Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D is for Demas


Betrayal is one of the most gut-wrenching and demoralizing things that can happen to an individual. Especially when you have spent a great amount of time, energy, effort, and resources into helping someone develop or obtain specific goals. It is very hard to confide in, come to truly depend upon, and to trust someone only to have them abandon you. 

Even the seemingly invincible and unflappable Apostle Paul was victimized by friends and colleagues who abandoned him. One such individual that left the Apostle Paul in the lurch at the most crucial time of his life was a man named Demas or Demus.

Very little information is known about Demas. We don't know where he was from, who his parents were, or how Demas grew up. We have no information about his background or his death. However, it is not what we don't know about Demas that makes him a character for study, it is what we do know.

We first come across Demas in Paul's letter to his friend Philemon; "Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke my fellow workers." It seems Demas was in Rome and working with or for the Apostle Paul. Paul considered Demas a fellow-laborer. We also see Demas mentioned in Paul's letter to the Church located in Colossae. "Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas."

This is a crucial testimony to the feelings of the Apostle Paul toward both Luke and Demas. Paul had to depend upon these men, particularly as fellow-laborers in ministry. Paul was under house arrest, chained to a Roman soldier. Paul had left Corinth with the offering and entourage that he had collected and had dropped the offering with the remaining apostles in Jerusalem. While participating in a vow he was found in the Temple by harassing Jews. These Judaizers had Paul arrested and probably would have killed him or at least done him bodily harm. He was rescued by Roman officials and jailed until sense could be made out of the charges. Paul was taken for his safety to Caesarea and held. He was tried by Felix and Festus and eventually by visiting King Agrippa. It was during this hearing that Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen and appealed his case to the Emperor in Rome.

The next several months entailed Paul being taken to Rome via ships. He experienced a shipwreck and rescue on that trip. Eventually he and his escort made it to Rome where he was placed under house arrest awaiting a trial before Emperor Nero.

While under house arrest Epaphras came to him sharing problems that the church of Colosse was experiencing.  He came in contact with a runaway slave named Onesimus and had introduced him to the gospel and Jesus Christ. Paul wrote a letter to the Collossian church which was carried by Tychicus and he wrote a letter to Onesimus's master Philemon asking Philemon to take back Onesimus as a brother in Christ. Paul realized that since Tychicus and Onesimus had to pass through Ephesus on the way to Collosse, Paul chose to write a letter to the church located in Ephesus.

On top of all this the bible says in regards to his two year house arrest "He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance." (Acts 28:30-31, ESV) Paul was very busy. This was no "Roman Holiday!" 

Having men like Luke, Mark, Aristarchus, and Demas was crucial to Paul and the gospel. He needed these men to do the leg work that he could not do while under house arrest. It was crucial to Paul and the gospel that men like Demas would be trustworthy, committed, faithful and loyal.

Sadly, all armies have those who go AWOL. "The Christian Army" has suffered its share of drop-outs. Paul, like many Generals faced desertion by his troops. For we read those heart-wrenching words of Paul; "Do your best to come to me soon. For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica." 

Paul was now in the Mamertine Prison in Rome. He had been released from house arrest after two years. We don't have any record and very little, if any "tradition" about Paul's activities for the next approximately 4 to 6 years. He writes no letters, no mention is made of him. We would like to think he completed his dream and goal of reaching Spain but we don't know. We do know that by AD 66-68 Paul is re-arrested and condemned to die. He is awaiting his execution date in a damp, dark, and debilitating dungeon. 

Paul writes his beloved son in the faith and fellow-coworker Timothy asking Timothy to come to him before he is beheaded. He reports that the only companionship he has is Luke. His other workers are on assignment except one -  Demas has slipped a trace and bugged out for Thessalonica.

We don't know why. Maybe Demas was from Thessalonica. Paul simply says that Demas loved the present world. Demas loved this age more than he loved the world to come. Demas is known for his betrayal of the Apostle Paul. 

Let this be a warning dear brother and sister! May the Lord Jesus Christ in His grace keep us! May it never be said that Gregg, or Cathy, or Ron, or Diane, or Robert, or Mike, or Ian, or...ever loved this present world more than the one to come.



Ma ~ said...

I would hate to be mentioned in scripture under these circumstances.

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Excellent Gregg, I think you must have looked into your crystal ball,
about feeling abandoned, Last Sunday here in the UK was Mother's Day, my eldest son who lives about an hour away could not or didn't want to pick up the phone to say Happy Mother's Day, Yet my daughter came and visted me also my son from Spain phoned, I felt hurt, unloved, unwanted all rolled into one.

Have a lovely day

Giggle, Laugh, Cry said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Seams Inspired said...

I wonder if it was a woman Demas fell in love with that made him leave Paul. Thanks for the insightful 'D' post. Really enjoyed it. Happy Tuesday! :o)

Penned Pebbles said...

I pray that I would never again love this world more! Thank you for this much much needed piece! Blessings!

Penned Pebbles

Sherrie said...

Very informative info. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for stopping by my place. Have a great day!

Just Books

Brianna said...

Thanks for introducing me to Demas. I wasn't familiar with his name.

I often find myself getting caught up in this world and forgetting about what is truly important -the world to come.

TheyCallMeVarmit said...

That was a very nice and onformative post. I really enjoyed it.

Doreen McGettigan said...

I was schooled in a Christian School and have read the bible twice. Of course I refer to it all the time but read all the way through and I cannot remember this guy. My husband and I have picked up once again our practice of reading from the bible every night. I am going to look for this guy tonight.
I have to agree; he was probably led astray by a woman.

D said...

Found you via the challenge. Heyyy...

Cathy M. said...

May it never be said that Cathy ever loved this present world more than the one to come."

Amen, Brother! By His grace, may we finish the race.

Anonymous said...

Amen! Terrific post, Gregg!

Lucy Adams said...

I like your post. It got me thinking about how God uses the same people who disappoint us or worse, wrong us, to build us into better versions of ourselves. Although St. Paul did not cover it in his epistles, I think if we could talk to him and ask him about his relatiopnship with Demas he would tell us how his life was changed and his faith made stronger due to that betrayal.


mymy said...

i wonder why Demas decided to abandon Paul...it still happens today, though by men (or women) of different names. :)

Heather Henry said...

It is easy to get caught up in this world, I know I catch myself doing it. I have to remind myself of what is truly important. Thanks for the reminder.

Susan said...

Thank you for this post. Paul also separated from Barnabas and Mark because they had a very angry disagreement (If my memory serves me correctly) but was later reunited with them. Hopefully that was the case with Demas.

Lloyd said...

God's morning to you Gregg. As always your post is very informative and a joy to read. God bless, Lloyd

Nicki Elson said...

Demas is one of those names I've always skipped over and never gave much thought to. Enlightening post. Thank you.