (owned by someone). The reason for that preference, still within verse 13, could take on Onesimus’ place, since we know from Colossians; Onesimus has been with Paul at one point and helped him while he was a prisoner. Ancient prisoners received no food or goods of any kind from their jailers but depended on friends or family from the outside for help. But Paul continues (verse 14), for he did not want to do anything without Philemon’s consent. 

Again, we sense an elaborate build up, that is perhaps more understandable if Paul was asking for more than just a courteous punitive re-instatement of Onesimus as a household slave. If he continues in this mode, not until verse 17 do we get Paul coming to the exhortation part of this epistle or in this case the request portion? If you consider me as a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me, but Philemon would not welcome Paul as a slave returning home. He would welcome him as a partner and free man and fellow worker in the Gospel. If he has done you any wrong and owes you anything, charge it to me. For Onesimus is just a run-away slave then if he has stolen money and property, Paul was offering to reimburse Philemon. If he is merely an ominus dominus, Paul may be offering to settle some other kind of dispute that may have had financial overtones or at the very least, reimburse Philemon for lost man hours. The emphasis behind this promise is reflected in verse 19 where Paul takes the pen from the scribe and says, I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will pay it back, but reminds him, perhaps reflecting that Onesimus as well had become a Christian to Paul’s ministry and that he owns him his very self.  He continues to say that he could have some benefit in verse 20 and in verse 21 says, ‘confident in your obedience, I write to you knowing that you will do more than I ask.’ Instead of just asking that Onesimus be allowed to return to his slave duties, Paul seems to be asking more than that. What else could that be? 

The letter hasn’t really been understood during times of church history, but it is a story that is well worth studying and reflecting on. And it is an illustration, again, as we can see in the Book of Acts in chapter 16 when Paul appeals for public release and declaration that he and Silas have done nothing wrong after spending a night in the Philippian jail. Paul appealed there to his citizenship only when the timing of the appeal would be most beneficial for the public well-being of Christianity in that community, not  when it would in a private encounter with the Philippian jailer from the night before would have exempted him and Silas from spending a night in jail. Paul, like Jesus before him can speak eloquently of giving up his rights. We saw that in 1st Corinthians 9 with the right to receive remuneration for ministry. We saw it at length in 2nd Corinthians when Paul contrasted his whole style of ministry as one of suffering and being persecuted in contrast to the false apostles and Greco-Roman religion hecklers that has so confused the Corinthian church. But when it comes for seeking justice for others, even if it may require tack and time and patience and certainly a lack of violence, Paul is not nearly as passive or quiet as some have charged, and then finally, a point that should have become evident in our conversations thus far. 

The little letter of Philemon is a gem of a model of pastoral tack. In a context where writer and recipient of a letter did not know each other well, one could make a case that Paul was employing a manipulative form of sociology, but between two people who had once been partners in business and ministry. Where there is a relationship that Paul can describe in the second half of verse 19 as Philemon owning him his very self. This letter takes on a very different appearance, blunt commands, particularly in the ancient Mediterranean world were not appropriate in such contexts. But the carefully chosen words of gratitude that lead up to Paul’s request; the language in verse 8 of appealing on the basis of love rather than commanding and in verse 9, appealing as an old man, a prisoner, a human in a fragile and vulnerable situation, rather than an apostolic authority. 

Showing how much Paul cared for Onesimus, would have liked to used Onesimus for himself but so respected not in this reading and so much the law but as Philemon’s wellbeing and desires. The language of hope for a coming visit to reassure Philemon of good relationships remaining between the two but also in a very gentle and indirect and tactful way, a reminder that he will be able to come and check up on whether Philemon has granted his request. Just as the very fact the letter is addressed to, at the very least, an entire family and most likeness, a small house church meeting in Philemon’s home would give an indirect measure of accountability to Philemon by virtual of the other Christians who would have heard of Paul’s concerns and held Philemon accountable for following up on them. 

To conclude, this is a very deceptively short and straight forward letter, which in fact pays careful scrutiny and leisurely study and contemporary application to a particular situation. 

What of the letter to the Colossians; afore chapter epistle to the entire church and community of Colossae, no doubt including Philemon congregation. Here, we are faced as we were with 2nd Thessalonians, first of all, over the debate on whether or not Paul wrote this epistle.  Of a number of questions, of which the two most central include: whether or not the style and contents of Colossians is too different from the seven undisputed letters of Paul to have come from the same writer. Secondly, it is too similarly in style and content to letter of the Ephesians, which is even more widely believed to be pseudonymous to have come from Paul. As with 2nd Thessalonians, we leave the interesting student to read the textbook and its sources for further details. Suffice to say that the issue of style is perhaps the hardest to simply forget it. Many, even more conservative scholars, who believe they link with Paul can opt to one of those forms of letter compositions, given Paul’s choice of stylistic preference for the letter, after which he would reread the letter ensuring that everything he wanted to say was phrased exactly the way he would want it to be. For Colossians, Timothy’s role as co-sender and even perhaps co-author in 1:1 has made him a natural candidate for such an amanuenses and Ephesians bares at least some similarities to the writing style of Luke leaving some to wonder if Luke as such an amanuenses because we have no other samples of Timothy’s writing style. We have no way of comparing Timothy and Colossians or Timothy and Luke for that matter, so again this remains speculative but at the very least, we must acknowledge that there are plausible historical alternatives to merely jettisoning the letter  and labeling it as inauthentic and fully pseudonymous. 

More difficult and complex even than the issue of authorship is the problem of the false teaching, the worldly philosophy that chapter 2:8 labels as hollow and deceptive, discloses Paul having to combat with this letter to the Church in Colossae. The rest of chapter 2, gives us the most detailed window into what that heresy is, as scholars have come to term it, may have embraced. Because he immediately turns to emphasize the full deity of Christ in bodily form, there may have been questions about deity or the humanity of Jesus or both because of issues concerning circumcision in the verses immediately following, it is natural to assume a Jewish or Judaizing background to at least some of the heresy, which is reinforced in 13 – 15 with references to circumcision and legal indebtedness. The rituals introduced in verse 16 of eating and drinking could refer to the dietary laws of Judaism or the problem of food sacrificed to idols of 1st Corinthians 8 – 10 or some combination of the two as may have been present in Romans 14 – 15. The new moon and Sabbath day festivals were probably exclusively Jewish in which case the religious festivals may have been as well, though there were plenty of Greco-Roman such festivals as well. The false humility and worship of angels is a bit more difficult in verse 18. If this is a false kind of pseudo humility that fallen angels are seen in their worship of their lord, the devil, or even pretending to worship God himself or separated from false humility and referring to the genuine worship that good angels give to God, then this could be some additional form of Jewish practice that has changed in some respect. This grammatical expression may refer to humans worshipping angels who were almost non-existent in Judaism and therefore suggest a Greco-Roman or even a Gnostic component to this heresy which was from a Greco-Roman asceticism or Gnostic philosophical dualism. 

Three very fascinating and passionate and contemporary approaches to this heresy have attempted to see it emanating all from one religious / philosophical source. Several commentators, none in more detail than James Dune and his new International Greek commentary on Colossians and Philemon do attempt to see all of this coming from Jewish and therefore, Judaizing sources. Ebert Schweitzer finds intriguing parallels to the combination of features discussed here in the cult that grew up and took its name from the long since deceased Greek philosopher, come mathematician Pythagoras. Quintin Arnall sees parallels to these elements in various forms of Phrygian Folk religion in the province nearby to Colossae and we might add in nearby provinces as well. But for most scholars, some combination of Jewish and Hellenistic or even Gnosticizing if not yet full blown Gnostic, syncretistic, unique, eclectic, previously not encounters mixture seems to be the most responsible way of identifying this Colossian heresy. Or if we put aside for the moment the question of origins and focus merely on the doctrinal components inferable from the text, thus far surveyed, there appears to have been Christological deficiencies, soteriological deficiencies and anthropological deficiencies in this false teaching. If we allow even for the possibility for both Jewish and Greek backgrounds, this enables us to consider a possible way in which these defective teachings played themselves out and led to the combination of problems that Paul had to address. 

If Judaizing elements contributed to the heresy, Christ would not be fully God because of the non-Trinitarian monotheism of non-Christian Judaism in the 1st century. But if Christ is not fully God, then he has not provided full eternal salvation and therefore as in the Judaizing agenda, Christians must supplement or fill up what is lacking but in regard to human salvation by doing good deeds, particularly the national badges of righteousness that were so central to 1st century Judaism, i.e. circumcision, dietary laws or Sabbath keeping. If we allow for at least some element of Hellenistic philosophical dualists and even Gnosticizing background to the heresy, then the Christological issue would be that Christ would not be fully human. For a god could not literal partake of the material world since matter was inherently evil. So therefore, again, Christians would not be fully saved because Christ could not fully identify with them because of not being completely human. But this time what must be added is that which will perfectly save the human spirit because the body is irredeemable, being irredeemably evil and thus a focus on inter spirituality which perhaps is best reflected in the contrast between verses 3:1 – 4 and verses 5 and following were using language that at first appears to reek of mysticism, ‘set your heart on things above. Your life is not hidden with Christ’ is defined in terms of very mundane, earthly, bodily morality; obedience and good behavior against the dualist view of enter spirituality divorced from outward actions. That or something much like it seems to account for quite a bit for what Paul has to say in response to the heresy.