It’s Always Paul and Somebody Else

SCRIPTURE READING IN PHILEMON 1:23-24

Philemon Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow labourers.

The Apostle Paul was a TEAM PLAYER.

I never read in Scripture where JUST Paul took trips to establish churches in the Roman Empire.  It was ALWAYS Paul and somebody else–Paul and Barnabas or Paul and Silas.  In addition, a number of people were with these headliner pairs, like John Mark, Luke, Timothy and Epaphras, and the valuable couple, Aquila, and Priscilla.

One of these helpers that traveled with Paul was a young man named DEMAS.

Notice in the Bible verse Demas is referred to as one of Paul;s “fellow laborers.”  At this point, Demas was valued enough to be mentioned as one of Paul’s fellow laborers, an honored designation.

But in Colossians 4:7-14what I found as notable and something interesting as well.  In Paul’s closing remarks and as was his custom, he mentions a list of servants by name.  Notice that Paul says some glowing things about several people in this passage:

Tychicus is a “much-loved brother and faithful ministering assistant and fellow servant”…verse 7

Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother…verse 9

Aristarchus a fellow prisoner along with Mark the relative of Barnabas…verse 10

Epaphras, a servant of Christ Jesus, a man of prayer and convictions…verse 12

Luke the beloved physician…verse 14

Great praise was given to these men.

Demas is also mentioned at the end of this passage, notice in Verse 14 and the only thing Paul says about him is “And Demas”.  Glowing remarks for all but one, Demas, and all he got was his name mentioned.

Was Demas being slighted here, demoted in Paul’s estimation somehow?  Hold that thought.

Now, let’s look at 2 Timothy 4:9-11 –

DEMAS has abandoned Paul’s team in this portion of Scripture while Paul while incarcerated in Rome. 

The phrase “deserted me”  in the Greek literally carries the idea of “abandonment in a time of need.” Today we might say, “He left me in the lurch”.

Ironically, Paul asks Timothy in verse 11 to bring with him Mark, who had abandoned Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15 but had later been restored to service.

[11] Only Luke is with me.  Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.”  (NIV)

I find it ironical when Demas had deserted him, Paul sent the former quitter, John Mark, whom Paul now says it was helpful to him in the ministry.

Ah, reconciliation at play!

This is a reminder to all of us that no one is UNSALVAGEABLE to God.

John Mark, like Demas, had been a miserable failure earlier in life, but now he had become a “helpful” servant.

GETTING BACK TO DEMAS…

What happened to him?  He started off with great promise.

ONCE he’d been a valued co-laborer; NOW he’s a tragic failure.

I’m not a big fan of reading between the lines in Scripture, BUT…

I can think of several reasons DEMAS may have left his post.

FIRST, DEMAS MAY HAVE BECOME WORN OUT –

Perhaps he had not anticipated how tiring ministry really was.  No doubt, working with Paul involved many hours of tiresome labor to:

  • Witnessing the Gospel to many people…
  • Counseling sessions to attend…
  • Study time needed to be done for sermons…
  • Teaching responsibilities…
  • Meetings to attend.
  • Choir practices
  • Drama rehearsals.

Many times, undoubtedly, he may have been burning the candle at both ends.  And I can relate!

Past times in my serving in ministry…after working all day at a secular job, then at night, attending leadership meetings, evangelism outreach classes…And that’s okay, actually, because honestly…I LIVE for this kind of usefulness.

But I can see myself being in Demas’ shoes if I’m not careful; just getting WEARY of being tempted to quit if you caught me at the wrong time.

What Demas needed to hear is the same thing we need to hear when we get WEARY IN THE lORD’S WORK.

Paul said in Galatians 6:9 – “Let us not become weary in doing good, for the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.”

Sometimes we need to get some rest…But don’t get weary in well-doing.

Sometimes we have to reprioritize to make sure the important things get done first, but don’t get WEARY in doing well!

Sometimes we may feel taken advantage of and unappreciated, but don’t be weary in well-doing–because we’re not doing our service for people anyway.

I want to share a couple of tips that I’ve learned over forty-five years in various ministries on how NOT to get or stay weary in well-doing:

  • First, when you can, SERVE in harmony with your spiritual gift.

We can’t always have that luxury to serve only where we’re GIFTED, but that’s where we should gravitate when possible.

When we minister in our giftedness, we may get tired, but we get tired because we’re doing too much of what we ENJOY and that’s a good kind of tired.

  • Second, find time for alone time with God where you can get recharged and encouraged in the Lord by His Spirit.

Just maybe, Demas needed to set aside some time with God and get STRENGTH from Him.

SECOND, DEMAS MAY HAVE BECOME UNHAPPY WITH HIS EFFECTIVENESS –

Maybe he tried to win his relatives to the Lord, and they wouldn’t listen.

Perhaps as he preached alongside Paul he became disappointed that he didn’t see the same results as Paul.

Possibly Demas found that PREACHING when most of his hearers didn’t want to hear what he had to say was more difficult than he anticipated.

And he just simply became discouraged in his doing, and he decided to throw in the towel and QUIT!

If true, then he would’ve been helped by Paul’s words to the Corinthian church, 1 Cor. 3:5-7:

Paul was saying that much of what we do when we SERVE GOD doesn’t result in immediate visible results.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it or that God isn’t blessing it.

Maybe Demas just needed to HEAR that we work for God, not for effectiveness and it won’t be until we get to HEAVEN to see the fruit of our labor.  Right now, we just need not be WEARY in well-doing.

THIRD, POSSIBLY DEMAS HAD BEEN DISAPPOINTED WITH THE FAILURES AND INCONSISTENCIES OF OTHERS –

Maybe some of the Christians he worked with were not all they were cracked up to be.  It’s hard to imagine that he could have found a more spiritual man to minister alongside than the Apostle Paul, but Paul certainly wasn’t perfect.

  • Maybe some of the other Christian leaders he worked with didn’t live up to the standards he thought Christians or ministers of the Gospel should have.
  • Maybe he started looking at others for inspiration instead of Jesus!
  • Maybe he was looking around instead of looking up!

Or maybe he struggled with a certain SIN in his life that caused him to begin to look at others with more critical eyes so that he wouldn’t feel so bad about his own sin.

OUCH!!!

We really don’t know for sure, but if that’s the case, the writer of Hebrews had the answers to Demas’ problem

HEBREWS 12:1-2 (AMP)

[1] THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth]. let us strip off and throw away every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which is so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,  [2] Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].  He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The writer says we should keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and not others as we run the race.

  • JESUS is the author and finisher of our FAITH, not those around us.
  • It was JESUS who endured the cross for us, not our co-workers in the Lord or our mentors, our fellow Christians.

I wish Demas had thoughts of that before he threw in the towel.

FOURTH, DEMAS MAY HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED WITH HIMSELF –

Perhaps he thought, once in the Lord’s service, somehow his struggles with sin, lust or fear, or covetousness, or anger from jealousy would disappear.

  • Maybe he forgot the importance of depending on the Holy Spirit.
  • Maybe, as he looked back over the last few years of serving in the ministry that he became disappointed he hadn’t come any further in the Christian life than he felt he should have.

As a young worker in God’s Vineyard, maybe he had been too idealistic–thought that people would flock to hear him teach and preach with multitudes being SAVED!

But things, well…they just didn’t turn out that way.

All anyone wanted to hear was that big-shot Paul!

Possibly, DEMAS struggled as many of us struggle and was disillusioned with his own wrong motives and lack of spiritual growth, especially when he compared himself with the great Apostle Paul, who seemed to always be “on target.”

FIFTH, IT’S ALSO POSSIBLE THAT HE HAD DEVELOPED A DIMINISHING OF SPONTANEOUS SERVICE FOR THE LORD –

  • I wonder if Demas was so involved with FIGHTING for the Word of God that he stopped FEASTING in the Word.
  • I wonder if he became so busy SERVING God, that he stopped SAVORING God.

If so, then most likely his spiritual life became forced, cold, mechanical, calculated, until he just didn’t bother taking time out to spend with the Lord anymore.

Maybe he became like Martha instead of Mary.  

MARTHA received a gentle rebuking from Jesus though she was busy serving, while MARY was commended because she took the time out to be with Jesus (Luke 10:41-42).

Maybe DEMAS wouldn’t have given up if he had been able to feed at the Lord’s table.

SIXTH, JUDGING FROM PAUL’S WORDS IN TIMOTHY 4, MOST LIKELY THE ATTRACTIONS OF THIS WORLD ALLURED DEMAS AWAY FROM GOD.

Paul said, “…because he loved this world, has deserted me and gone to Galatia…”  (2 Tim. 4:10).

That will rob you of your spiritual power and zeal like nothing else!

Jesus half-brother James (Mark 6:13) said in James 4:4

[4] “Do you not know that being the world’s friend is being God’s enemy?  So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God”  (AMP).

James uses mighty strong language here! 

A FRIEND of this world’s system is a spiritual adulterer or adulteress who, instead of loving God with ALL your heart, goes “a whoring” after the world, to use O.T. terminology.

How can one experience the JOY of walking with God if you’ve become His enemy?

No, the WORLD will not satisfy you; it will only pull you away from God and SERVICE to Him.

I’ve Given Some “Maybe’s”, the REASONS Demas Could Have Bailed Out On Paul.

But all is not lost in the case of DEMAS (3 John 1:12):

“Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone–and even by the truth itself…”  (NIV)

It is said that this passage of Scripture was written about 90-95 AD.  Many Bible scholars believe that DEMETRIUS in this passage is the same DEMAS found Philemon 23-24.  

The name “Demas” was what is called a diminutive of the name Demetrius; in other words, kind of like shortened nickname of the name like Bob for Robert or Will for William.  

If this is the same DEMAS as the one Paul referred to, it proves again, as with John Mark, it’s never too late to recover, restore, reconcile those who have FAILED, failed miserably. And reconciliation IS the theme of Paul’s letter to Philemon.

Somewhere along the line, Demas got things straightened out in his life so that John could say,  “Demetrius is well spoken of by everyone…”

If you are in danger of becoming a DEMAS, or maybe you find yourself already a “Demas”, then it’s time to grab hold of God’s PROMISE found in 1 John 1:9:

[9] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].  (Amplified Bible).

_______________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS –

The Free Dictionary by Failex.

Bible Hub – 2 Timothy 4:10; Elliott’s Commentary for English Readers.

Ray Stedman, The End of the Road.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search, Settings Advance.

BIBLE TRANSLATIONS:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); except where noted in the text.

 

 

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “It’s Always Paul and Somebody Else

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s