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!"
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.