Satan thought that the church would be an easy conquest.
From the very start, Satan recognized the threat that the church posed to his empire of evil. He determined to stamp it out. For three hundred years, he hurled wave after wave of persecution at the church in an effort to destroy it by force. He failed. The blood of the martyrs proved to be “the seed of the church.” All that Satan succeeded in doing by persecution was to fill the ranks of heaven with countless martyrs. They are seated on high in glory and honor; their names are cheered across the echoing, everlasting hills.
Satan thought that the church would be an easy conquest. After all, it was made up of very ordinary people—a village tinker here, a local butcher there, and yonder a fellow who pushed a wheelbarrow through the streets hawking fruit. But, just the same, like the humble fishermen and despised tax collectors whom Jesus had chosen for His personal friends, multitudes of these people proved to be mighty spiritual warriors. Every time they fell on their knees, Satan’s kingdom shook. Nor could all of his principalities and powers, his rulers of this world’s darkness, or his wicked spirits in high places prevent them from breaking through at will to the throne room of the universe.
There was only one thing to do with this formidable church—corrupt it.
So, he took the truth of God and found agents to deny it, distort it, and debase it. He would alter a word here, snip out a bit there, and add something to that. He attacked the Word of God, the Son of God, and the Spirit of God. At Colosse, he attacked the deity of Christ first. Then came the additions—intellectualism, ritualism, legalism, mysticism, and asceticism. It made the head of poor Epaphras, pastor of the church, swim. He was soon out of his depth. Raw paganism was one thing; obsolete Judaism was another. Those were simple errors. Everything was black and white when it came to those kind of attacks. But the error that had invaded Colosse was too deep, too subtle for him.
John Phillips, Exploring Colossians & Philemon: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009).