Monthly Archives: November 2018

A Man Called Demas

The apostle Paul was resigned to the fact of his impending death and martyrdom (II Tim. 4:6-8). During this time awaiting his death, Paul pens his final epistle and addresses it to his good friend and co-worker Timothy. In the final words of this epistle, the apostle Paul identifies several people by name (II Tim. 4:9ff). This was a common practice of his. It is instructive to examine the people Paul mentions, what he has to say about them and their lives. Let us focus our attention on one man, a man called Demas (4:10).

The name Demas means something like “popular” or “governor of the people.” It is believed by some to be a shortened form of “Demetrius” or “Demarchus.” Some commentators identify the Demetrius of III John 12 with Demas. Most commentators assume that his home is Thessalonica, because this is where he goes when he leaves Paul and because he is found with Aristarchus who, the scriptures reveal, was from Thessalonica (compare Col. 4:10-14, Philem. 24 and Acts 20:4). Demas is always mentioned in connection with Mark, Luke and Aristarchus, Paul’s fellowlabourers (Philem. 1:24).

Paul mentions Demas on a couple of other occasions. He is mentioned in the epistle to the Colossians along with seven other men, namely, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Marcus, Jesus called Justus, Epaphras and Luke (Col. 4:7-14). These men were with Paul in his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:16-31). In 60 or 61 A.D., then, Demas is a faithful companion to the apostle Paul along with these other men while he is imprisoned at Rome in his own hired house.

During his two years under house arrest, the apostle Paul also wrote the epistle to the church at Ephesus and the letter to Philemon. He also wrote the epistle to the Philippians a little later during this time. Demas is also mentioned in the letter to Philemon along with four other of the men with Paul in his imprisonment. Three of the men named above are not mentioned in this epistle, suggesting that they were unknown to Philemon. This also implies that Demas was known of the brethren in Collosae, which suggests that at some point he had labored there and was familiar with them.

In those two letters he is not singled out to be either praised or condemned, as is Luke, for example, who is called the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14) or Epaphras whom Paul says labored fervent in prayers and had great zeal (Col. 4:12,13). He sent his greetings to the brethren at Collosae (Col. 4:14) and, in the epistle to Philemon, he is referred to as one of Paul’s “fellowlabourers” (Philem. 24). He always closely attached to Luke and in a more distant way to Mark and Aristarchus.

It is Paul’s final reference to him for which he is most remembered. In this reference, seven or eight years later, we are told that he had “forsaken” Paul “having loved this present world” (II Tim. 4:10). Much has been written about what this means exactly. The most obvious and natural meaning is that Demas left the apostle and went back home to Thessalonica out of a love for this world and its pleasures. One tradition says that he became a priest in a heathen temple, which we certainly hope is not the case. It is mentioned in a marginal note and has nothing to commend it to be true.

On the other hand, in the second century, Polycarp alludes to Paul’s reference to Demas’ actions when he says that Paul and the apostles “loved not this present world” but rather suffered martyrdom (Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, 9:1,2). Perhaps, now that the threat of death was so palpable, as Paul faced certain death, Demas lost his courage and fled. He loved this present world more than that to come. There is a contrast to be made between his loving this present world and Paul’s statement that a crown of life awaits those that love His appearing (II Tim. 4:8; cf v. 10).

But those who argue that Demas left the faith might be adding more than the Text allows. All that the Text says is that Demas abruptly forsook Paul, but it doesn’t say he forsook Christ, made shipwreck of the faith or taught false doctrine, etc. His departure may have been more like that of John Mark who departed from Paul and Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem and “went not with them to the work” (Acts 13:13; 15:38). Perhaps Demas was worried, weary and weak and left just as did John Mark. As Gill observes, “he might forsake the apostle, and yet not forsake Christ and his interest, or make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience: his faith might be right, though low, and his love sincere, though not fervent.”

Demas is always held up as one who departed from the faith or was lost into the world again. This is the plain reading of the Text. But maybe he temporarily lost his way and could no longer continue. If they are right who say Demetrius of III John 12 is to be identified with Demas, then, like John Mark, Demas regained his footing and again became profitable in the work of the Lord (II Tim. 4:11).

Eric L. Padgett

Good Soldiers Keep In S. T. E. P.

On occasion, the apostle Paul used the imagery of warfare to depict the Christian life. He reminded the Corinthians that though it is not a carnal war, nevertheless we do engage in warfare, spiritual warfare against spiritual powers (II Cor. 10:3,4). At the close of his life Paul would say he had fought a good fight (II Tim. 4:7). He warned us to put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:16). And when he wrote to his friend and young gospel preacher, Timothy, he warned him to war a good warfare (I Tim. 1:18) and to fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. 6:12). Furthermore, he urged him to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 2:1-4). With this imagery in mind, let us observe that good soldiers keep in S. T. E. P.

First, good soldiers of Christ are Strong. Paul admonished Timothy to be Strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (II Tim. 2:1). To be strong, we must exercise ourselves unto godliness (I Tim. 4:7,8). We do this as we study to show ourselves approved unto God (II Tim. 2:15). Also, we grow in strength when we go through trials (II Cor. 12:10), as the trying of our faith works patience (James 1:2,3). Remembering that God does not want us to have the spirit of fear but of power (II Tim. 1:7) because, as we grow in grace and knowledge, we know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (II Pet. 3:18; Phil. 4:13).

In the second place, good soldiers of Christ Teach others (II Tim. 2:2). This is the plain where battles are fought and won in the Christian’s life. It is the human mind and heart which are affected in this battle. The sword of the Spirit, the word of God, is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of he heart (Heb. 4:12). When the gospel is heard honestly, it affects the heart (Luke 8:15; Acts 2:37). Our mission is to teach all nations the gospel of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16).

In the third place, good soldiers Endure hardness (II Tim. 2:3). In all war, combat conditions are never pleasant. This is true of spiritual warfare, as well. So Paul informs us that all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Tim. 3:12). If we are not suffering persecution, then we are not living godly in Christ. Jesus said beware when all men speak well of you (Luke 6:26). Peter warned first century Christians that they would face severe, fiery trials but that they should not think of that as being strange or anomalous to the Christian condition (I Pet. 4:12).

Finally, Paul said that a good soldier Pleases Him who called him to be a soldier (II Tim. 2:4). A soldier is not a free agent. He is not only a soldier but a servant and amenable to his Master’s will. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (I Thess. 2:4). “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (II Cor. 5:9). Therefore, we cannot afford to get entangled in the affairs of this life lest the cares, the riches, and the pleasures of this life choke the life out of us (Luke 8:14).

A good soldier, then, keeps in S. T. E. P. He is Strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. He Teaches the gospel to those with whom he comes in contact. He Endures the hardships that living the Christian life will bring. And he Pleases the Lord as he strives to carry out His commands.

Onward Christian soldier; keep in S. T. E. P.

Eric L. Padgett


Is heaven your passion? Really your passion? In Philippian letter, Paul had just described how he pressed toward that heavenly prize, pressing, ever pressing to attain unto the resurrection of Christ (Phil. 3:7-14). Like the one who found the pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had to buy that one pearl (Matt. 13:45). He cast aside all the things that could be counted as gain in this life so that he might reach that heavenly goal (Phil. 3:7,8). Paul made several points in this context that need to be stressed.

First, as Christians, our life, or conversation, is in heaven. As we often sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through, My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door and I just can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” With the hope of heaven before us, how could we feel at home here? In many ways, this is the devil’s domain as he influences and beguiles so many (II Cor. 4:4). Just as Jesus prayed and desired to be back with the Father (John 17:1-16), so we, too, should have a desire to be with Him (Phil. 1:23; Heb. 12:1,2).

Our heart is in heaven because that is where our treasure is (Matt. 6:21). That is where what we value most is. While we live in this world, we know that we must stay separate from it (II Cor. 6:17,18). Those “Christians” who are indistiguishable from the world really do not long for heaven. Old testament saints looked and longed for a heavenly city and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth (Heb. 11:13-16). Our affections should be set on things above and not on things on this earth (Col. 3:1-3).

Second, we know that Jesus is coming again. Knowing this, we look for Him, we wait patiently, we anticipate the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:42-44). Peter said we look for and haste unto the coming of the day of God (II Pet. 3:12). We look for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13). We are assured of His return because we know He was raised from the dead (Acts 17:30,31). He left so that He could prepare a place for us in those heavenly mansions and is coming again to receive us unto Himself (John 14:1-4).

When the Lord returns we know also that our vile bodies will be changed. Our bodies are vile, or humble, or lowly, because they are subject to decay and deterioration that sin brought with it (Rom. 5:12). The creature was made subject to vanity but we wait, groaning and waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:20-23). Our bodies will not be exchanged as some like to read it, but they will be changed (I Cor. 15:50-53).

Our bodies will be made like His glorious body. We do not know what we shall be but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). All the suffering and vanity to which we are now subjected is not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).

The Lord has the power to do all this and subdue all things unto Himself. He will gather together in one all things in Christ (Eph. 1:9,10). The exceeding greatness of His power was demonstrated when He raised up Christ to His own right hand in heavenly places and it is that same power with which He will raise us up at the last day (Eph. 1:18-21). It is the same power which quickens us from being dead in sins and which delievers us from the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:1-3).

Eric L. Padgett

The Image of the Invisible

The apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians in order to stem the tide of a menacing heresy greatly affecting the churches in the region (cf. 2:4, etc.,). What is known of this particular heresy comes through the themes which Paul stresses in his epistle. This heresy, among other things, apparently diminished the authority and supremacy of Christ and His work of redemption and distorted the role of knowledge. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians and the Laodiceans responds to these errors.

In part, Paul’s response to these errors is to describe the magnificence of Christ. His description is nothing short of astounding. This brief description gives us only a literary glimpse into the glory of God, we see only the hinder parts as it were, yet we still tremble and shake in fear at His majesty and glory. Even more, we rejoice and are thankful to share in this glory with Him (1:12). Let us turn our minds to fathom the breadth and height of these glories.

First, Paul describes the Lord as the image (icon) of the invisible God (1:15). Not only is the Lord the image of God but He is also the “express image” (kharaktar) of His person (Heb. 1:3). Once Philip asked the Lord, “Show us the Father and it sufficeth us” (John 14: 8). Jesus replied “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me” (John 14:9). Jesus said “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” As Paul observed, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). It is only through Jesus that we can truly know the Father.

Next, Paul states that the Father has made us suitable to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (1:12). This is no small task seeing that our sins separate us from His holiness (Is. 59:2). But we have been made meet, or suitable, through His Son Jesus Christ. This inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled and fades not away and is reserved in heaven for us if we remain faithful (I Pet. 1:4). Indeed, it is that everlasting kingdom of Christ which has been prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34).

Third, that kingdom of His Son is a Kingdom of Light (Col. 1:12,13). As Christians, we are called out from under the power of darkness and into His kingdom of His marvelous light (I Pet. 2:9). This is because God is light, clothed in unapproachable light, and in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5; Psalm 104:2; I Tim. 6:16). Being the image of God He is also the brightness of the glory of God (Heb. 1:3) and His glorious gospel brings the light of truth (II Cor. 4:4).

Fourth, He is the firstborn of every creature (1:15). The point that Paul makes here is that Christ occupies a special place in the world with God. The firstborn received special privilege and was given the place of preeminence (Psalm 89:27; cf. Deut. 21:15-17). This does not mean, as some try to interpret, that Christ had a beginning or was created. This cannot be since Paul further states “for by Him were all things created” (1:16).

Thus, Jesus is the Creator of all things. John wrote that all things were created by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3). John also shows that Jesus, the Word, was with God and was God (John 1:1,2). In the beginning, God said “Let Us…” (Gen. 1:26). That “us” included the Son, as well. Paul said God created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9).

Therefore, He is before all things. The Lord is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending (Rev. 1:8). He is the first and the last (Rev. 1:11). Micah says that His goings forth have been from of old, even from everlasting (Micah 5:2). Moses said that God was from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:1,2). Jesus, Himself, said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Paul quotes Psalm 102:24-27 and applies it to Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1:10-12. Paul further states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). Not only is He before all things, but by Him all things consist. He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3).

Finally, Paul says that it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fulness dwell (1:17). That is, all the fulness of the godhead was present in Jesus bodily (Col. 2:9). Everything that is God was in Jesus. That is why He is head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.

Eric L. Padgett