The Colossians were the people of Colosse, a town in Phrygia. Colosse was not a particularly important town because neighboring larger towns had taken over much of their trade. They were the recipients of a letter from Paul, mostly likely writing during his first imprisonment by the Romans, had probably never visited them at the time he wrote it. He mentioned that he had heard of their great faith, however.
The letter was written because Epaphras, the evangelist in Colosse who might have been converted by Paul in Ephesus, had reported that the people were falling into false doctrine. They were so anxious about committing sin that they were trying to create mechanical methods of obedience in order to be perfect. They were overly focused on external ordinances and ascetic restrictions. They were also involved in the Gnostic practice of angel worship, which told people they could not approach God directly, but had to use angelic intermediaries. Paul’s goal was to teach them to overcome the impact of both gentile and Judaic influences and to help them understand that sanctification came not through mechanical methods, but through Jesus Christ. The epistle’s importance is that it outlines what Paul teaches about the Church.
Paul warned the Colossians to avoid getting caught up in philosophy and worldly traditions, but to stay centered on Jesus Christ. He encouraged them to set their affections on things above, not on things of the world.
Paul invited the Colossians to avoid contention, to treat one another kindly, to avoid worldly distinctions that separate people, to forgive, and to have charity. Families were taught to treat each other with love and respect, with children honoring their parents and spouses working together in an orderly and loving way. Paul taught that when we serve, we serve God and so we need to serve in a Christ-like manner. Servants were to obey their masters and masters to treat their servants well, remembering that they themselves are servants to God.
Every Person in the New Testament by Lynn F. Price, Cedar Fort Publishing, 2002, United States of America