FINALLY . . .
Our dear friend Luke the doctor, and Demas, send greetings. Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church at her house. After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn, read the letter from Laodicea. Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.’
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you (Col. 4:14-18).
Two more names appear in Paul’s list of greetings that are of interest to us. Luke, the doctor and author of Acts, was often Paul’s travelling companion but he seemed to come and go. There were times in his narrative of Paul’s travels that he speaks of ‘we’ as though he were with Paul. Did he travel with him as his personal physician or as a dear friend? We don’t know. Perhaps both. He was a familiar figure who brought comfort to Paul especially in his imprisonment.
The other name is that of Demas. Why is he familiar to us? Because of Paul’s chilling words to Timothy from his final imprisonment in Rome:
Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he has loved this world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica (2 Tim. 4: 9).
In the previous verses, Paul spoke of John Mark who had been a deserter but had returned and had become helpful to him (Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry (2 Timothy 4: 11). Demas was also a deserter but there is no record of his ever returning. John Mark, “the disappointment” had become John Mark “the helpful”. Demas, once helpful, was now useless because he had chosen the world.
‘Demas . . . he has loved this world’, five little words but the implications are huge. What is the problem with loving the world? God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.
Demas loved the world too, but there was something sinister in Paul’s lament because it was an expression of sorrow for his desertion to the world, not of commendation for his ministry to the world.
Apostle John was aware of the danger of loving the world in the way that Demas loved the world.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever (1 John 2:15-17).
Loving the world as Demas did, implies identifying with the evil world system and fully participating in all of its evil ways. To love the world in this way is to negate what Jesus did for us through His death.
He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves (Col. 1: 13).
According to Jesus, we are in the world but not of the world. We still live in the world but we are not part of its rebellious attitudes and activities. We are here for a different reason. As Jesus was in the world, so are we – representing the Father and calling His lost sons and daughters to come home.
If we love the world as Demas loved the world, we have lost our perspective. The problem with the world as it is now is that it is transient and so are our earthly lives. The world will not remain forever in its present state. Everything in it that is contrary to God’s perfect will is destined to be destroyed by fire. Those who are of the world, participating in its rebellion and enjoying its sin, will go with it into eternal judgment.
Thus, Paul’s grief was very real because he knew the implications of Demas’s desertion. He has stepped backwards from eternal life to eternal death and there was no going back.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace (Heb. 6: 3-6).
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.