COLOS'SAE, or Colos'se (ko-lo-se). A city of mercantile importance on the Lycus, in Phrygia, about twelve miles above Laodicea. The most competent commentators think that the Christian church there was founded by Epaphras (Col 1:2,7; 4:12) and believe 2:1 proves that Paul had not been there previous to writing the epistle. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in the ninth year of Nero and was then rebuilt. The modern town Chonas is near the ruins. See Sherman E. Johnson, "Laodicea and Its Neighbors," Biblical Archaeologist 13, no. 1 (1950): 5-7.

(From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary. Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (c) 1988.) 

COLOSSE properly Colossae. A city on the Lycus, an affluent of the Maeander. To the Christians there was addressed Paul's epistle, before he had seen their face (Col 2:1; 1:4,7-8). Epaphras probably founded the Colossian church (Col 1:7; 4:12). Colosse was ethnologically in Phrygia, but politically then in the province of Asia. On the site of the modern Chonos. The foundation of the church must have been subsequent to Paul's visitation, "strengthening in order" all the churches of Galatia and Phrygia (Acts 18:24), for otherwise he must have visited the Colossians, which Col 2:1 implies he had not. Hence, as in the epistle to the Romans, so in the epistle to Colosse there are no allusions to his being their father in the faith, such as there are in 1 Cor 3:6,10; 4:15; 1 Thess 1:5; 2:1. Probably during Paul's "two years" stay at Ephesus, when "all which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:10,26), Epaphras, Philemon (Philem 2,13,19), Archippus, Apphia, and other natives of Colosse (which was on the high road from Ephesus to the Euphrates), becoming converted at Ephesus, were subsequently the first preachers in their own city. This accounts for their personal acquaintance with, and attachment to, Paul and his fellow ministers, and their salutations to him. So as to "them at Laodicea" (Col 2:1). He hoped to visit Colosse when he should be delivered from his Roman prison (Philem 22; compare Phil 2:24).

The angel worship noticed in Col 2:18 is mentioned by Theodoret as existing in his days. A legend connected with an inundation was the ground of erecting a church to the archangel Michael near a chasm, probably the one noticed by Herodotus. "The river Lycus, sinking into a chasm in the town, disappears under ground, and, emerging at five stadia distance, flows into the Maeander" (7:30). Two streams, one from the N. the other from the S., pour into the Lycus, both possessing the power of petrifying. The calcareous deposits on the plants, and obstructions which the stream met with, gradually formed a natural arch, beneath which the current flowed as Herodotus describes; the soft crust was probably broken up by an earthquake. In the 4th century the council of Laodicea (in the same region) in its 35th canon prohibited calling upon angels.

EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS: written by Paul during his first captivity at Rome (Acts 28:16), in that part of it when as yet it had not become so severe as it did when the epistle to the Philippians (Phil 1:20-21,30) was written (probably after the death of Burrhus, A.D. 62, to whom Tigellinus succeeded as praetorian prefect). Its genuineness is attested by Justin Martyr (contra Tryphon, p. 311 b.), Theophilus of Antioch (Autol., 2:100), Irenaeus (3:14, section 1), Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, 1:325), Tertullian (Praescr. Haeret., 7), Origen (c. Celsus, 5:8).

Object: to counteract the Jewish false teaching there, of which Paul had heard from Epaphras (Col 4:12), by setting before them their standing in CHRIST ALONE, exclusive of angels. the majesty of His person (Col 1:15), and the completeness of redemption by Him. Hence, they ought to be conformed to their risen Lord (Col 3:1-5), and exhibit that conformity in all relations of life. The false teaching opposed in this epistle (Col 2:16,18, "new moon ... sabbath days") is that of Judaizing Christians, mixed up with eastern theosophy, angel worship, and the asceticism of the Essenes (Col 2:8-9,16-23). The theosophists professed a deeper insight into the world of spirits and a greater subjugation of the flesh than the simple gospel affords. Some Alexandrian Jews may have visited Colosse and taught Philo's Greek philosophy, combined with the rabbinical angelology and mysticism, afterward embodied in the Cabbala.

Alexander the Great had garrisoned Phrygia with Babylonian Jews. The Phrygians' original tendency had been to a mystic worship, namely, that of Cybele; so, when Christianized, they readily gave heed to the incipient gnosticism of Judaizers. Later, when the pastoral epistles were written, the evil had reached a more deadly phase, openly immoral teachings (1 Tim 4:1-3; 6:5).

The place of writing was Rome. The three epistles, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon, were sent at the same time. The epistle to Colossians, though carried by the same bearer, Tychicus, who bore that to the Ephesians, was written earlier, for the similar phrases in Ephesians appear more expanded than those in Colossians. The "ye also" (as well as the Colossians) may imply the same fact (Eph 6:21). The similarity between the three epistles written about the same date to two neighboring cities (whereas those written at distant dates and under different circumstances have little mutual resemblance) is an undesigned coincidence and proof of genuineness. Compare Eph 1:7 with Col 1:14; Eph 1:10 with Col 1:20; Eph 3:2 with Col 1:25; Eph 5:19 with Col 3:16; Eph 6:22 with Col 4:8; Eph 1:19; 2:5 with Col 2:12-13; Eph 4:2-4 with Col 3:12-15; Eph 4:16 with Col 2:19; Eph 4:32 with Col 3:13; Eph 4:22-24 with Col 3:9-10; Eph 5:6-8 with Col 3:6-8; Eph 5:15-16 with Col 4:5; Eph 6:19-20 with Col 4:3-4; Eph 5:22-23; 6:1-9 with Col 3:18; Eph 4:24-25 with Col 3:9; Eph 5:20-22 with Col 3:17-18.

Onesimus traveled with Tychicus, bearing the letter to Philemon. The persons sending salutations are the same as in epistle to Philemon, except Jesus Justus (Col 4:11). Archippus is addressed in both. Paul and Timothy head both. Paul appears in both a prisoner.

The style has a lofty elaboration corresponding to the theme, Christ's majestic person and office, in contrast to the Judaizers' beggarly system. In the epistle to the Ephesians, which did not require to be so controversial, he dilates on these truths so congenial to him, with a fuller outpouring of spirit and less antithetical phraseology.

(from Fausset's Bible Dictionary, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1998 by Biblesoft)


(ko-los'-e) (Kolossai, "punishment"; the King James Version Colosse): A city of Phrygia on the Lycus River, one of the branches of the Maeander, and 3 miles from Mt. Cadmus, 8,013 ft. high. It stood at the head of a gorge where the two streams unite, and on the great highway traversing the country from Ephesus to the Euphrates valley, 13 miles from Hierapolis and 10 from Laodicea. Its history is chiefly associated with that of these two cities. Early, according to both Herodotus and Xenophon, it was a place of great importance. There Xerxes stopped 481 BC (Herodotus vii.30) and Cyrus the Younger marched 401 BC (Xen. Anab. i.2,6). From Col 2:1 it is not likely that Paul visited the place in person; but its Christianization was due to the efforts of Epaphras and Timothy (Col 1:1,7), and it was the home of Philemon and Epaphras. That a church was established there early is evident from Col 4:12-13; Rev 1:11; 3:14. As the neighboring cities, Hierapolis and Laodicea, increased in importance, Colossae declined. There were many Jews living there, and a chief article of commerce, for which the place was renowned, was the collossinus, a peculiar wool, probably of a purple color. In religion the people were specially lax, worshipping angels. Of them, Michael was the chief, and the protecting saint of the city. It is said that once he appeared to the people, saving the city in time of a flood. It was this belief in angels which called forth Paul's epistle (Col 2:18). During the 7th and 8th centuries the place was overrun by the Saracens; in the 12th century the church was destroyed by the Turks and the city disappeared. Its site was explored by Mr. Hamilton. The ruins of the church, the stone foundation of a large theater, and a necropolis with stones of a peculiar shape are still to be seen. During the Middle Ages the place bore the name of Chonae; it is now called Chonas.


(from International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Electronic Database Copyright (c)1996 by Biblesoft)



[kah luh SEE]-a city in the Roman province of ASIA (western Turkey), situated in the Lycus River Valley about 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of Ephesus. The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Colosse (Col 1:2; Colossae, NASB. NEB, RSV). The Christian community at Colosse apparently grew up under the leadership of Epaphras (Col 1:7; 4:12) and Archippus (Col 4:17; Philem 2). Philemon and Onesimus lived at Colosse (Col 4:9).

Colosse formed a triangle with two other cities of the Lycus Valley, Hierapolis and Laodicea, both of which are mentioned in the New Testament. As early as the fifth century B.C., Colosse was known as a prosperous city; but by the beginning of the Christian era it was eclipsed by its two neighbors. Thereafter its reputation declined to a small town.

Shortly after the apostle Paul sent his epistle to Colosse, the cities of the Lycus Valley suffered a devastating earthquake in A.D. 61. They were soon rebuilt, even Laodicea, which had suffered the greatest damage. Although Colosse was increasingly overshadowed by Laodicea and Hierapolis, it retained considerable importance into the second and third centuries A.D. Later, the population of Colosse moved to Chonai (modern Honaz), three miles to the south. The mound which marks the site of Colosse remains uninhabited today.

(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright (c)1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)