As we near the end of this letter, Paul mentions several different types of people, the unfaithful, the faithful, the restored, and the condemned.
Demas, unfortunately, was one of the unfaithful. He had worked with Paul previously (Colossians 4:14, Philemon 1:24), but Paul now says of him,
Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. (10)
What exactly pulled Demas away, we are not sure. Perhaps it was the lure of money and wealth. Perhaps it was falling in love with a non-Christian woman. Or perhaps it simply was that he was tired of suffering for the sake of Christ. He had seen Paul go through much suffering, and after suffering along with him for many years, decided he had had enough.
Others, however, were faithful not only to Paul, but to Christ. We see this in Crescens and Titus who apparently were sent by Paul to do the Lord’s work elsewhere, and Luke, Paul’s constant companion and perhaps personal physician.
Then there’s Mark. This is the same man that Paul once argued with Barnabas about in Acts 15. Paul had considered Mark unreliable because he had deserted them on an earlier missionary journey, but Barnabas wanted to give him a second chance. As a result, Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways.
But now, Paul says of Mark,
Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. (11)
Mark had proven Paul wrong, and learning from his past failures, now had shown himself to be a faithful servant of the Lord, and Paul acknowledged him as such.
Finally, we see Alexander. What harm exactly he caused Paul, we don’t know. If he was the same Alexander from I Timothy 1:20, perhaps his excommunication from the church had caused him to turn Paul into the Romans who were now persecuting Christians openly under Nero.
Whatever the case, Paul said of him,
The Lord will repay him for what he has done. You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message. (14-15)
Here we see two principals concerning those who oppose us and the gospel. First, place them in God’s hands. Don’t let bitterness consume you or cause you to try to take revenge.
But second, forgiveness doesn’t mean you just let someone hurt you again and again. We need to keep our guard up against such people until they repent
But the main question is, what kind of person are you?
Are you like Demas? You came to faith in Jesus, and at first things were great. But now, other things are pulling you away from Christ. Are the things of this world causing you to be unfaithful to him? Are hardships causing you to think about giving up? Don’t give in to those temptations. This world, with its pleasures and trials are only temporary. So be faithful. Shoot for the eternal, not what will last only a short time.
Are you like Mark? Have you failed in the past and feel like you can’t be used anymore for the Lord’s work. Remember that God is the God who restores. He restored Peter and the rest of the disciples when they failed Jesus before the cross. He restored Mark. And he can restore you. All you need to do is repent.
Are you like Alexander, hardened against God and the gospel? Be warned. God is patient, but as things are you stand condemned. Repent before it’s too late.
And for all of us who are in Christ Jesus, through everything we go through in life, let us as Paul said in Romans,
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)