Thursday, February 5, 2009

Demas--Ran From Death

After talking about Agabus, we can come to the conclusion that the Bible is full of examples of good Christian men and women that we can model ourselves around. And that is true. However, there are also examples in the Scriptures that teach us what not to do. One such is a man named Demas.

Demas was a faithful Christian for a long time, being mentioned on three occasions, all in letters written by the Apostle Paul. "Sending you greetings fellow worker." (Philemon 1:23-24)* Demas must have worked hard with Paul, evidently being a fellow traveler with him. This reveals that Demas must have been a faithful Christian for a long time, since his record of faithful service would allow something like that.

So wonderful was Demas, he was mentioned in another letter possibly going to the same place, couriered by the same person. We read, "Luke the beloved physician sends you his greetings, and so does Demas." (Colossians 4:14) This further reveals that Demas was right there with Paul as he wrote his letters, perhaps being a faithful confidant. Truly, Demas had the rare privilege of traveling with Paul! How he must have burst with joy and excitement as he was asked to travel along with him!

However, things don't turn out so wonderfully in the end. The letter of Colossians and Philemon were written at the same time and sent to Colossae by Tychicus and Onesimus, a runaway slave. (Colossians 4:7-9) This letter, indeed, both Colossians and Philemon, were written and sent between 60 and 61 C.E. while Paul was imprisoned in Rome the first time.

About four to five years later, violent persecution is leveled at the Christians. Paul is imprisoned and sentenced to be executed. (2 Timothy 2:9; 4:6) Then, one of his loyal "fellow workers", yes, Demas, runs away. Why? "Because he loved the present system of things, and [so went] to Thessalonica."-2 Timothy 4:10

Demas was afraid to die. It was that simple.

Now, it would be wrong to make assumptions about Demas. All we know about this poor man is that he "loved the present system of things" enough to fear death, although he had a sure hope. He ran almost six hundred miles across land and sea from death. We do not know if he integrated himself into the local congregation in Thessalonica and continued to worship Jehovah and follow Jesus Christ or anything about him after that. We are not the judges of individuals but we do know that Demas' decision, and the fear that caused him to make that decision, was wrong. It led to the last mention of him in the inspired Word to be negative.

We may be in a similar situation as Demas. Our life may be on the line. Will we be able to stand up for what is right by looking to the prize, "the real life", and be able to stand firm until our death? (1 Timothy 6:19) Only Jehovah, through His spirit, can give us that courage.

*Four other people, Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, and Luke, are also mentioned, however, since this article is about Demas the other names have been omitted from this post.