2 Timothy 4:9-11
9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
11 Only Luke is with me….
All my life I have heard this text preached such that it casts Demas in a negative light – indeed, I have followed along just as I was led, making the same kinds of statements to the effect that Demas lost out with God because he violated the principle of 1 John 2:15 (“Love not the world”).
But a recent discussion with a young man who has been visiting our congregation for the past few months has given me pause, and has made me investigate this matter with a view toward getting a more precise exegesis of this passage. This zealous young man had the idea, from the context of the passage, that not only was Paul indicting Demas, but also Crescens and Titus!
As I began to research this passage it became obvious that at least some of us may have been a little too harsh on Demas and a little too quick to castigate him for “going back to the world”.
Please consider the following commentaries on this passage….
Having loved this present world – This does not mean, necessarily, that he was an avaricious man, or that, in itself, he loved the honors or wealth of this world; but it means that he desired to live. He was not willing to stay with Paul, and subject himself to the probabilities of martyrdom; and, in order to secure his life, he departed to a place of safety. The Greek is, ἀγαπὴσας τὸν νὺν αἰῶνα agapēsas ton nun aiōna – having loved the world that now is; that is, this world as it is, with all its cares, and troubles, and comforts; having desired to remain in this world, rather than to go to the other. There is, perhaps, a slight censure here in the language of Paul – “the censure of grief;” but there is no reason why Demas should be held up as an example of a worldly man. That he desired to live longer; that he was unwilling to remain and risk the loss of life, is indeed clear. That Paul was pained by his departure, and that he felt lonely and sad, is quite apparent; but I see no evidence that Demas was influenced by what are commonly called worldly feelings, or that he was led to this course by the desire of wealth, or fame, or pleasure.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
having loved this present world, not the sins and corruptions of the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; such a love is inconsistent with the love of the Father and the grace of God; nor an immoderate love of worldly substance, or of money, which is the root of all evil; but a love of life, or of a longer life in this present world; he was desirous of living longer in this world, and chose not to hazard his life by staying with the apostle, a prisoner at Rome; and therefore left him, and provided for his own safety and security: and is departed unto Thessalonica: which perhaps was his native country; and however he was at a sufficient distance from Rome, where he might judge himself safe; and if he was a worldly and earthly minded man, this was a fit place for him, being a place of trade and business….
Did Demas indeed fall? If so, does this same scripture implicate Crescens and Titus, too? Both of them departed from Paul, “forsaking” (or abandoning) him. If we condemn Demas then it seems that we must condemn these men, also, in all fairness.
If Demas simply left Paul because he felt threatened by the circumstances and didn’t want to die yet, it sounds like we have been rather harsh on him.
My intentions are not to criticize or ridicule anyone for holding a certain view (obviously, I have held the “mainstream” view of Demas until now); I simply want to be right.
Pastor Tim D. Cormier
January 5, 2012
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