As Paul nears the end of his life, here in 2 Timothy 4, there’s a series of things that he says that are of significance:
In verses 6-9, he says, “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”
Then he somewhat finishes the epistle, talking about the character of several people that spent quality time with him, such as, Demas, Crescens, Titus, Luke, Mark, and Tychicus, as well as others.
But there are three in particular that I want to concentrate on tonight, that we can learn valuable lessons from:
a. Demas, who had forsaken Paul
b. Luke, who was with Paul
c. Mark, who was to come to Paul
Remember, he served faithful with Apostle Paul:
• In Philemon 1:24, he is mentioned as a “fellow worker
• In Colossians 4:14, he is mentioned along with Luke (the physician and writer of the Gospel of Luke and Acts
• In 2 Timothy 4:10, a letter traditionally ascribed to Paul, where it is mentioned that “…for Demas, because he loved this world, he has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”
In the end, the Apostle Paul said, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” (verse 10). Some Bible scholars when as far as to say, “The tradition is he became apostate from the faith, possibly converted back to Judaism; he fell away from the Lord.”
Like Demas – we as Christians, if we don’t stand steadfast to the faith that was once delivered unto us, can: fall way from our first love, which is God, we can become entangled with the cares of this world, as expressed in 2 Peter 2:20-22, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
LUKE – who was steadfast in his allegiance to the Apostle Paul:
• Like Demas, he was a fellow laborer that travel with Apostle Paul on his second and third missionary journeys as, “the beloved physician.”
• He’s the author of the Book of Acts – the historical book of the church.
• When Paul was to be imprisoned in Rome (Acts 27 & 28), he was with him.
• He was with Paul during his last days before Emperor Nero beheaded him.
Like Luke – we as Christians want to be known as a people of faith that hold steadfast under adversity
We are faithful to the end in our service to the Lord, and to our brethren, as expressed in Hebrews 3:12-14, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.”
Not only to our brethren, also to our leaders, as expressed in 1 Corinthians 16: 15-18, “ but I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to everyone that helpeth with us, and laboureth. I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied. For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.”
MARK – A young man who proved unreliable at first glance:
• His name was John, surnamed Mark, son of Mary [many of you know the story in Acts 12, of Apostle Peter being delivered from prison by the angel, and went to the house where the saints were gathered in prayer for his release: this was Mary – mother of Mark house]
• It was common for Jews of the period to bear both a Semitic Hebrew name such as John and a Greco-Roman name such as Mark.
• He was the nephew of Apostle Paul’s close friend Barnabas
• He started out with Apostle Paul and Barnabas on their first journeys, but fear gripped him, based on some of the areas where they were doing missionary work, and bailed out on them, back to Jerusalem
• His departure caused great strife between Apostle Paul and Barnabas, because on their next missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take Mark with them and Paul was totally against it. We read about this incident in Acts 15, 36-41, “And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.”
• He eventually redeemed himself, because in the end, he proved to be useful to the Apostle Paul, as we see in 2 Timothy 4:10-11, “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.
• He spent the balance of his ministry working with apostle Peter
• He eventually wrote the Gospel of Mark
Like Mark – Some Christians are a combination of these three characters:
• Their service to the Lord and to the brethren somewhat wavier … meaning they aren’t steadfast to the Word of the Lord, nor dependable to the saints, in terms of their servanthood.
• In the beginning their word isn’t their bond – they make promises they don’t keep.
• Their spirts are neither Cold (serious natured) nor Hot (on fire for the Lord) … they’re at best ‘Lukewarm.’ In the Book of Revelation, 3:15-16, Jesus said, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.”
• We can take away from Mark’s life, that whatever mistakes we make, they can be corrected, and whatever sin can be forgiven
• Like Mark, we can return to our first love
• And those who have been deemed ‘useless’ in ministry can become ‘useful’ in their local church
We need to do an evaluation of ourselves to determine which of these three men we’re more like:
a. The apostate Demas
b. The steadfast Luke
c. The remorseful Mark
Then determine, I will not become a Demas to the work of the Lord; and I’m striving to be more like Luke, and if I’ve decided that right now, I’m more like Mark … who started out more so on the slow side, of doing serious work for the Lord, but determine to finish strong before the Lord returns … because You seriously want to hear Him say, on that day, “Well done, My good and faithful servant!”
Your DEVOTION to a thing determines the direction that you will take:
will you love the world, or will you love the Lord and His brethren…?