Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What Happened to Demas?

A couple of months ago, I was finishing 2 Timothy, when the following words caught my attention:

Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.

(2 Tim 4:9-10)

I have, on prior occasions, read these verses without paying much attention to them. Yet, this time, I was led to stop and ponder about Demas, previously noted in Philemon and Colossians among Paul's trusted companions. What happened to Demas, I wonder?

How did he go from a trusted fellow worker to a deserter?
How was he in love with this present world? Was it a love of money or an unwillingness to bear up under persecution ... or perhaps something else altogether?
Did he always harbor a faithlessness or was it some special test that exposed his love of the world?

I'm sobered by Demas. We're not told much about him but it's a hint of a cautionary tale - to hold fast our faith to the end, rather than coasting our way to the finish line. It's a reminder that there are many pitfalls along the way. For some, it's the pursuit of wealth and the pleasure that pose a challenge. For others, it's placing hope and security in their (401)K and hard earned savings, rather than in the Eternal God. A successful professional might be tempted to treasure the significance and accolades they experience at work above all else.



What does it look like in your life to "love this present world" and how do you fight to mortify its influence?

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

(Phillipians 2:12-13)

17 comments:

Real Live Preacher said...

Good thoughts and questions. I've always been puzzled by Demas as well. And, given Paul's personality, I've wondered sometimes if Paul might have been a little harsh with him. Remember how he treated John Mark in Acts? It broke his friendship with Barnabus, who is one of the great unsung heroes of Acts.

In my view, these are letters so it's hard to tease apart Paul and his theology.

So I've wondered about old Demas.

But there is no question that all of us love this world. We're even commanded to love it, right? But keeping it straight and not going too far is a challenge for me.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I guess I always hope that he realized the error of his ways and returned to Paul before his death.

It is a sobering thought though that you could walk so well for so long and in such company and then just walk away.

Funny - this is about the 3rd or 4th time that same scripture has come up since I posted on it. I read it again this week in an Andrew Murray book and heard it today on a Tozer CD.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Link back to here from today's blog entry - thanks for "stirring the pot".

L.L. Barkat said...

I always find the hard part of this is... the world was made for us to love. Where that becomes a hindrance, I'm not sure it's always easy to determine.

Every Square Inch said...

RLP,

Thanks for your thoughts on the post...you might be right about Paul's words on Demas but it seems that Demas' is reproved for his love for this present age.

Unlike you, I'm no preacher ;-) but I think there's a difference between "love the world" as in "For God so loved the world..." and the way that it's used in Paul's indictment of Demas or in 1 John when it warns "do not love the world or the things in the world..."

In the former, it's about loving the people of the world...in the latter, it's the loving of the system of this world which is passing away.

What do you think?

Every Square Inch said...

Susan

Yes, perhaps Demas realized the error of his ways and returned...wouldn't that be a nice surprise to find that out in heaven!

Every Square Inch said...

LL,

As I responded to RLP, I think there may be a difference in the way we're called to love the world and the way it's used here... perhaps?

Ted M. Gossard said...

I look at Demas and the letter of Hebrews and I've often thought we Christians, in the name of eternal security or perseverance of the saints yank the teeth right out of the warning passages.

I'm more and more convinced that Christians can sin against the grace of God and keep doing so, to the point of no return. Not that they can't repent by God's grace at a later time.

I see so many Christians during my life who believe in this "once saved always saved" (and yes, I've so believed as well) who really are convinced that they can do whatever out in the world, and yet they're "saved". But Bible salvation is emphasis on present tense, I believe- not denying the past or future.

Anyhow, don't know about Demas. He may have never had it in his heart, or he may have left that all behind. And maybe he repented.

Solomon is another one who makes me wonder even more as to where he's at now with God.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted

I understand what you mean by taking the "teeth" out of warning passages. We don't think enough about the warnings.

I don't know if the phrase "once saved, always saved" is helpful or accurate but I do believe in the preservation of the saints where God will keep the ones he saves to the end.

Ted M. Gossard said...

ESI,
I believe in perseverance also because of God's work and grace to us in Christ, and that this is the norm for us as his children.

But I dont' anymore think that a true Christian might not apostasise(sp?). I tend to think this is possible. But only when one deliberately rejects God in Christ. And I think it seems quite rare.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I know there's other explanations for that, and at times those are surely true. I do believe a true Christian can end up forfeiting it all in the end. Though I'm not dogmatic on that, and it is a peripheral issue for me. But to believe that God and his grace is behind my continuing on in the faith is surely not peripheral. I just don't see everything as so cut and dried in the way human theological systems often see it. The Bible is more like a forest when it comes to that, so that things arent' so neatly and coherently, in our eyes, tied together.

NaNcY said...

i think that it is none of my business what happened to demas.

i find it very much a decision of heart as to being in the world but not of it. no one can know what is in someone's heart except God.

as for my on heart, it truly needs to be protected from the world.

Luke 8:1414
The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.



Proverbs 4:23
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Every Square Inch said...

Nancy

I echo your sentiments about the need to guard my heart against the influence of the world.

My question about Demas was just to highlight the possibility that unless we guard our hearts, we may follow closely for many years only to falter near the end.

NaNcY said...

yes, a good point. i would not want anyone to falter near the end.

however, since no one really knows what happened to demas in the end, is it fair to us him as an example? is it fair to use anyone as an example, since we do not know what is in a man's heart?

what do you think?

Every Square Inch said...

Nancy

Thanks for your thoughts. I think I understand your concern - it would typically be wrong to "judge" someone. However, scripture is presented to us as authoritative to and profitable to instruct us.

We do know that Demas was "indicted" for his desertion against Paul - without speculating much more, we know that Scripture portrays what he did as wrong. I think all I did was tie in the fact that in Philemon, he was noted as a trusted fellow worker. I am drawing attention to a specific point of application - no matter how well we seem to be doing, no matter how respected we are for our godliness, we need to continue to press on, persevere and relentless pursue...lest we too falter at some later stage.

I don't believe this is judging but consistent with what Paul wrote in 1 Cor 10, with regard to the example of the Israelites in the OT. These biblical characters and narratives serve as examples to warn us.

Penelope Guarder said...

ah, very good, thank you! :-)

Penelope Guarder said...

penelope g. is my 10 year old daughter's pen name...sorry, she was logged in instead of me.
and it is also too late at night to worry about it.
lots of love
nancy