It’s Paul’s Acts 28 jail time and AD 60 to 62, best we can tell. From prison, Paul writes 4 epistles: Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon and Philippians. Colossians had been infected with a Gnostic heresy; a ‘special’ knowledge that only those most holy could know. It was a ‘mystery’. Paul blows that whole thing up by supremely exalting Christ! As Galatians and Romans revolved around salvation, and the Corinthian letters about proper order in the church, and the Thessalonian letters revolving around Christ’s Return and the end times; so, Colossians uses the word ‘mystery’ 4 times in relation to the Person of Jesus Christ.
See 8 of the Elements in chapter 1. Make no mistake, the issue is #1, righteousness. It’s in verses 2, 12, 22, 26 and 28 with the words holy, saints, and perfect. It’s entirely about the forgiveness of our #2, sins says verse 14 and 21. We find #5, the Gospel all over this chapter with verses 5 and 6, 23 and 25. The Gospel is His death, shed Blood, and resurrection says verses 18, 20 and 22. We only need to #7, believe it and upon Him says verses 4 and 23. The result is our#8, New Birth according to verses 13 and 14, 20 and 22, and it is the ‘mystery’ of which he mentions 4 times, twice here in verses 26 and 27. The ‘mystery’ is Christ IN you, the confident expectation of glory with eternal life in #10 the Kingdom! See verses 5, 12 and 13, for more mention of this. There is #9, New Life instruction for us with verses 9 thru 12, and 23. But, the real subject of the chapter is clearly #4, the Savior, Jesus Christ. Learn Him from verses 15 thru 20 and 22, and verses 27 and 28. See the absolute supremacy of Christ and the fullness we have in Him!
From chapter 2, easily 6 elements appear. There is good #9, New Life instruction in verses 2 thru 8, and 16 thru 18. We have everything thru simple #7, faith in #4, the Savior, Jesus Christ, says verses 5 thru 7, and 12. Know this Savior from verses 5, 8 and 9. See the 2 elements of #5, the Gospel. Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead with verses 12 thru 15. All this results in many expressions for our #8, New Birth in verses 6, and 10 thru 13. All this was from our #2, sins says verses 13 and 14; while others remain in theirs according to verses 18 thru 23. The real mystery is Christ in you, the hope of Glory!
Chapter 3 begins the #9, New Life application of the doctrinal instruction of the first 2 chapters. Since you have partaken of #8, the New Birth says verses 1 and 3, now #9, Live this away: Put to death says verse 5 thru 9 all these #2, sinful things, and put on the new self says verses 10 and 11. Yes, #9, clothe yourselves as those who are #1, holy with all that is in verses 12 thru 24. For us there is reward and #10, the Kingdom according to verses 1 thru 4 and verse 24. But for all others who continue to #2, sin, there is only the fearful prospect of #3, severe judgment says verses 6 and 25! It’s what the Book is all about!
Harold F Crowell