WHICH COUNTS THE MOST—HOW YOU START, OR HOW YOU FINISH?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: 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” (2 Timothy 4:9-11).
In these verses, we see two saints—profitable and unfaithful, and unfaithful and profitable.
Second Timothy chapter 4 is Paul beginning to conclude his farewell epistle. Guilty of preaching an “illegal religion,” the aged Apostle awaits his beheading. Sitting in a cruel dungeon in Rome, he writes to Timothy one last time, urging the young man to come to the prison as quickly as possible. Why? Paul explains that “only Luke” remains with him. His other ministry companions are travelling, possibly visiting local grace assemblies on his behalf. In 2 Timothy 4:9-11, two contrasting names are set in bold relief.
First appearing in Paul and Barnabas’ apostolic ministry at the very end of Acts chapter 12, John Mark is Barnabas’ nephew (Colossians 4:10). He travels with Paul and Barnabas during their first apostolic journey (Acts chapters 13-14). By the start of their second apostolic journey, Barnabas wants to take John Mark with them but Paul refuses because John Mark had previously abandoned them around Acts 14:24. Barnabas and Paul, due to this momentous disagreement, go their separate ways at Acts 15:36-41.
Just over 10 years later, in Acts chapter 28, Demas appears in Paul’s ministry. Paul greets the Colossian believers on behalf of Demas (4:14). In Philemon 24, the companion epistle, Paul calls Demas a “fellow-labourer.” Most definitely, Demas was very useful to Paul’s ministry. Oh, but what a tragedy! A few years later, Paul writes 2 Timothy 4:10: “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world….” Demas’ precise motives are unknown.
Friends, just think! The actions of John Mark and Demas are written down forever in God’s Word! John Mark, once unfaithful, returned to Paul’s ministry at the very end. Demas, once faithful, abandoned Paul’s ministry at the very end. Brethren, just think! Those you expect to stay with the truth, they may not! Those you expect to never embrace the truth, they just may!
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