Sound Doctrine - Titus 2:1

Demas, Luke, And Mark

Bryan Matthew Dockens

In his final imprisonment, Paul wrote to Timothy, "Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica--Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry" (2nd Timothy 4:9-11). Those here mentioned by the apostle typify members of the church.

"Demas has forsaken me..." Elsewhere, Paul regarded Demas among his "fellow laborers" (Philemon 23-24), and he was evidently at the apostle's side when he wrote to the church at Colosse (Colossians 4:14). Nevertheless, one's initial faithfulness is no indication of his ongoing obedience. In the parable of the sower, Jesus well illustrated the possibility of apostasy, speaking of those "who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13). The motive for Demas' departure is attributed to him "having loved this present world" (2nd Timothy 4:10). The apostle John commanded, "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1st John 2:15). Another wrote, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4). Demas lacked sufficient love for the Father to remain loyal to Him, and thus became His enemy. As he labored side by side with the apostle, it is unlikely that Demas foresaw his own eventual apostasy. From his example, the gravity of Paul's admonition is realized: "Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1st Corinthians 10:12).

"Get Mark and bring him with you..." John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas early in their evangelistic endeavors (Acts 12:25), but prematurely departed from them to return home (Acts 13:13). Later, when the pair planned to revisit the churches they had previously established (Acts 15:36), Barnabas was minded to bring his cousin (Acts 15:37; cf. Colossians 4:10), "but Paul insisted that they should not take with them the one who had departed from them in Pamphylia, and had not gone with them to the work" (Acts 15:38). Yet, in the text, Paul asserted of Mark that "he is useful to me for ministry" (2nd Timothy 4:11). He whom the apostle had formerly branded as a deserter came to be regarded as a trusted assistant. When Paul and Barnabas parted from one another, Mark accompanied the latter to Cyprus (Acts 15:39), and thereafter persisted in steadfast service, later being found in Paul's company, with Demas and Luke, when the apostle addressed two of his epistles (Colossians 4:10-14; Philemon 23-24), and in the entourage of the apostle Peter, as well (1st Peter 5:13). Mark's example epitomizes the lesson Christ taught when He said, "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?" (Matthew 21:28-31). To those who have once forsaken the Lord, Mark brilliantly illustrates the possibility of repentance.

"Only Luke is with me." Between the extreme examples of Demas, who was faithful but forsook, and Mark, who forsook but became faithful, Paul interjected, "Only Luke is with me" (2nd Timothy 4:11). Unlike his comrades, Luke proved to be always steadfast. He is quietly introduced in scripture, when, as the narrator of the Acts of the Apostles, he shifts from the pronouns "they" and "them" (Acts 1:1-16:8), to "we" and "us" (Acts 16:10-28:16). Chronicled within that historical account is Luke's presence with Paul preaching the gospel on two continents, suffering shipwreck, and undergoing years of incarceration. Paul was still imprisoned when he wrote to Timothy (2nd Timothy 1:8, 16; 2:9), recording Luke to be his sole companion. Luke's dedicated service exemplifies the command, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1st Corinthians 15:58).

"Could You Not Watch One Hour?"

Bryan Matthew Dockens

Frustrated that His disciples allowed themselves to be overcome by fatigue as he agonized in the garden, Jesus sternly inquired "Are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour?" (Mark 14:37). It is truly disappointing that the dramatic spiritual events unfolding before them failed to sustain the attention of the apostles. Is Jesus any more satisfied by the attention He receives now?

Movie-goers arrive early to preview upcoming movies, concert-goers crave an encore, and sports fans are thrilled by games that go into overtime. Yet worshippers presented with a sermon lasting longer than anticipated depart in a state of discontent. Evidently, they do not share the sentiment of the psalmist who wrote, "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97).

Those who insist on brevity would have been rather unhappy to worship in Troas when Paul visited. Would they continue to glance at their watches as the apostle "continued his message until midnight" (Acts 20:7)? Certainly, they would be horrified at the prospect of gathering before the Water Gate with Ezra the scribe as he read from the law "from morning until midday" (Nehemiah 8:1-3).

It is a matter of priority (Matthew 6:33) and zeal (Romans 12:11) which marks the difference between a bored worshipper and a satisfied one.

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