This week and next our first readings are from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. He wrote this letter when he was a prisoner awaiting trial in Rome. Paul had never been to Colossae. His disciple Epaphras had brought them into the Faith, and Epaphras had written to Paul about troubles the Colossians were having.
Colossae was a crossroads for caravans passing through what is now Turkey from all directions. Like our Lake City where I-75, I-10, and U.S. 90 intersect, Colossae had many inns where travelers exchanged all the new ideas that were circulating; and some of those strange new ideas were leading the Christians of Colossae astray.
We usually give the name Gnosticism to the novel ideas that were leading the Colossians astray. Gnosticism was similar to Astrology that was saying the stars and planets controlled our lives. In Gnosticism it wasn’t just those heavenly bodies that were directing us, it was powerful angels that were each of them in charge of his own planet or star. The Gnostics believed they came under the influence of those angels, receiving messages from them; even receiving whole new Gospels from them. They had names for those angels, calling them Throses, Dominions, Principalities, Powers.
In turning the Colossians away from adherence to those angels, Paul did not attack the belief that such angels could exist. Instead, he said that even if such angels could exist they would be nothing next to Jesus Christ. In support for his adoration of Christ, Paul makes a wonderful statement:
“Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible.”
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”