Who Was Demas?

“Demas has deserted me because he loves the things of this life and has gone to Thessalonica…” (2 Timothy 4:10a NLT)

Have you ever had someone close to you, someone you trusted, betray you? It’s a sickening, gut-wrenching experience. I can only imagine how Paul felt when Demas left him. We don’t know a lot about Demas, as he’s only mentioned three times in Scripture. Two of the three were in the context of his partnership with Paul in ministry.

Thinking of Demas’ desertion causes me to wonder why people who once seemed so committed turn and run when troubles arise. Demas certainly witnessed firsthand the miraculous ways God used the Apostle Paul, but he also witnessed Paul’s imprisonment for his faith. Perhaps Demas wanted to ride the coattails of Paul to “stardom” in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps he aspired to carry on Paul’s ministry or be held in the kind of esteem with which Paul was held. We can’t know for sure.

It causes me to consider my own motives as I pursue the Lord. Who or what is the REAL basis of my commitment? Who owns my allegiance? What motivates me to do what I do in ministry, whether as a pastor, leader, or volunteer? Whose attention am I craving? What rewards am I seeking and why? These and many other questions arise as I see those who come and go through the doors of the church.

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Early in my ministry I was very naïve, believing virtually everyone who came to church was seeking Jesus. I trusted leadership, believing they had God’s will and purposes foremost in their minds and hearts. How deeply saddened and disillusioned I became when I came face to face with blatant hypocrisy.

Was Demas a hypocrite? Or was he just misplacing his allegiance, that should have been to Jesus, but instead was given to Paul. How many “faithful” church members who serve and lead and give and attend aren’t “on fire” for Jesus at all but are fully devoted to their “rock star” preacher or pastor, who once he/she leaves, their “fire” goes out.

My spirit tends to believe Demas never fully committed himself to Jesus, he was more aligned with Paul. Paul was a “superstar” who was able to give Demas inroads to people and opportunities that might have enabled him to make a name for himself. But when Paul ended up in prison, it caused Demas to rethink his future.

“Is this really the future I imagine for myself?” he must have thought. Whatever motivated him, at some point he made the decision to leave Paul and forsake whatever plans he might have had to be a person of prominence in the early church.

How many “rising stars” in the church today are seeking to make a name for themselves? But at what cost? Is it worth the faith and disillusionment of those who trust them, and believe they’re genuinely loving and serving Jesus? My guess is, they don’t care. 

So many are leaving the church today, not because of Jesus, but because of disappointment in leaders and others they’ve met in the church who may not even know Jesus themselves. We want to treat the church like a business or any other type of corporate structure, leaning on our own understanding, and ignoring the guidance of God through His Spirit and His Word.

May the Lord help us to identify and seek to restore the “Demas’” in our churches before it’s eternally too late, not only for them, but for those whom they’re leading astray.

Food for thought.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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