This is Part 1 of a 15 part Bible Study on the book of Colossians .
Compiled and written by Norma Becker, a true woman of God and God’s word.
Part 1 – Background
We are going to study Colossians, but first let’s get some background….
Who Wrote it?
Who was Paul?
Paul was a very religious Jew. He was born in the city of Tarsus about 10 AD. This makes him about the same age as Jesus.
Tarsus was a city in what was then the Roman Empire. The location now is in the country of Turkey.
His parents named him Saul after Israel’s first King, the most glorious member of the Israelite tribe of Benjamin. His parents could trace their ancestry back to this tribe. His parents must have had some property and wealth and also some standing in the Gentile community since the book of Acts tells us that he was a citizen of Tarsus and also a citizen of Rome – which was quite significant then.
Paul was sent to Jerusalem to study Jewish law under the foremost rabbi of his day, the Pharisee Gamaliel. (Acts 22:3; Galatians 1:14)
The Hebrew word for Pharisees means (the separated ones) and they felt that God had set them apart to live and to teach in strict accordance with the Torah (the Law or Teaching of Moses; first five books of Bible.) The were the “religious of the religious.”
Pharisees vs. the Jews
The Pharisees expected a Messiah who would deliver them from foreign oppression and rule with justice; however, this Jesus of Nazareth had angered the Pharisees by interpreting the Law differently than they did and by claiming a special relationship with God. Therefore, when some Jews began to proclaim Jesus as Messiah and Lord – this was a term usually reserved for God – the strict Pharisees opposed them. Saul was one of these Pharisees and he was active in the fight against those in Jerusalem who proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah.
There was one man in particular that we read about in Acts 6:8. The believers in Jesus began to be called “The Way.” The persecution became so great that many were driven out and went to Damascus (now in Lebanon).
Saul Begins to See the Light
From then on, Saul’s understanding of God and the Torah, the five books of Moses, began to change dramatically. He joined those Jews who were urging other Jews to believe in Jesus. Read 9:20- 31.
After a few years, God called him to proclaim Jesus as Savior to the Gentiles also. Saul took the Greek name “Paul” when he turned to work among the Gentiles.
First Missionary Journey
In the letter to the Galatians, Paul tells more of his life. Read Galatians 1:11-2:1. He spent ten years in the Roman provinces of Cilicia and Syria, probably preaching alongside Jewish Christians who had fled Jerusalem during the persecution. Then a believer named Barnabas called Paul from Tarsus to Syrian Antioch where many Jews had converted to Christianity. After a while, the church in Antioch commissioned Paul and Barnabas to evangelize the provinces of Cyprus and Galatia. (Acts 13)
In all, Paul had what we call three missionary journeys. This was the first one.
Second Missionary Journey
He was anxious to revisit the churches that he had ministered to on his first trip so again he started out. (Acts l6-18:22) On this trip, he went all the way to Athens and then back to Antioch. After some time back in Antioch, he set off on his third journey.
Third Missionary Journey
On this trip he returned to Ephesus and spent over two years there. Acts l9:8-20 tells of what he did in Ephesus. After going on to Corinth, a short distance from Athens, he returned to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he was accused falsely of bringing a Gentile into the temple area and was arrested. He was taken to Caesarea and was imprisoned there for a few years before he appealed to Caesar for justice. This meant he had to appear in Rome.
He was placed in the custody of a centurion and put on a ship along with a couple of Paul’s friends. They had a trip of several months that included a shipwreck and a long walk after they reached Italy. Read Acts 27.
The book of Acts concludes with Paul having resided in Rome for two years, under house arrest, without ever having had his case go to trial; however, while under arrest he stayed in his own rented house and used the time to preach to all who came to see him.
According to tradition, Paul was released from prison and continued to travel around the Mediterranean world. Again, according to tradition, he was arrested and imprisoned about five or six years later, apparently during the persecution by Nero, then he was executed outside the walls of Rome.
If you want to know about all the trials and tribulations that Paul went through on his journeys, read Acts. It is a fascinating adventure story.
NEXT >> Part 2