Demas a Apostate in the NTPosted: May 31, 2010
Paul writes in Philemon 1:23-24: “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.” He again writes in Colossians 4:14: “Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.” Demas, according to Paul’s writings, worked alongside Paul for a time. However, we find Demas mentioned again in Paul’s later writings to Timothy, but not in the same way as before. In 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul writes, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.”
How did Demas apostatize from the Church? Paul gives the reason as he said Demas was “ in love with this present world.” Demas is the perfect example of how many today fall into apostasy and never return to what they had once tasted and seen. Demas, letting his guard down, allowed the world to fulfill his desires. Through this we see that he was never truly a co-worker with Paul for the gospel, but was merely one who had personally tasted the gospel, yet never fully eaten from it. This was an act of one who saw the gospel ministry first hand beside Paul—watching sinners come to the gospel, spiritual gifts take place, healings, and churches filling—yet fell into the ways of the world, just as easily as anyone today. The feeding of the flesh is extremely easy to fulfill, and is likewise just as hard to quench. Demas, after all that he saw and did alongside Paul, broke away, falling into apostasy in the ways of the world. One can be sure that this must have broken Paul’s heart; but even more so, Paul saw this as an important example to relay to Timothy—that apostasy can happen to anyone, no matter who you are or what you have done; even those that have worked for the gospel can still apostatize from it.
New Covenant apostasy is no different than that of the Old: one may see the work of God first hand, or walk with Jesus here on earth like Judas, see the gospel at work like Hymenaeus and Alexander, or work alongside Paul like Demas, but no man is safe from his own wicked flesh or from the temptation of leaving that which they know is better. It is only God’s children that can remain from falling away, as it is the eternal security the believer has in which they can rest assured of their salvation in the gospel.
Like that of the Old Dispensation and Covenants, there are covenant breakers that the Lord has allowed to fall away and apostatize from the gospel throughout all of history, including in the New Covenant. For the Church today, apostasy still lives like it always has, but even more in number than ever before. Today, these essential beliefs which constitute the power of Christianity, are being subjected to an unparalleled assault from within the Church itself. The Bible says that in the end times people will mock the promise of the Lord’s return; 2 Peter 3:3-4 states: “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” What is more shocking is that this is done by those that call themselves a part of the true Church. Jesus, Paul, Peter and Jude’s theology constantly teaches, both in warning and render, that apostasy will bite away time and time again at the Church, trying to destroy the true gospel. Today a church may appear godly, but is not truly of God. It believes not the true gospel of the Lord; or it pretends to believe, but will not obey. It is a church that produces no real good fruit, as it may look good on the outside and sound good on the inside, but its members produce no fruit on an individual basis; the members are not taught to proclaim the gospel. Overall, it is a fine religion that does little but serve itself. This kind of church has a form of godliness, but denies the power of God, as it merely tickles the ears of its members with good tidings and refrains from inflicting hell-fire sermons which might offend the sheep; repentance, holiness, and good works are frowned upon. The fact is that just because countless churches are doing the same things, does not mean they are following God’s Word or His commands. The apostate church creates the great falling away and will certainly disobey God’s commands, and yet appear as an angel of light.
A main focus in Paul’s letters to Titus and Timothy is that of warning—that is, a warning of apostates and the false teaching done by them. Paul very clearly understood this and saw it as a crucial warning, which was much needed in that time, and is still needed today. Paul’s prophetic charge to the church of Thessalonica is still what the Church deals with every day until the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is a warning and yet a comfort to the Church that deals with apostasy at large today in the New Covenant. 2 Thessalonians 2 reads:
“Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”