Date: 58-60 AD
The main arguments against Colossians are that of style, and theological and ecclesiastical developments otherwise absent from Paul. Below is the case for Pauline authorship.
Language and Style
In the case of language, Norman Perrin notes that 25 words in Colossians are not found elsewhere in Paul and 34 are not found anywhere else in the New Testament. With respect to style, synonyms are heaped together (e.g. 1:9, 22) and,
the style is cumbersome, verbose and surfeited to opacity with subordinate clauses, participle and infinitive constructions or substantives with en (e.g. 1:9-20 [which is one sentence!], 2:9-15).
This contrasts markedly from Paul's style. Yet he also adds,
On the other hand, a number of expressions and stylistic peculiarities in Colossians are found elsewhere in the New Testament only in the genuine Pauline letters.
But the fact is, the argument from style does not support pseudonymity at all. Norman Perrin summarizes it best,
These linguistic factors could be due to pseudonymity, in part difference from and in part deliberate imitation of genuine Pauline vocabulary and style. Or they could be due to a deliberate use of the opponents' vocabulary and to the very extensive use in this letter of traditional material-hymns, confessions lists of virtues, houshold codes and the like. The letter does employ a great deal of traditional material, and it can be argued that this accounts for the non-Pauline language and style. If this is the case, the non-Pauline language and style are not indications of pseudonymity.
He goes on to say that Colossians' overabundant usage of traditional material, compared with Pauline letters like Philippians and Romans, may itself be described as non-Pauline and thus finishes with stating that the argument from language and style is inconclusive. But can we really second-guess how much traditional material the Apostle would have utilized in writing to a church he had never visited and a community which had a growing problem of heresy? In any case, Grant notes that the long sentences in Colossians (1:3-8, 9-20, 21-3, 24-9; 2:8-15) have reasons, such as the first containing a thanksgiving, ordinarily long in Paul's epistles, and the second being a prayer,
presumably expressed in semi-liturgical language.
He also notes that as the letter progresses, the sentences become shorter and that
we should explain this fact as due not to the fatigue of a Paulinist but to the changing mood of Paul himself.
Another difference between some of Paul's letters and Colossians, is the lack of dynamic expression, such as Galatians: "pseudepigraphy cannot be ruled out - not least when, once again, Colossians is compared with a text of immediate rhetoric like Galatians." But this is exactly the point that has been consistently made about different moods in the same author. Galatians fights the Judaizing heresy which Paul was so intent on reproving, in a church that he had founded and was surprising to him that they had turned away from the freedom in Christ. Colossians has a heresy, and the "immediate rhetoric" can certainly be somewhat seen in chapters 1 and 2, but it is a church that Paul had never visited. Paul certainly fights the Jewish-Greek philosophies in a similar manner as Galatians (2:6-23), except that here it is not Judaizers at work but Jewish Gnostics, who simply utilize Jewish traditions and so Paul cannot really appeal to his typical arguments against Judaizers such as in Galatians. And wouldn't a later forger appeal to such arguments much moreso, if he were fighting such heresies (e.g. 1 Clement 32, clearly in the tradition of Paul, how much more then someone imitating Paul himself!)? Clearly then, either the context demanded a different type of argumentation, or it is by Paul, since it makes less sense for a later author not to appeal to Paul's arguments, which would have immortalized him, than for Paul to have seen the situation as coming from a different angle. To claim Paul must have made a longer case is speculation, and the argumentation he uses is entirely plausible.
It's therefore probably best to conclude that the arguments from style and language not only don't speak against Paul's authorship, but along with Perrin's earlier statement about characteristics in Colossians found only in the Pauline letters, favor authenticity.
Opponents and "proto-Gnosticism"
The "proto-Gnostic" language (and the existence of Gnostics overall) of Colossians is used by some to indicate a date closer to 80 than 60 for Colossians. But as Kümmel notes, Gnosticism was a pre-Christian movement, and Christian Gnosticism could have existed in some form in the time of Paul. Speaking in reference to the Pastorals, Kümmel writes:
If the Pastorals are concerned with a Gnosticism more or less modified by Jewish Christianity, then that corresponds exactly with that which we have observed as the danger to the congregation in Colossae...Although the false teachers who are opposed are Gnostics, there is, therefore, not the slightest reason for relating them to the great Gnostic systems of the second century.
They are unlikely to be the forerunners of the 2nd century Gnostic systems, as it seems to be a local movement that apparently ended quickly. Absense of the mention of similar such problems in later Christian writings close to its time and before 2nd century Gnosticism (such as 1 Clement, Ignatius) would only support that, and is irrelevant since Colossians was certainly written before them, seeing that the letter was known to both 1 Clement and Ignatius, and its specific problems apparently did not apply to their audiences in any widespread way.
Absent Pauline Concepts
The absense of justification, law, salvation and revelation is sometimes brought up as pointers to inauthenticity. "The absence of any one of these is not determinative of pseudonymity by itself, but the absence of all of these together does seem to point in that direction. Can we really have a genuine Pauline letter that does not deal with the concepts of law and justification?" But 1 Thessalonians also has nothing to say about the law and justification. Colossians does mention "the law" as "the written code" (2:14) and justification is implicit in 2:13-15. The absence of revelation is not surprising; it apparently has no role here, and salvation is implicit in certain sections (2:13-15, etc). The shortness of the letter seems to suggest the Colossians didn't need much exhorting such as the Corinthians for example. If anyone wants to cite the shortness of the epistle as proof of inauthenticity, in other words, that the forgerer didn't want to deal with explaining things like salvation, justification, and so on to an audience that would have already known these things, the overall shortness of all the sections makes the forgery a bit purposeless if it is trying to expound some new doctrine, and this is more of a pointer of authenticity than the other way around. At any rate, a forgerer would have certainly mentioned and expounded upon these major Pauline concepts.
It's said that Col 1:15-23 is an advancement on anything to be found earlier in Paul. In 2 Cor 4:4, Christ is the "image" of God and also contrast Rom 8:29. In Colossians 1:15 no longer does Christ have an image to which others can conform, but is now seen as a true representation of God,
making visible what heretofore was invisible. He is no longer the first born among the believers who in part share that new birth at their baptism and will share it completely at their resurrection, but rather the first born of all creation. Moreover, he is now the goal of all creation, "all things were created through him and for him" (Col 1:16). In 1 Cor 8:6, God is the goal of creation, "from whom we are all things and for whom we exist" "We exist," rather than "all things exist," because Paul himself never reaches the pan-cosmic thinking of Colossians [1:16, 1:19-20], even though in Rom 8:19-23 he is on his way to it.
Perrin continues on this, saying that we can't argue this development is due to the hymn which Paul is citing and not anything different about the author, because if Paul is quoting the hymn, he certainly must agree with it. Thus the differences between Colossians and Romans and 2 Corinthians remain. But what differences are they? 2 Corinthians 4:4 notes in the same way that Colossians 1:15 does, that Christ is the image of God. The difference between Colossians 1:15 and Romans 8:29 is because Paul is talking about the image of Christ in a different sense in the latter. In Romans, the image of Christ is (perhaps correctly rendered 'likeness' and not 'image' in some versions?) the life Christ led while on earth, one devoted to righteousness and following God's will which all Christians are expected to imitate (Matthew 5:48). In Colossians, the firstborn of all creation is with respect to the existence of Christ having begun not at birth, but prior to the whole world (John 8:58); the statement in Colossians is not theological, but factual.
And what of the lack of a 'pan-cosmic' attitude in Paul? We'll begin with the overall question of foreign Christology in Colossians 1:15-20. With respect to 1:15, the pre-existence of Christ mentioned is already found in Paul (Galatians 4:4, Romans 8:3 ). Christ's identification as part of God's nature is also found in Paul (Philippians 2:6-8, 2 Corinthians 4:4, and perhaps we should mention the disputed Romans 9:5). The overall attitude of reconciliation to Christ, which in turn is to God, is not foreign to Paul. In 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, all things belong to the believers in a metaphorical sense, who all belong to Christ, who belongs to God. Christ as partaking in the creation of the world as seen in Colossians 1:16-17 is also not foreign in Paul, but can be inferred from him and all things "holding together" in Christ (Colossians 1:17) is nothing different from the fact that it is through Christ that these things came into existence (whether 1 Corinthians 8:6 applies to this or not, the idea is somewhat in conjunction, since the power to create, also gives the power to destroy). Verse 18 is not part of the "majestic Christology" and is talked about below. Colossians 1:19-20 is nothing different from 1 Corinthians 8:6 (whether taken metaphorically or not) and Romans 8:19-25. And finally, as Perrin noted above, God is the goal of all creation for whom we exist in 1 Corinthians 8:6, as opposed to Colossians 1:16 where all things exist for Christ. Yet as we have noted on the interchangeability between God and Christ in Paul above, and Perrin himself writes that Romans 8:19-23 is on its way to it, combined with the fact that, naturally if we exist for God, which can be said to also mean "for Christ", all things exist for Christ as well, and so the only question that remains is why Paul is not as explicit there as he is in Colossians. The tone does seem more majestic, and more fully explained, but this cannot really be a strong objection against Pauline authorship, because the occasion (writing to a somewhat new church he had never seen and is proud of) may have been the reason for this tone.
Some see a marked difference between the role of baptism in Colossians as opposed to the other Pauline letters, that in Colossians it signifies the past and is a "completed salvation" whereas the rest have it symbolize the future. But this is untrue, as Romans 6:1-14 has the same meaning as the baptism in Colossians, (Col 2:12, see Romans 6:4 - the parallel is a 'new life' which is symbollicly called resurrected with Christ in Colossians, a development certainly on its way from Romans, and Colossians having been written about 1-2 years later).
The parousia in Colossians is still characterized by nearly the same language and tone as 1 Thessalonians (see Col 3:4), and further mention of it is lacking because of the subject matter: the heresy slowly trying to make their way in the Colossian congregation.
It cannot be said that the letter is post-Pauline due to the audience being expected to acknowledge the (presumed to be late) doctrine of Christ as co-creator in Colossians 1:15-20, because of the implicit expression of it in 1 Corinthians 8:6 and that if it is a hymn, it means such a belief came from the time of Paul. Hymns such as Philippians 2:6-8 only go to show that this does not necessitate lateness.
That Paul does not prove Col 1:15-20 through the Old Testament or some sort of halakkah (as in Galatians 3) or other reasoning is negated by the fact that he doesn't do this in other such places, such as Phil. 2:6-8.
Other minor objections are that:
• Christ is the mystery of God only in Colossians.
• Believers have been raised with Christ
• Christ forgives sins
• Christ has defeated the worldly and non-worldly (evil) powers.
Regarding Christ as God's mystery revealed, even if one doesn't consider the doxology of Romans 16:25-27 original, Romans 11:25 has pretty much the same meaning as Christ being the mystery revealed now (also Paul seems to describe events directly connected with God's plan as a mystery, see 1 Cor 14:2, 15:51ff., so this is arguably a sign of Pauline authorship), and especially with the fact that early on the prophecy in Psalm 78:2 must have been applied for Christ (Mt 13:35; also see Matthew 13:11/Mark 4:11/Luke 8:10). Believers are already raised with Christ in Romans 6:4, and that is what the metaphorical language means there as well as in Colossians - a new life. The ambiguity of Colossians 2:13-15 as to whether the action is performed by God or Christ should probably lean toward God, seeing verse 13, and the "triumph by the cross" would be God triumphing through Christ. In any case, Christ as God's agent is seen in Paul (1 Cor 8:6), and Christ defeating the earthly (and certainly the other-worldly, viz., satanic) powers through his death and resurrection is also Pauline (Rom 8:37-39, 1 Cor 1:18-31, etc). Christ as forgiving sins was in any case held early by the Church - Mark 2:10.
And so these theological points cannot be used against Pauline authorship.
The Church as the Body of Christ
In Colossians 1:18 Christ is the head and the church is the body, and the body is a "cosmic reality" (1:18, 24, 2:19, 3:15), but in Romans 7:4, 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, it's a "metaphorical way of expressing mutual interdependence of Christians in the church."
It is untrue that the body is a "cosmic reality" in Colossians 1:18. The previous verse may be of such a nature, but Christ's supremacy is the emphasis, not the cosmos' relation to him, and thus the sense is switched in 1:18 (the exact same parallel can be seen in Romans 12:4-5, which can arguably be said points toward authenticity). It cannot be denied that "the body" is still a metaphorical expression of the Christians there, nor in verses 1:24, 2:19, and 3:15. In any case, we should be content with Kümmel's summary of the problem:
The idea of Christ as the "head of the body, the church" (1:18; 2:19), which is new in respect to the recognized Pauline epistles, is not striking within the framework of the Pauline ecclesiology, if we observe that Paul even in the recognized epistles (in addition to the comparison of the church with a body Rom. 12:4 f.; I Cor. 12:12, 14 ff.; cf. also Col. 3:15) knows the conception of the identity of the church as the "body of Christ" with Christ himself (I Cor. 1:13; 12:12c, 13; Gal. 3:28), and that thereby the conception of Christ as the "makroanthropos" is given, wherever we might derive this conception. Viewed in this light, the head, as the controlling reality in the "body" (2:19), is a natural, precise statement which is not out of line with the idea of the body in the recognized epistles (cf. E. Best, One Body in Christ, 1955, 115 ff.).
With this elucidation that Colossians pronounces the same, albeit previously implicit, Pauline concepts, the development in Colossians 1:18 and especially 2:19 is understandable (and still look at verse 3:15 and how "primitive" and fitting it is compared to Romans 12:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:13). Overall, we can't use any previously unstated Christological doctrines in Colossians as evidence against authenticity, because we can see how the previously implicit doctrine of Christ's pre-existence in Paul's letters is brought out in Colossians because of the angel worship by the Colossians.
The main deciding factor for those who deny Pauline authorship for Colossians is undoubtedly the characteristics which seem to argue for a development of the ecclesiastical situation beyond the time of Paul. The below points are said to show that Colossians shows signs that the church has become more institutionalized, and not as "freer and more charismatic" in Paul's day.
The first thing which is noted is the description of Epaphras as "a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf," (1:7) to the gospel "of which, I, Paul, became a minister," (1:23) and to Paul's ministry as "a divine office" (1:25). This is said to be a significant step from the use of the same word, diakonos, in Paul's letters: in Romans 13:4-5 it describes worldy authorities, Romans 15:8 of Christ as a "servant" of the circumcision, 1 Corinthians 3:5, 2 Corinthians 6:4, 11:23 - Paul and others are "servants" of God or Christ, and none of the meanings come close to that found in Colossians 1:7, 23, 25. Only in 2 Corinthians 3:6 does it come near the concept, but even there we see a significant difference, and seeing 1 Timothy 4:6, "the use in Colossians is a move from the earlier Pauline letters toward the use in the Pastorals."
But this objection is especially confusing. If Epaphras being a "minister" is understood in the sense that he is a servant of Christ, then this is nothing different from Paul. If it is understood in the sense of being a church "authority", this is nothing different from Paul either (Philippians 1:1, sending of Timothy in 1 Thessalonians 2,5). There is nothing foreign about Paul being a minister/servant of the gospel (Colossians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 3:6 has the same meaning here). There is nothing odd about a "commission by God" (Colossians 1:25), seeing Galatians 1:15, 2:7-8, 1 Corinthians 9.
Another objection to authenticity deals with Colossians 2:6. In Colossians 2:6, the Christian receives the tradition which is supposed to tell him how to live his Christian life. The acceptance of this tradition is the basis of Christian living and is the Christian's faith, and this is a characteristic of early catholicism, but in Paul tradition is only used with respect to local culture and other such non-spiritual factors (1 Corinthians 7:10; details, as Perrin characterizes it) or for the liturgical practice of the churches (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), never as providing the essense of Christian faith. But nothing in this section, has anything suggesting the tradition of early Catholicism. The content in Colossians 2:6-7 is no different than 1 Corinthians 2:12-13. The Christians' faith was taught to them by the Spirit, and even if Colossians 2:7 is taken to imply that someone physically taught the Colossians something as part of their faith, this human teaching (whoever it was that taught the Colossians' their faith) need not be any more different than the kind of teaching Paul constantly did throughout his epistles (1 Corinthians 4:14-17, Galatians 5:16-26, etc.)
Another argument is that in Colossians baptism is a rite required for entrance in the Christian community, like circumcision in Judaism (2:11), whereas in Paul's day it was the "dynamic means of entrance into a new and different life (Romans 6:3-11)." Moreover, despite Col 2:11-14 using the language of Rom 6:3-4, baptism has become "much more formal and istitutionalized." In Colossians we are going toward the emergent catholicism of 1 Peter 3:21. This objection is inaccurate. Baptism is not the justification of "circumcision in Christ" in Colossians 2:11. It is a follow-up, and there is nothing more developed than Romans 6:3-4. The circumcision by Christ is the same concept as the circumcision "of the heart, by the Spirit" (Romans 2:29). Colossians 2:12 talks about resurrection taking place in the believer at baptism, but this is nothing un-Pauline, since its sense is the "new life" which one gains as a believer (cf. Rom. 6). The concept of God saving by the forgiveness of sins through Christ without the mention of faith on the part of the believer may seem strange in Colossians 2:13, but this is nothing different from Paul's expression found in Romans 5:6-11, and faith on the part of the believer is certainly presupposed. The phrase "He forgave us all our sins" in 2:13 may be strange, not only because of the way it is phrased (compare with Romans 4:25), but because of the lack of elaboration on how they are forgiven (e.g. justification through faith in Christ). But the subtle resemblance to Romans 4:25, along with the situation may have produced such a style. Verse 2:14 is stylistically Pauline, and the entire theology (2:9-15) is connected within the argument of verses 2:6-8 and 2:16-23 in a way that defies forgery, which would have been the main objective given the exalted Christology of 2:9-10 (Christology which is not elaborated anyway). Furthermore, the entire argument, with such theological elaborations in the middle of an argument are Pauline (Romans 5:20-6:23). The amount of parallels between Romans 6 and Colossians 2:12-14 may seem many as to suggest deliberate forgery, but these are so subtle that it is best concluded that parallels between other epistles and Colossians are due to the proximity of the writing to them (a couple of years after Romans) combined with perhaps the situation and audience.
It is true that the Haustafel, or house code in 3:18-4:1 is originally Hellenistic in form, but this does not mean the author couldn't be Paul. Paul uses such originally Hellenistic devices elsewhere (e.g. the catalogue of vices and virtues in Galatians 5:19-23). As Grant writes,
Such statements are found among Paul's contemporaries, especially Stoics, and it is probable that his example is based in form on theirs, though the content has been given a Christian sanction
Some have in one way or another seen the names in Colossians as having been lifted from the authentic letter to Philemon, and simply copied for verisimilitude. First of all, references to Philemon and Apphia in Colossians are entirely missing. This is especially odd, since, as Robinson noted long ago, one is left with the impression that Onesimus ran away from Philemon from Philemon 1 greeting him first, yet apparently it was from Archippus (Col 4:17, Phlm 2). Furthermore, a previously unmentioned Tychicus is the carrier of both Onesimus and the letters, whereas one would expect this to be Epaphras (especially seeing Col 4:12) or someone from Philemon's list of fellow workers to be doing this. Not to mention that Aristarchus is mentioned as a fellow prisoner with Paul (Col 4:10), not Epaphras as in Philemon, apparently meaning all/most of Paul's fellow workers mentioned in Philemon/Colossians are in prison with him, certainly not discernible from the text of Philemon. Clearly then, an imitator is very unlikely, not only because of the absense of Philemon's name, but because this absense and the overall language of Col 4:7-9 (with respect to Onesimus) suggests a relationship more subtle than that of an imitator, lifting material from the letter to Philemon.
Others have seen the names of Epaphras, Lucas, and Demas in Colossians, being written in their short form as opposed to the formal, as an argument against authenticity, since Paul would have written these in a letter to Philemon, but not to the church of Colossae, which he did not know, this being evident when he does not abbreviate "Loukios" when writing to the church of Rome, and Epaphroditus in Philippians. Some also go further and say the author confused these two names and inserted them into Colossians. But the names Loukios and Epaphroditus are for two different individuals, since why would Luke in Colossians not be identified as a Jew knowing Romans? No forgerer could have "gotten it wrong". If Epaphras was from Philippi, then why would Paul write to Philemon, Apphia, and Aristarchus by introducing him to them by his short, informal name, whereas to his native city, Philippi, he talks about him by his formal name? Clearly they are two different individuals. Why Paul didn't shorten the name "Loukios" to "Loukas" when writing to the Romans, and Epaphroditus into Epaphras to Philippi remains with the way they were known, since he clearly shortened Epaphras for Philemon, yet did not Epaphroditus for his native Philippi; it is not a valid argument against authenticity for writing Epaphras to Colossae, which would have known him. If one wants to say that the forgerer of Colossians knew this and so conscioussly made Epaphras as "one of them" (4:12), that is just as much a conjecture as if it is authentic (especially seeing everything else arguing for authenticity), and in any case the forgerer could have just written out Epaphroditus. The informal name is because, while Paul doesn't know the church personally, he is on friendly relations with it (1:3-14, 4:14-15), and can certainly use the informal names of his co-workers (especially seeing the language of 4:14).
A minor point mentioned by Perrin is the verb for "reconciliation" used in Colossians 1:19-20, which is according to him a development from the one used in 2 Corinthians 5:19. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 the verb is katallassein, whereas in Colossians (and Ephesians) it is apokallassein. 'Both verbs mean "to reconcile," but there is a small yet significant difference between them.'
But even if this is a development, which is very speculative, it doesn't necessitate someone other than Paul, and in any case does not bring the cumulative evidence discussed above against Pauline authorship.
- Perrin, New Testament Introduction, p.121
- Perrin, ibid.
- Perrin, ibid.
- Perrin, ibid.
- Grant, Robert M., A Historical Introduction to the New Testament, p.195
- Grant, ibid.
- Sturdy, J.V.M., ed. Jonathan Knight, Redrawing the Boundaries: the Date of Early Christian Literature, p.57
- The answer that the author didn't see the need to answer the problem of Jewish proto-Gnosticism in Colossians 2 in the Pauline manner is problematic seeing 1 Clement 32, and the fact that if Colossians is a forgery, the author is imitating Paul, so even if a different answer could be seen, would a forger really use such and not the Pauline tradition, especially seeing the legend had grown to such extents that he is imitating him?
- Kümmel, W.G., Introduction to the New Testament, 14th ed., p.267
- Sturdy, Op.cit., p.58
- So there is no confusion, at this point Perrin points out that in all three section, Colossians, 2 Corinthians, and Romans, the Greek word is the same, eikon, which is "image" even though some translate it differently (e.g. likeness, etc.)
- Perrin, Op.cit., 122
- Galatians 4:4: "But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law".
Romans 8:3: "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man". For someone to be sent, they must have pre-existed, and this is clearly not figurative language seeing how factual its content is.
- 1 Corinthians 8:6: "yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live."
This is not a metaphorical description of things coming "through" Christ, because for one, although the second phrase, "through whom we live" may and probably is entirely metaphorical, verse 5 connects to physical food and therefore God the Father "from whom all things came" must refer to physical Creation (i.e. God made everything, nothing is polluted in and of itself). The parallelism with Jesus, therefore, would have to refer to the same physical creation of everything, or it's unintelligible (how exactly can food sacrificed to idols and "everything" else metaphorically come from Jesus, and what does that even mean?). The frequent interchange between God and Christ, such as "the Spirit of God" being sometimes "the Spirit of Christ", or "God working in you" and sometimes "Christ working in you" shows that Christ partaking in creation cannot be called unPauline with any definite certainty.
- The fact that only Matthew quotes Psalm 78:2 with respect to Christ as the mystery awaited by the world revealed does not mean that, since neither Mark nor Luke quoted it, that it was not applied to Christ, but only that Matthew was the only one of the three Synoptists to write down this marginal comment. This is shown true by the fact that none of the Gospels apply the most well-known prophecy about Jesus (among Christian circles even then, since some dispute Jews accepting it as such): Isaiah 53, except for a reference in Acts (Acts 8:32-33)! And back to the original point, not to mention the absense of Daniel 9:25-26, which even refers to the sufferer as Xristou (in v.25, and 26 - chrisma in its accusative case). Clearly then, a prophecy fulfilled not mentioned prior to a later Evangelist, does not mean it wasn't widely referred to Christ before that time period.
- Perrin, ibid.
- Kümmel, Introduction to the New Testament, 242-243
- The weight of the reference to 1 Timothy 4:6 rests on the widely held consensus that 1 Timothy was written around 100, which would be about 20-30 years after Colossians if Colossians is inauthentic, and would, presumably, be much more developed ecclesiology-wise than both Colossians and Paul, with Colossians standing in between, and this here usage of "diakonos" supporting the supposition that Colossians was indeed written a generation or so after Paul. But if it can be shown that the sense is no different than what we find in Paul (in both 1 Timothy and Colossians), or that if it is, it's nothing that didn't exist in Paul's time, this objection is removed. Nevertheless, that's the point behind referring to 1 Timothy 4:6.
- Perrin, ibid.,, 123
- Early catholicism is roughly the post-apostolic period, starting from around 70/80. Thus a writing which features it was presumably written after 70 AD.
- Especially 1 Corinthians 4:17: "For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church."
- 1 Peter is dated around 90 by most
- Verses 2:9-10 are intricately connected to 2:11 and the rest of the argument in a way that suggests the problem was real to the author. Tentatively, it may be doubted of the way the argument comes back into view in verse 2:14, but no forger would have had verse 2:15 in the way between 2:14 and 16 simply because it doesn't serve the argument in 2:14, yet this is typically Pauline (Romans 6:4b in between 6:4a and 6:5 and the rest of 6:5's argument; also 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 in between 1 Corinthians 15:12-28).
- Grant, A Historical Introduction to the New Testament, p.195
- One might say that if the forgerer realized that there is more verisimilitude in writing "Epaphras, who is one of your own", instead of only "Epaphroditus", but as mentioned above, these are only unsupported conjectures, and are ultimately overturned by the evidence for authenticity. In any case, Epaphroditus also bears verisimilitude, since one would expect a forgerer to write Epaphras, and not Epaphroditus, but this doesn't overturn that a forgerer is more likely to write "Epaphras, one of your own" as opposed to the longer name, "Epaphroditus", but a conjecture without proof or support anyway. However, it is much more likely that Paul himself wrote it in this way, since Epaphras would have been known to the congregation, being the one who introduced them to Christianity and likewise informed Paul about their faith (1:7-8), and so if he was known to Philemon as Epaphras, he certainly would have been known as Epaphras to everyone else.
- Perrin, ibid., 123