It’s interesting how various people in the Bible have become forever identified by a single event in their lives. Enoch walked with God and was taken away, perhaps meaning he never died. Jabez prayed for God’s blessing and deliverance from harm, and God granted his request. Judas betrayed Jesus to death with a kiss for thirty pieces of silver.
Demas was a coworker of Paul. Unfortunately for Demas, the echo that continues to ring from his brief mention in scripture is his desertion of Paul during his time of great need. Scripture does not include much about Demas, but we can infer some general impressions from what is included. In his letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24), Paul mentions Demas in positive words and in very good company, along with Mark (Barnabas’s relative), Luke (the doctor and Gospel writer), and Aristarchus (Paul’s coworker and fellow prisoner). Paul’s words give us every reason to believe that at that time Demas was his trusted, faithful coworker.
The only other mention of Demas occurs several years later as Paul, facing the possibility of martyrdom, asks Timothy and Mark to come to him. Paul notes that only Luke is with him, because two other coworkers have gone elsewhere, while Demas, out of love for this world, has deserted him. We never hear anything more of Demas—whether he ever returned to serve the Lord or whether he continued on his selfish path to his own destruction, we don’t know. In any event, those final, sad words have largely defined Demas through history.
Demas may indeed have returned to the Lord—or he may have continued in his sin. Either way, his life stands as an example of the constant need to guard against sin. If even faithful, trusted coworkers of Paul could eventually fall prey to selfish, sinful desires that lead them away from God, how much more can believers today?