Once some folks hear that you say, ‘a believer can never lose his salvation’, they will just rush to the story of Demas and tell you:
‘…even Demas lost his salvation…and you are misleading people that they can’t lose their salvation…be careful with leading people into error…bla bla bla…’
At times, I just wonder whether some people carry their Bible in an ‘up-side-down’ position whenever they want to read it!
Here is the verse these people run to whenever they want to dilute the gospel with the story of Demas:
‘…For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…’ (2Tim 4:10)
But what some people read in this verse is:
‘…For Demas hath forsaken CHRIST, having loved this present world, and is departed unto HELLalonica…’
How will someone read this verse and just say Demas lost his salvation?!
Before I go further on what was going on in that verse, let me introduce you to a brother called ‘John Mark’.
The early believers do gather for prayers at the house of Brother John Mark’s mother. (Acts 12:12)
Brother John Mark also happened to be the cousin of Paul’s co-apostle named Barnabas. (Col 4:10)
When Apostles ‘Paul and Barnabas’ were to embark on their first missionary journey, they took Brother John Mark along with them for the work of the ministry. (Acts 13:5)
During that missionary journey, the apostles encountered a sorcerer who was using evil spiritual powers/charms to obstruct a ‘deputy governor’ from believing the gospel Paul was preaching to him.
It was so serious that when Paul discovered what the sorcerer was doing, (probably using his charmed eyes to get the deputy distracted), he had to declared a short-timed ‘blindness’ on the sorcerer before the deputy Governor could hear them out and also believe the gospel. (Acts 13:6-12)
Brother John Mark witnessed all these warfare and tussle of power that happened between the apostles and the sorcerer.
The next verse simply explained what he did…which any logical human would do:
‘…From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, WHERE JOHN LEFT THEM TO RETURN TO JERUSALEM…’ (Acts 13:13)
If na you nko?
The way the verses flowed together gives a quick clue that John Mark most probably departed from the apostles after witnessing what happened between Paul and the Sorcerer in Paphos.
Brother John Mark must have been like: ‘…I cannot come and go and kill myself on this evangelism thing o…see how a wizard was controlling a deputy governor’s mind…what if he now come and strike me nko?…’
Brother John Mark could have also left for other various reasons which included the uncomfortable stress of travelling ‘through the whole island until they came to Paphos’ (Acts 13:6 NIV), or the sudden continues movement from his native ‘Jewish region’ to travel further and further into ‘gentile regions’ (Paphos and Pamphylia) knowing the kind of danger and persecution they were liable to! (Acts 13:13)
Now, it will be a great level of foolishness for someone to come and say JOHN MARK LOST HIS SALVATION because he deserted Paul for whatever selfish interest apart from the gospel!
That is the annoying conclusion many people who don’t understand ‘salvation’ just jump to!
Please don’t judge Brother John Mark yet!
He had a good heart. He loved the furtherance of the gospel. He had zeal to work with the apostles.
But his humanity simply overcame him and he had to ‘run back’ home.
Keep following carefully.
Some time later, after Paul and Barnabas had returned from their first journey, Paul expressed a desire to go back to the brothers in the cities they had previously visited to see how everyone was doing (Acts 15:36).
Barnabas agreed, but only on one condition: THEY MUST TAKE BROTHER JOHN MARK along with them! (Acts 15:37)
Paul refused ‘sharperly’!
‘…But Paul DISAGREED STRONGLY, since John Mark HAD DESERTED THEM in Pamphylia and HAD NOT CONTINUED WITH THEM in their work.…’ (Acts 15:38 NLT)
The author of the book of Acts is ‘Luke’. If Paul were to be the writer and was to report this statement himself, he would have most probably used the same language he used for Demas in 2Tim 4:10:
‘…For JOHN MARK hath forsaken me, having loved ‘HIMSELF OVER THE GOSPEL’, and is departed unto Jerusalem…’
It was a serious matter because Barnabas really understood the error of John Mark and wanted him to follow them for their next mission….but Paul STRONGLY DISAGREED!
In fact, Paul and Barnabas SEPARATED simply because of this John Mark’s Matter!
‘…Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated…’ (Acts 15:39)
It was that serious!
Paul took SILAS (where the popular song ‘Paul and Silas’ came from)…in place of John Mark! (Acts 15:39-40)
Mhen…it was obvious that at this point, Paul was done with Brother John Mark!
But God was not done with Brother John Mark!
I hope you have been enjoying this story so far.
Now, something surprising happened later!
Some YEARS later, Paul wrote a letter to Philemon and I was surprised to see what he wrote in verse 24 of Philemon chapter1:
‘…Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings, SO DO MARK…and Luke, MY FELLOW LABOURERS…’ (Philemon 1:24)
Did Paul just call JOHN MARK one of his FELLOW WORKERS!!!
Something has happened over the years.
Paul had noted that though he was done with John Mark, God was NEVER done with John Mark!
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul mentioned John Mark as one of the Jewish co-workers ‘…which have been a comfort unto me…’ (Col 4:11)
In fact, would you believe that towards the end of Paul’s ministry, Paul would tell timothy to do something like this:
‘…Take MARK, and bring him with thee: FOR HE IS PROFITABLE TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY…’ (2Tim 4:11)
John Mark never lost his SALVATION with God!
He only lost his COMPANION with Paul!
Who would believe that Brother John Mark will receive that kind of commendation from Paul of all people!
‘…FOR HE IS PROFITABLE TO ME FOR THE MINISTRY…’ (2Tim 4:11)
Now let us return to the actual story that this post is about…Brother DEMAS.
Demas had also been following Paul in the work of the ministry! (Philemon 1:24)
In fact, in his letter to the Colossians, Paul mentioned only 3 GENTILE co-labourers who were with him and sending their greetings too:
‘…Epaphras,… Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you…’ (Col 4:14)
So Demas was there for Paul at this point when he was in captivity for the Gospel sake.
But as time went on, the persecution got tougher!
This time around, God had even showed Paul that this coming persecution will take his life!
It was in the context of that great revelation that Paul mentioned what Demas did!
‘…For I am now ready to be offered, and THE TIME OF MY DEPARTURE IS AT HAND. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: FOR DEMAS HATH FORSAKEN ME, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…’ (2Tim 4:6-10)
Can you remember that John Mark was also guilty of this same thing!
‘…John Mark HAD DESERTED THEM in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work…’ (Acts 15:38 NLT)
The Message Bible puts it in a more interesting way:
‘…AS SOON AS THE GOING GOT TOUGH, (John Mark) had jumped ship on them in Pamphylia..’ (Acts 15:38 MSG)
From the flow of the context in which Paul mentioned Demas, it is highly evident that Demas left Paul when he noticed the coming heat of the persecution which he couldn’t bear!
Paul said Demas ‘…is departed unto Thessalonica…’ (2Tim 4:10)
Some commentaries have it that Thessalonica was probably the native home land of Demas.
If so, this guy simply went home the very way John Mark went home to Jerusalem too when the GOING GOT TOUGHER!
Does that mean Demas has lost his salvation???
This story has NOTHING to do with the SALVATION OF DEMAS!
Paul was simply talking about a man who couldn’t stand strong with him in Persecution!
In fact, you will be surprised who Paul mentioned in the next verse to replace Demas!
‘…For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. TAKE MARK, AND BRING HIM WITH THEE: for he is profitable to me for the ministry…’ (2Tim 4:10-11)
It was a ‘loser’ who had now composed his boldness that was replacing another ‘loser’!
It is a high level of stupidity to place the salvation of Demas on line here simply because he couldn’t bear the coming persecution!
As in, according to the writings of ‘Eusebius’, an early church historian, Paul was ‘BEHEADED’ in this persecution!
Most people who mention Demas anyhow would have done worse than what Demas did!
They would have left earlier!!!
And please the fact that Paul said Demas ‘loved this present world’ does not necessarily mean he started going to all the prostitutes around!
That is a very carnal way of thinking.
I love how Albert Barnes Commentary explains that verse:
‘…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…’
This has NOTHING to do with either the SALVATION of John Mark or that of Demas!
If Demas had been saved initially, he has been saved ETERNALLY!
Just like John mark, Demas never lost his SALVATION with God!
He only lost his COMPANION with Paul!
The highest that will happen to him is that he would lose eternal rewards!
That was what Paul was referring to!
‘…Henceforth there is laid up for me A CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also THAT LOVE HIS APPEARING. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: for Demas hath forsaken me, having LOVED THIS PRESENT WORLD…’
In this context, ‘loving his appearing’ is put in contrast to ‘loving this present world’!
‘Loving his appearing’ here means being ready to be a MARTYR for the gospel sake!
While ‘loving this present world’ here means not willing to be subjected to the probabilities of martyrdom!
The reward for martyrdom is a CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS!
Salvation is NOT a reward…but there are REWARDS that follows salvation! (Heb. 6:9-10)
And the same way Brother John Mark received boldness to willingly stand great persecution, don’t be fast to write Brother Demas off too!
The Bible didn’t ‘directly’ tell us any other thing about him especially after the death of Paul, but he could have bounced back in his bold stand for the gospel!
In fact, according to ‘Matthew Poole’s commentary’ and ‘Gill’s Expository commentary’ on 2Timothy 4:10, they revealed that there is a varied belief that Demas is the short name for ‘Demetrius’…and was probably the one mentioned in 3John 1:12 with this commendation:
‘…Demetrius hath GOOD REPORT OF ALL MEN, and of THE TRUTH ITSELF: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true…’ (3John 1:12)
I hope with this light, folks who always use the story of Demas to explain a believer losing his salvation will learn to keep quiet and stop equating the ‘salvation of God’ with the ‘companion of Paul’.