Following the literary conventions of the ancient world, Paul begins his letter to the congregation at Colosse by introducing himself and greeting his readers. Such introductions had a function similar to that of business cards in today's professional world. Business cards make introductions and help to establish relationships with potential clients. Likewise, Paul greets his readers in order to establish a relationship with them, creating a positive setting for their reading (or listening—see 4:16) and responding to what he has written.
In Paul's letters, however, variations on the opening formula convey important theological content that helps to introduce his message. The various phrases Paul uses to introduce himself or to greet his audience frame his relationship with them: his apostolic message is authoritative for them and is useful for their spiritual nurture.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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